Alternative Tokyo: Nakameguro Neighborhood Guide

Situated on the banks of the Meguro River and a popular place to view the cherry blossoms in spring, Nakameguro is one of Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods.  While it’s close to busy Shibuya, strolling along the banks of the river with a mix of hip locals and celebs alike, will have you feeling like you’re in an entirely different city. If you’re keen on exploring off-the-beaten-path areas in Tokyo with great coffee, eateries and shops, this Nakameguro guide is for you.

Nakameguro is walking distance from the busy Shibuya and two of Tokyo’s other trendy neighborhoods, Daikanyama and Ebisu.  When you stroll along the Meguro canal, you are joined by locals walking their well-groomed dogs, joggers and a new type of sophisticated hipster sipping on the best artisanal coffee.  This feels like a neighborhood I could live in comfortably with everything I need – from bars to bookstores.

Meguro River in summer
Meguro River in spring

Things to do in Nakameguro

Stroll along the river

By far the most popular thing to do is strolling along the banks of the river. It’s one of the best spots in Tokyo to watch the cherry blossoms. The overarching trees across the river is pretty in every season.

Visit a sky garden or museum

The Meguro Sky Garden is located on top of the Metropolitan Expressway. As there is not a lot of parks in the area, this cool green space is worth a visit if only to marvel at the magnificent design. The garden is a three-minute walk from Ikejiri Ohashi station. The Museum of Contemporary Sculpture is also in Nakameguro and there’s some small galleries along the river that’s worth checking out like MDP Gallery.

I walked from my hotel in Dongenzaka, Shibuya, and along the way I discovered two parks, Sugekari and Saigoyama, in the middle of the resendetial area between Nakameguro and Daikanyama. If I had known this earlier, I would’ve come here to escape the concrete jungle that is Shibuya.

Local shrines, temples and back streets

I had so much fun just strolling around in the backstreets just off the river canal where I discovered some older buildings – mostly used for izakaya, squashed in with the new and modern Nakameguro. Nakameguro is not really famous for temples or shrines, but you can give the Shokakuji Temple a try. A bit further is Yutenki Temple and the beautiful traditional Kyu Asakura House (Dainkanyama).

Shopping and eating in Nakameguro

Nakameguto Koukashita is 700 meters of space below the train tracks of Nakameguro station, filled with eateries and shops – most notably all centered around the Nakameguro branch of Tsutaya Books.

I discovered an excellent supermarket, LIFE, in the area. Head here if you want to buy fresh Japanese produce, deliciously prepared meals and bentos, or if just want to shop where the local housewives shop. Also, keep an eye out for Blendy’s instant pour-over filter coffee. Best invention ever. I stuffed my bag full of it and take a packet to work everyday – but I have discovered it can be ordered and delivered to SA on Amazon! *happy face*

EEL (Easy Earl Life products) is a trendy fashion boutique in a stripped back office building selling oh-so-cool clothes for men.

SML is a specialty shop selling ceramic and glass tableware.

Irma Records has some great vinyl treasures (like vintage Bjork) and some of their own hip merchandise. There is also Waltz, that even has cassette tapes in good condition.

Another trendy bookstore is Cow Books which deals with out of print books and unknown or forgotten authors.

1LDK is another uber cool clothing and concepts store where you can grab some very hipster-looking garments for (slightly) high prices. If you’re rather one for bargain hunting, check out the huge Don Quijote Nakameguro branch for the weird and wonderful of Japanese discount stores. The Don Quijote head office is actually located here.

Get your coffee fix

Nakameguro is filled with hip coffee shops and stands to get your daily caffeine fix. Onibus coffee is one of the most popular. I had fun trying to find this place, even with Google maps. Like I said – backstreets I love you.

The amazing Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened earlier this year and is an absolute must visit. Read the full article here. The terrace on the top floor is perfect for cherry blossom watching.

Other places to look out for is the newly opened Blue Bottle Coffee Nakameguro branch, Streamer Coffee Company, Amazing Coffee and Sidewalk Stand.

Onibus Coffee
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Toyko The Nomadic Panda Blog
Delicious coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Enjoy the best artisanal foods

The deeper you venture into the side streets from the canal, the better your chances are of stumbling onto some great artisanal food shops. Green bean to Bar Chocolate will have you drooling just from the smell of freshly prepared chocolate. You can also feed your sweet tooth by grabbing one of the hugely popular souffle pancake desserts at Flippers. I have to admit, after stopping to eat of drink coffee every few steps, I did not have any space left for one of these. But let me just say – they look amazing.

And if you’re not into the sweet stuff, you can get your daily bread at one of the bakeries like The City Bakery (close to the train station) or Lotus Baguette.

My best find was the bagel version of Sidewalk Stand coffee, called Baisen and Bagel Sidewalk Stand. They have chocolate bagels with blue berry cream spread people.

Places to grab a delicious bite

Nakameguro Koukashita (the space under the train tracks) has some great food options. I love Soup Stock for a quick, cheap and nutritious meal. Try one of their bisque soups or a plate of hot curry. They have a few stores throughout Tokyo and all over Japan. There’s also the popular Loncafe, which serves french toast and champagne. Just across the street you will find Afuri Ramen. They specialize in ramen with light broths made from chicken and dried fish and combine it with yuzu. The most popular is the yuzu shio ramen or the yuzu shoyu ramen. I ordered a big bowl of the yuzu shoyu ramen and it was delicious.

Nakameguro is filled with izakayas and they really come alive in the evenings when all the business men return from the city to have a quick drink and a snack. Kushiwakamaru has been around for ages and specializes in delicious yakitori. Grilled things on a stick drenched in umami sauce? Yes please.

A bit further you’ll find Taco Fanatico, serving delicious mexican fusion food, and Wagyu Mafia who makes a mean wagyu cutlet sandwich.

There’s also a few trendy bars in the area like Marzac7. Or you can head to Pavillion, also under the train tracks, for good cocktails and dinner. They do a lot of char-grilled meat and vegetable dishes here.

Afuri Ramen shop Nakameguro
Yuzu shoyu ramen at Afuri Nakameguro
Loncafe Nakameguro
How to get to Nakameguro

Nakameguro can easily be reached by the Metro Hibiya line, or the Tokyo Toyoko line.

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Where to from here?

The classy neighborhood of Daikanyama is just a short walk away, where you will find the beautifully designed T-Site for Tatsuya Books. Believe me, you can spend hours here.

*This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclaimer here.

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