Looking to step off the well-trodden path of Tokyo's skyscrapers and neon lights? Then allow me to whisk you away on a journey through Nakameguro – the city's hippest, most charming quarter, that's bursting with personality and charm.
Nestled quietly alongside the Meguro River, Nakameguro might seem worlds away from the hustle and bustle that Tokyo is known for. It's a tranquil nook, an urban haven where creativity flows as freely as the river it borders. It's the stylish boutiques and the artisanal coffee shops that contribute to Nakameguro's undeniable allure that's both effortlessly cool and warmly inviting.
Nakameguro is the part of Tokyo renowned for its creative flair. Here, you'll find niche bookshops like Tsutaya Books, a multi-story sanctuary for bibliophiles; or Cow Books, a bookstore and coffee. For the fashion-forward explorers, Nakameguro is your port of call, with curated pieces echoing Tokyo's contemporary style. And of course, you wouldn't want to miss the special Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo for special coffee, cakes and cocktails.
Nakameguro isn't just about laid-back sophistication, it's also a neighbourhood for foodies. Whether you're tucking into gyoza at an Ohka the Bestdays, enjoying desserts at Happy Pudding or enjoying a fancier Teppanyaki dinner at Plaque Cuisine de GAMIN, Nakameguro is packed full of unforgettable flavours to discover.
And then there's the Meguro River. In the spring, the river banks are awash with blushing cherry blossoms, making it one of the city's most picturesque spots for hanami (flower viewing). But really, any season in Nakameguro brings with it a special charm.
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How to get to Nakameguro
To get to Nakameguro from various locations in Tokyo, you can use different modes of transportation depending on your preference and convenience. My recommendation is to get a Tokyo 72h metro ticket for unlimited travel around the city, or to invest in a Suica or Pasmo card for ease and convenience.
From Haneda Airport
Take the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station. Transfer to the Yamanote Line (Green Line) and take a train heading towards Shibuya. Get off at Shibuya Station and transfer to the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Take a train heading towards Yokohama and get off at Nakameguro Station.
From Narita Airport
By Train: Take the Narita Express (N'EX) to Tokyo Station. From Tokyo Station, transfer to the Yamanote Line (Green Line) and take a train heading towards Shibuya. Get off at Shibuya Station and transfer to the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Take a train heading towards Yokohama and get off at Nakameguro Station.
By Airport Limousine Bus: You can also take the Airport Limousine Bus from Narita Airport to Shibuya Station. From Shibuya, follow the same route as mentioned above to reach Nakameguro.
From Tokyo Station
From Tokyo Station, transfer to the Yamanote Line (Green Line) and take a train heading towards Shibuya. Get off at Shibuya Station and transfer to the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Take a train heading towards Yokohama and get off at Nakameguro Station.
By Train: From Shibuya Station, take the Tokyu Toyoko Line towards Yokohama and get off at Nakameguro Station. The journey is relatively short and should take only a few minutes.
On Foot: Nakameguro is within walking distance from Shibuya, and it takes around 20-30 minutes to reach on foot.
Take the JR Yamanote Line from Shinjuku Station and head towards Shibuya. Get off at Shibuya Station and transfer to the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Take a train heading towards Yokohama and get off at Nakameguro Station.
Things to do in Nakameguro
If you're looking for a peaceful part of Tokyo with lots of style, Nakameguro is the place for you. It's a neighbourhood full of cool shops, interesting bookshops, and relaxing cafés. It's a great place to visit if you like art, fashion, or trying new foods. The area has a unique, creative feel that sets it apart from busier parts of Tokyo. Nakameguro is also home to the Meguro River, which is beautiful to see, especially when the cherry blossoms bloom. Here are all the activities you can enjoy in Nakameguro. I recommend setting aside at least a day on your Tokyo itinerary to explore this district.
Stroll along the Meguro River
When you visit Nakameguro, you can't miss a walk along the Meguro River, especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Picture this: You're strolling by a river, and on both sides, hundreds of cherry trees are covered in pink blossoms. In the evening, lights shine on these trees, making them look magical. This is what you get to see when you walk by the Meguro River in Nakameguro during cherry blossom season.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants by the river. Some have outdoor seats or balconies where you can enjoy a meal or a drink while you take in the view of the cherry blossoms. These places can get busy when the blossoms are at their best, so you might want to book a table.
When the sun goes down, the trees along the Meguro River light up. The soft glow of the lights makes the blossoms look even more beautiful. Take a nighttime walk by the river – it's definitely worth it.
Needless to say that the cherry blossoms in Nakameguro are a photographer's dream. You can try out different shots, snap some selfies under the cherry trees, or take pictures of the blossoms reflected in the river.
Visit Nakameguro Koukashita
Picture from Nakameguro Koukashita Shopping Centre Official Site
When you're in Nakameguro, Nakameguro Koukashita is a must-see spot. Opened back in November 2016, Nakameguro Koukashita is a commercial area tucked away beneath the railway tracks. It stretches a good 700 meters, starting from the Meguro River and running all the way up to Yamate-dori, heading towards Yutenji.
The really cool thing about Nakameguro Koukashita is that it's home to 28 businesses, each with its own style and flavour. No matter what you're in the mood for, you're likely to find it here.
Looking for a bite to eat? Check out Pavilion. This place is known for its wine selection and food grilled in a kiln. It's a warm, friendly spot, great for dinner with someone special or a fun evening with friends.
Are books more your thing? Head to Tsutaya Books. Here you can find all kinds of books, CDs, and DVDs. It's a great spot to find new favourites, or you can enjoy a quiet moment in the café with a coffee and a good read.
Fancy baked items? The City Bakery is your go-to spot. This New York-based bakery recently opened a location here. Grab a freshly baked pastry or bread and take a moment to relax in the comfortable seating area. For a taste of traditional Japanese food, stop by Ramen Hayashida, with a delicious clear broth made with a slow cooked whole duck and Oyama chicken.
See Yutenji Temple
Founded in 1718, Yutenji Temple is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Pure Land Sect, and it holds an important place in the local community. The temple grounds are peaceful, inviting you to soak in the spiritual atmosphere.
Yūtenji was established as a shrine dedicated to Yūten, the 36th Buddhist monk of Zōjōji who passed away. Yumi, one of Yūten's disciples, constructed Yūtenji as a memorial for his master and honored him as the temple's founder.
The main temple building stands as a remarkable example of Japanese temple architecture, with its intricate woodwork and refined details. Inside, you'll find Buddhist altars and statues, each with their own story and significance. Be sure to show respect when inside the temple: speak softly, don't touch anything unless permitted, and remember that photography may be restricted.
Near the entrance of the temple, there's an incense station. Buddhists hold incense in high regard, considering it as a "divine odour" that symbolizes the presence of Buddhist deities. The fragrant aroma of incense serves as a sensory tool to purify the surroundings and engage in acts of reverence and offering with mindfulness and attentiveness.
Picnic in Nakameguro Park
For a relaxing walk or a lovely picnic, Nakameguro Park is your go-to. Spread out on the grass, set out your lunch, and just take it easy. It's a popular park with families too, as the park is home to a playing field, a small pond and children playground.
What makes Nakameguro Park really special, though, is the hanami – flower viewing – during cherry blossom season. During hanami season, the park becomes a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. People come with friends and family to enjoy picnics under the flowering trees. It's a very festive atmosphere, with everyone coming together to enjoy the transient beauty of the cherry blossoms.
Remember, hanami season usually falls in late March or early April, so if you're planning a trip around then, make sure to bring your picnic basket to Nakameguro Park. But even outside of cherry blossom season, the park is a lovely place to kick back, relax, and enjoy a picnic in the heart of the city.
Shop for Unique Items
Shopping is one of the best things to do in Tokyo, but Nakameguro is a little more special. It's more hipster and artsy with unusual indie shops. They sure know their target audience, and I'm here for it. Expect to find crafts, vintage shops and lifestyle clothing boutiques. Here are my favourite shops in Nakameguro to help you have a shopping spree.
- 85 (Hachigo) - Address - At 85, or Hachigo as it's locally known, you'll find an array of fermented foods like miso, soy sauce, bread, and amazake. But it's not just about food, they also offer everyday essentials such as detergents, cosmetics, and utensils. The aim of the store is to provide products that are both healthy for your body and kind to the environment.
- 1LDK Apartments - Address - A stylish lifestyle shop that captures the essence of Japanese minimalism and functionality. From clothing to homeware, 1LDK Apartments provides a selection of carefully curated items, ensuring that quality is always paramount.
- Have a good time - Address - This is not just a store, it's a philosophy. Have a good time is a unique, quirky shop that sells a variety of clothing, accessories, and novelty items, each piece embodying the store's playful and relaxed vibe.
- J'antiques - Address - If you love hunting for one-of-a-kind pieces, J'antiques is the place to be. This antique shop offers a treasure trove of vintage clothing, furniture, and homeware. Every item tells a story, making your shopping experience an interesting journey through time.
- Dessin - Address - An art lover's dream, Dessin is a used bookstore focusing on illustration, art, and photography books. Lose yourself among the shelves filled with 70s Japanese magazines and fabric books, and let your artistic spirit be inspired.
- SML - Address - If you're intrigued by Japanese folk crafts, SML should be on your list. This shop offers a wide variety of ceramics, tableware, fans, towels, and other traditional Japanese items. It's the perfect place to find a unique souvenir or gift.
- Waltz - Address - Tucked away in a quiet residential area, Waltz is a hidden gem for music and vintage lovers. The store stocks an impressive collection of cassette tapes, vinyl records, old books and magazines, as well as VHS and cassette players. It's a little piece of nostalgia worth exploring.
Visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo is no ordinary Starbucks—it's an immersive coffee experience that you should not miss in Nakameguro. This particular Starbucks Reserve Roastery is one of the largest in the world, second only to the Starbucks Reserve in Chicago.
Upon entering, you're immediately met with the enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The four-story building features a fully functioning coffee roastery, where you can watch the entire coffee-making process unfold right before your eyes.
Each floor has its own theme and offerings. The first floor houses the main coffee bar, where you can sample exclusive drinks not available at ordinary Starbucks branches, including coffee beverages brewed using various methods, like pour-over, Chemex, siphon, and more. There's also a retail space selling exclusive merchandise and coffee beans.
You will discover a thoughtfully curated assortment of exceptional products, featuring exclusive partnerships with esteemed Japanese designers and artists. The Offerings include a collaboration with a century-old Japanese sweets maker, a tableware series envisioned by Kengo Kuma, and beautifully painted Daruma lucky charms hailing from Gunma Prefecture.
Designed by the renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the building's design is both contemporary and warm, featuring elements that pay homage to traditional Japanese craftsmanship and culture. The multi-storied terraces, inspired by the step-like structures of a traditional Japanese "tsuzura" box, offer various spots where you can sit, sip their drink, and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Check out Meguro Sky Garden
The Meguro Sky Garden is an innovative and award-winning urban oasis in Nakameguro. It received the Good Design Award and the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Award in the City Park Contest in 2013. It also garnered recognition at the 13th Roof, Wall and Special Greening Contest in 2014. The garden plays a vital role in improving the urban environment by mitigating the heat island effect, conserving energy, enhancing biodiversity, and improving landscape aesthetics.
The garden boasts a variety of spaces, each offering a unique experience for visitors.
- East Exit Square: This is a symbolic entrance to the garden, which offers a view of Mount Fuji through Japanese red pine from the observation deck.
- Four Seasons Garden: This terraced field showcases a variety of flowers and changes with each season, allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of seasonal transitions.
- Playground: Designed with the landscape of Nonohara in mind, this space features artificial hills and round-shaped trees of takyousho.
- Relaxing Plaza: A diverse landscape ranging from traditional Japanese garden plantings, a calm lawn square, a winding garden path with mixed plantings, and a custom-planted Japanese black pine in a large Shigaraki pottery pot.
- Moist Forest: This area features a bright and open flower plaza as well as a tunnel of miscellaneous trees for shade enjoyment.
- Community Space: This space is home to flowering trees, fruit trees, vegetables, vines, and citrus fruits that are regularly seen in daily life.
- West Exit Square: This area offers a gathering space under the shade of maple trees, complemented by fragrant shrubs.
- Garden of Hospitality: Reflecting Meguro's history of thriving bamboo shoots, this area features a beautiful bamboo grove.
- Approach Space: This area has planting zones with Shigaraki ware curbs, alongside shade-resistant ground cover plants.
- Inner Garden: This dry landscape area is characterized by landscape stones and ceramic panels. It focuses on shade-tolerant ground cover plants with beautiful variegated foliage.
- Opus Yume Hiroba: This space is encircled by a huge wall. The aim is to enhance the structure's scenery visible from the plaza with beautiful trees that seem to reach the sky, with katsura as the main tree.
🎟️ Admission: Entrance to the Meguro Sky Garden is free.
🕓 Opening Times: From 7am to 7pm (5pm in winter).
🗺️ Address: 1 Chome-9-2 Ohashi, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0044, Japan
Experience the Nightlife in Nakameguro
Get ready to see Nakameguro light up at night. and I'm not just talking about the usual neon lights, but about its more understated bars, that are a lot cooler than what you'd find in other districts. The emphasis here is on good quality mixology and delicious cocktails.
As daylight fades, the streets buzz with a friendly energy that's hard to resist. You'll find lots of great places to eat and drink. Here are some of my favourites I recommend.
- Cabin - Address - A contemporary bar with a rustic decor that specialises in whiskeys from all around the world. You will find other drinks too, including handcrafted cocktails and delicious range of beers. Signature cocktails range between 1500-1800 yen. Expect a fantastic beverage in a dimly lit bar.
- Bar SPIRIT - Address - A small and cosy bar with just a few seats. The menu covers a range of cocktails and liqueurs, although right away you'll see the owner's love for whiskeys. Feel free to ask for a specific recommendation tailored just for you.
- Planetarium Bar - Address - I have another rather cool and unique bar for you in Nakameguro and this one is dedicated to the night sky. You can tell from the ambiance that the owner really loves astronomy. Expect friendly staff, good service and a...night sky ambiance. I'm talking about visual elements, lighting conditions, and the overall feeling that will make your soul calm down. Add a drink to the mix and you've got just the bar for a unique night out.
- Blues Alley Japan - Address - Drinks and Jazz you say, you've got it. Head to Blues Alley Japan and reminisce of the days when Miles Davis himself played in this bar. This particular bar has a restaurant menu too, so if you want to combine food, drinks and jazz, then add it to the list.
- Baird Beer Nakameguro Taproom - Address - Calling all beer lovers, this is the place for you. Great friendly service with a range of craft beers. If you're after pizza and beer, then I highly recommend Baird Beer Nakameguro Taproom for an after hour endeavour. Meguro Museum of Art.
Daikanyama is a stylish neighbourhood reminiscent of Brooklyn just 20 minute walk from Nakameguro. You'll find a range of cool pubs, modern coffee roasters and great brunch places. Think of it as a more hipster version of Aoyama.
Daikanyama is renowned for its fashion, attracting Tokyo's chic residents who come to peruse the boutiques and soak up the atmosphere. Away from the main streets, a labyrinth of narrow lanes, much like a rabbit warren, are home to exclusive, small boutiques with curated collections of designer wares.
Adding to the cool appeal of Daikanyama are its hip cafés, perfect for lazy brunches. The Hillside Terrace is a popular spot, boasting a well-stocked deli and a lovely terrace to relax on. Don't miss the gourmet goodies at the Hillside Pantry or the 17dixsept shopping mall.
Culture enthusiasts won't be disappointed, either. Daikanyama T-Site (DAIKANYAMA TSUTAYA BOOKS), also known as "A Library in the Woods," offers a book lover's paradise. It's one of the best places to relax with a coffee and a book. They have English books too, so don't worry, you'll find something to read while you're there.
For more traditional sights, the century-old Kyu Asakura House offers a glimpse into Japan's past. This former residence of a wealthy landowner is now open to the public. The house's beautiful gardens are worth a visit, too. The entrance fee is only 100 yen per adult.
Just when you thought Daikanyama couldn't get any cooler, you stumble upon the Spring Valley Brewery Tokyo. Hidden in a wooden cottage-style venue called Log Road Daikanyama, you can celebrate your discoveries with a craft beer.
Where to eat in Nakameguro
Nakameguro is an absolute haven for foodies, offering an impressive range restaurants with both traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. Expect modern izakayas with quick bites and refreshing craft beers, ramen joints like Afuri, and innovative fusion restaurants and teppanyaki grills like Plaque Cuisine de GAMIN. For your sweet tooth, there are plenty of dessert shops like Happy Pudding, where you can enjoy sweet, creamy treats. Here are my go-to restaurants in Nakameguro.
- Onibus Coffee - Address - For coffee lovers, Onibus is a must-visit. This specialty coffee shop serves some of the best brews in Tokyo using beans from around the world. What makes this coffee shop special is the cool views of the passing trains.
- Afuri Nakameguro - Address - If you're in the mood for ramen, this head to the delicious Afuri Ramen known for its yuzu infused broth. It's one of my favourite ramen chains in Tokyo so it's well worth a stop.
- Ivy Place - Address - With its open terrace and stylish interior, Ivy Place is an ideal spot for a leisurely brunch. Try pancakes, pizza & brunch cocktails, and enjoy the outdoor garden. It's the place to be if you enjoy smoothies for breakfast.
- Seirinkan - Address - Beatles themed pizza place with hand stretched pizzas. The base of the pizzas are freshly made, with a lovely bready bite. Don't be surprised if you see a long queue here, their pizzas are very popular.
- Ohka the Bestdays - Address - Modern izakayas with a range of delicious gyozas. Make sure to try the gyozas with melted cheese and a refreshing beer on the side.
- Happy Pudding - Address - A small dessert shop famous for its puddings. Each pudding is carefully made and has a perfect balance of sweetness. The store's setting is quaint and it's a great place to stop for a sweet treat after dinner.
- Teppanyaki dinner at Plaque Cuisine de GAMIN - Address - A teppanyaki restaurant offering a variety of grilled dishes. The atmosphere is sophisticated, making it an excellent choice for a special night out. You can watch as chefs expertly cook their food on a teppan (grill), enhancing the overall dining experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Nakameguro worth visiting?
Absolutely, Nakameguro is definitely worth visiting. It's one of Tokyo's most stylish and charming neighbourhoods, known for its picturesque scenery, particularly during cherry blossom season when the Meguro River is lined with beautiful sakura trees. Nakameguro has a relaxed, cool vibe that sets it apart from the bustling city life of other Tokyo districts. The area has lots of indie boutiques, art galleries and really cool cafes. You will find plenty of great places for brunch and many bars, some with a more artsy vibe.
What is Nakameguro known for?
Nakameguro is most famous for the beautiful scene that unfolds every spring along the Meguro River, where more than 800 cherry trees blossom in pink and white. The neighbourhood is also renowned for its trensy and artsy vibe, with its boutique stores, chic cafes, and stylish eateries. Many of these establishments are found along the Meguro River, offering beautiful views while you shop or dine.
The neighbourhood is home to a diverse food scene that ranges from traditional Japanese izakayas to innovative fusion restaurants. In recent years, Nakameguro has gained a reputation as a coffee destination, with numerous speciality coffee shops sprinkled throughout the area. The district is known for its artistic flair, with several art galleries, live music venues, and creative spaces that contribute to the neighbourhood's cultural scene. With its charming aesthetic and eclectic offerings, Nakameguro is certainly a standout among Tokyo's many neighbourhoods.
Is Nakameguro a good place to live?
Nakameguro is indeed considered a great place to live, especially if you value a peaceful, relaxed lifestyle with a touch of sophistication.
- Nakameguro is centrally located and has excellent transport links. It's just a few stops away from major hubs like Shibuya and Roppongi on the Tokyu Toyoko Line or the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, making commuting relatively easy.
- The Meguro River, with its cherry trees lining the canal, provides a beautiful backdrop for daily life, especially during the spring cherry blossom season.
- With its diverse array of eateries and bars, ranging from traditional izakayas and ramen shops to hipster cafes and gourmet restaurants, Nakameguro is a food lover's paradise.
- The area is filled with trendy boutiques, chic cafés, and vintage shops, reflecting the stylish and artsy character of the neighbourhood.
- Despite its central location, Nakameguro maintains a community feel with a slower pace of life compared to the bustling city centre.
- Like much of Tokyo, Nakameguro is considered a safe neighbourhood with low crime rates.
- There's no shortage of cultural activities in Nakameguro, with art galleries, live music venues, and various festivals throughout the year.
That being said, like any area, there are potential downsides. Cost of living can be higher in Nakameguro compared to other parts of Tokyo, especially when it comes to rent. This is something to consider when thinking about moving there.