A Day in Nakameguro: Of Cherry Blossoms, Hip Cafes and Small Dogs
The name of this quiet Tokyo district usually evokes two things in people's minds: popular cherry blossom viewing spot, and expensive residential area. Therefore, I wasn't expecting much the first time I visited Nakameguro.
To my astonishment, I found a delightful little town brimming with art, shops, cafes and beautiful scenery.
From the recently renovated, bustling area under the train tracks to the quiet hills surrounding the riverbank, Nakameguro immediately gained a spot in my top list of relaxing places in Tokyo.
After being revived in the 90s the area attracted the attention of young artists and designers of nearby Daikanyama. They brought their businesses here giving life to that chic, bohemian, artsy feel that characterizes the district. People living here are stylish, and most of them seem to own a small dog.
Not Only Sakura
Nakameguro is likely to pop up in most lists of "unmissable sakura spots in Tokyo", but it tends to be ignored for the rest. Sakura or not, Nakameguro is a very pretty district. Keep reading and you'll find plenty of reasons to visit the area in any season!
Style Under The Tracks: Nakameguro Koukashita
Opened in November 2016, this collection of businesses stretches under the railway tracks. Here you'll find stylish cafes, art galleries, classy shops and a number of refined eateries.
Where Gourmets Will Find Their Happiness
This cafe supplies the Nakameguro residents with superb handmade onigiri. They come with many different fillings for only 167 yen a piece.
Have you only ever had onigiri from the convenience store? Don't get me wrong, I love them, but wait until you try one of these.
Take out is available, but if you eat inside they will make your onigiri at the moment. They're still warm when they get to your table.
If you come earlier than I did you can grab a breakfast set for just 540 yen. It includes two onigiri, pickles, miso soup and a drink.
InformationOnigily Cafe | オニギリーカフェ
Address: 3-1-4 Nakameguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Breakfast time: 8:00am-11:00am
Lunch time: 11:30am-3:30pm
Happy Pudding Mahakala
This tiny window store uses eggs from Hyogo prefecture to make a delicious fresh pudding every morning.
Their regular pudding comes in two flavors: custard and milk coffee. They also have seasonal and monthly special flavors like mango or honey lemon.
Want proof that the pudding is made here? Just peek through the window beside the counter and you'll be able to see the staff making it.
Trying the first spoonful I found it very light and smooth. Then I got to the caramel, and had to admit that yes, this pudding does make you happy.
InformationHappy Pudding Mahakala | うれしいプリン屋さんマハカラ
Closed on Tuesday
Address: 1-17-5 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Website (Japanese-only): http://happypudding.com/
Baird Taproom Nakameguro
This is the first Tokyo pub opened by Japanese Baird Brewing Company. They have 26 taps and 4 hand pumps, most of which serve year-round and seasonal Baird Beer. Food wise, they specialize in New Haven style pizza.
The year-round beer is 600 yen for a 250ml glass and 1000 yen for a 500ml glass. You can also get a sampler set of three beers for 1000 yen.
InformationBaird Taproom Nakameguro | ベアード・タップルーム 中目黒
Address: 2-1-3 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Hours: Weekdays 4:00pm-0:00, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 12:00-0:00
There's Always Time For Coffee
Artless Craft Tea & Coffee
An artsy, classy, hipster place like Nakameguro obviously has its fair share of coffee hubs. Artless is now part of the Nakameguro Koukashita complex and it's run by artist Shun Kawakami of Artless Inc. Offering fancy brews of organic tea and single origin coffee, this cafe might sound a bit pretentious. However, the atmosphere is very homely and it feels like you're just hanging out at Shun's place.
InformationArtless Craft Tea & Coffee
Address: 2-45-12, Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Sidewalk Stand features a mouthwatering sandwich selection, great coffee drinks and an ever-changing craft beer menu. Enjoy all of these right by the Meguro river.
Espresso (380 yen)
Address: 1-23-14 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Shopping Nakameguro Style
This used books store focuses on illustration, art and photography books. Browsing it you'll come across many interesting finds such as Japanese magazines from the 70s and books made of fabric.
The store also sells other items like this Tokyo 1964 Olympics poster.
Upstairs is a small gallery space. At the time of my visit they were hosting an exhibition by Aona Hayashi, the artist who also painted Dessin's front window.
InformationDessin | デッサン
Address: 2-11-1 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Closed on Tuesday
The keyword for this lifestyle shop is 'fermentation'. 85 offers a wide range of fermented foods including miso, soy sauce, bread and amazake.
They also stock everyday items like detergent, cosmetics and utensils. Their goal is to supply people with products that are good for the body and for the environment.
A very interesting thing about 85 is the "My Nuka Doko Service". The shop will store nuka, rice bran used for pickling, for clients for a monthly fee of 1944 yen.
Information85 | ハチゴウ
Address: 2-45-12 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Closed on Wednesday
Website (Japanese-only) : http://85life.jp/
If you like Japanese folk crafts then this is the shop for you. SML stores a wide variety of ceramics, tableware, fans, towels and other Japanese items.
The shop name stands for Standard Manufacturer Laboratory.
Address: 1-15-1 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Website (Japanese-only) : http://www.sm-l.jp/
If you venture a little away from the station among the quiet residential area you will find Waltz. This store stocks an impressive quantity of cassette tapes, vinyl records, old books and magazines, VHS, and cassette players.
I had no idea that cassette tapes were still a thing. Waltz has a very cool Instagram where they share pictures of their cassette tapes (waltz_tokyo_japan).
I had a chat with the friendly owner, who told me that they sell mostly foreign music. A few of the newer Japanese bands just started releasing their albums on cassette tapes, which of course you can find here. Apparently recording on cassette tape is less expensive than recording on vinyl.
Address: 4-15-5 Nakameguro, Meguro, Tokyo
Closed on Monday
Relax, Explore and enjoy art
Just walking the streets of Nakameguro is a great relaxing experience. The area around the station is dotted with odd sculptures and some of the streets have music playing.
Take a stroll along the river under the shade of the trees. You'll find many pretty shops, bars, cafes and restaurants and a lot of trendy looking people.
Nakameguro has so many places where you can sit outside. Even many shops have tables and benches for clients to relax.
Exploring the residential area you will find many different sceneries. On the northern side of the river towards Daikanyama is the hilly and high class residential area. The southern side is where you'll find old Japanese style houses and hidden temples like this one.
Sugekari Park and Saigoyama Park are two green areas in the hilly side of Nakameguro. In Sugekari Park has a Japanese style house with a restored Japanese Garden that you can visit for free. Saigoyama park is perfect for a little break in the nature.
In my wanderings I found this store called The Fhont Shop. Outside it is a small bookshelf where you can drop off a book for others to read and pick up one for yourself, what a cool idea!
If you keep following the river West you will eventually end up at Meguro Sky Garden, a massive round structure with a park on its roof.
Enjoy the city view from among the trees!
Nakameguro is also a great place for art lovers. At Sato Sakura Museum you can admire a collection of contemporary Nihonga (Japanese style paintings). There is also a Museum of Contemporary sculpture in the area. But the best thing are all the little galleries and art displays hidden inside shops and cafes that just wait to be discovered, and almost all of them are free to enter!
How to Get There
Nakameguro station is served by the Tokyu Toyoko Line and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. It's just one train stop away from the nearby district of Ebisu.
What do you think of Nakameguro? Will you find time for this lesser known district on your trip to Tokyo?
About the author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).
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THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM 06 27,2017 Author：DiGJAPAN! Editorial Team