Central Tokyo is an amazing world of its own, but what about its surrounding areas? If you hop on the JR Chuo Line, you can be in West Tokyo in a matter of minutes. Here, you can experience another side to Tokyo — exciting yet laidback.
In our three-part series, we explore two of the most popular neighbourhoods, Nakano and Koenji, which used to be a favourite for people from the Edo period too. In fact, Shōgun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and his father Tokugawa Iemitsu were known to love spending time in Koenji. Follow us as we tour the two areas from day to night!
Nakano Broadway: Discover the new Akihabara
The first thing you will see when leaving the north exit of Nakano Station is Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai (商店街, shopping street), and at the end of the main shopping area, you will find Nakano Broadway Shopping Mall.
This is one of the most beloved Japanese pop culture paradise, both for local and foreign fans. Don’t be fooled by the shops on the first floor, which sells everyday items such as clothes, food and cosmetics.
The real geek fun starts on the second floor! Nakano Broadway features more than ten Mandarake (a pre-owned manga dealer) outlets, each dedicated to something different.
You’ll find a special Gundam store amongst the many figurine shops, a life-size alien doll greeting you from one of the shop windows and even One Piece themed shoes for sale in Converse! What’s more, Nakano Broadway provides free Wi-Fi, so you can spend all day here without worrying about using your own mobile data.
Tetsugakudo-koen: The park of philosophy
Unlike the usual ones you find in Japan, this park was constructed by a philosopher who wanted to engage the people’s minds so as to deepen their understanding of the universe.
You enter through the “Gate of Common Sense” and exit via the “Gate of the Irrational”, symbolizing a return to the arbitrariness of daily life. Between these two gates lie several other similarly named points. For example, a fork in the path is named the “Junction of Doubt”, so bring along a brochure from the park’s office to help you navigate.
The life of the park’s creator, Enryo Inoue, is an intriguing story; A Doctor of Philosophy and founder of Toyo University, he was also a researcher of yōkai (妖怪, supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore) and mysteries. Dedicating most of his life to understanding the supernatural, he spent most of his earnings constructing the park.
To get there, simply hop on bus 41 or 11 from Nakano Station, which will arrive at the park in 10 minutes.
Address: 1-34-28 Matsugaoka, Nakano-ku
Opening hours: Vary according to seasons, check with the management office before visiting
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Jul/Aug 2018 Vol. 45)