Nakameguro: A Guide to Tokyo’s Artsy and Chic Neighborhood

Nakameguro: A Guide to Tokyo’s Artsy and Chic Neighborhood

Nakameguro - A Guide to Tokyo's Most Chic and Artsy Neighborhood

During hanami season, this attractive area transforms into a breathtaking landscape where people from all over Tokyo come to stroll along the famous Meguro River lined with soft pink blossoming cherry trees. Nakameguro is not only popular amongst Tokyo’s younger crowds, but appeals to the older generation with its inventive museums, charming cafes, and luxurious restaurants. One of the most picturesque yet lesser-known parts of Tokyo, at least to tourists, you won’t want to leave your camera at home when visiting Nakameguro.


History and Background


 

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Nakameguro (中目黒), translated literally as “inside of Meguro” is a residential district within the larger ward of Meguro. Meguro was formerly separated into two towns, Meguro Proper and Hibusama, but was merged into what is today’s Meguro ward back in 1932.

Just a 10-minute walk from Meguro station, you’ll find a Tenday Buddhist Temple called Ryusenji (瀧泉寺) more popularly known as Meguro-fudoson. Within the grounds is a small waterfall pond as well as the famous Meguro Fudo-Myoo (Wisdom King Acala) statue. This sentinel is actually where Meguro got its name: me meaning ‘eye’ and kuro (guro) meaning ‘black.’ It is one of five statues around Tokyo, all featuring different colored eyes, each one designated to protect Edo’s borders almost 400 years ago.


Things To Do


Tokyo Photographic Art Museum

One of the world’s best photography museums, established in 1986 is waiting to be explored in Nakameguro. It’s a wonderful choice if you’d like to see the breadth of contemporary and classic photography that have amassed over the years. You’ll find both Japanese works and pieces from around the world across three galleries. If you’re interested in studying more about photography, then you’ll be impressed with the library which stocks Japanese and international books on the art of photography.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasite Museum fish

Parasitic specimens preserved for your viewing. Photo by Randiah Green.

Perhaps the last museum you’d expect to find here but this genuinely fascinating, perhaps a bit grotesque, museum dedicated to parasites is invaluable and perfect for anyone who has a passing interest in science. Inside, you’ll find a nine-meter tapeworm (which you can get a t-shirt of) as well as a host of a number of other critters housed in glass jars, over 5,000 books on parasites, and scientific journals detailing the museum’s various research and findings regarding these freeloaders over the years.


Where to Shop


Traveler’s Factory

 

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I’ll never get tired of finding quirky and themed stationery shops in Tokyo and here lies another gem. It’s a tiny shop that’s dedicated to travelers—more specifically the art of journaling popularized by travelers over the years. You’ll find the walls lined with journals of your dreams, vintage-stamps, satchels, fountain pens, and any other stationery item you could imagine. Though it can be a bit difficult to locate, it’s a delightful shop that’s more than worth the time it takes to be unearthed.

Meguro Dori 

 

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If you love interior design or are looking to add a bit of character to your Tokyo pad, then a stroll down Meguro Dori is ideal. Even if your crib is already perfected, the Euro-Japanese vibe of the street and the balanced combination of furniture shops and retro cafes is a winner (try Factory & Labo Kanno Coffee for the best drip coffee and a selection of sandwiches).

 

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If you’re specifically looking for retro Japanese items then make sure you catch Case Study Shop which is a treasure trove for kitsch lovers.

Geographica

 

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This Tokyo secondhand shop specializes in all of the pleasant things in life: second-hand books in both English and Japanese, pre-loved toys and threads, antique furniture, and old postcards and photos to sift through. The whimsical layout entices you to get lost in there for days. You’ll also find the wonderful Italian cafe II Nuovo Levante upstairs with seating modeled after train cars.

Savvy insight: Anyone who speaks Japanese can take classes in furniture restoration with the owners of Geographica.


Where to Eat and Drink


Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Two made-to-order espresso martinis from the Arriviamo Bar.

It was hard to miss the hype when the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened this year but because it really is as beautiful as everyone says, you don’t want to miss popping in next time you’re in Nakameguro. This four-story beauty is dedicated to excellent coffee, upscale architecture (designed in collaboration with Japan’s ultra-famous architect Kengo Kuma), and sakura—something you’ll notice when you spot the 2,100 handmade artisan copper sakura leaves inside. Be sure you try the espresso martini at the Arriviamo Bar which will ensure your return, sooner rather than later.

Higashi-Yama Tokyo

 

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Combining a beautiful minimalist space, gorgeous ceramics, and food that’s been elevated to an art form, this bento spot is exactly what you need to compliment a day spent exploring the neighborhood. The menu is focused on washoku (traditional Japanese food) and is cooked to perfection, such as the matcha blancmange and the seasonal vegetable stew. It’s a great space for groups or solo-eaters. Because it’s hard not to everything on the menu, we recommend the insanely delicious wagyu beef cutlet, cooked to perfection by an expert chef. And if you’ve got room for dessert then don’t miss out on the green tea panna cotta; originally an Italian dessert made from sweetened and thickened cream but here flavored with matcha to create a Japanese taste like no other.

Yakitori Akira

Yakitori Akira - Nakameguro - A Guide to Tokyo's Most Chic and Artsy Neighborhood

A wonderful and extremely popular izakaya in Nakameguro that’s the perfect place for a drink and snack after a day exploring the area. You may have to wait for a seat but once you see the incredible rustic interior, you’ll know it was worth the wait. And if that doesn’t convince you then wait until the smell of grilled meat hits you. Settle in for some karaage (fried chicken) and umeshu (plum wine) in the neighborhood and relax.

Chum Apartment

 

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Another gorgeous cafe near Nakameguro housed in a once run-down mansion and renovated by Japanese artist Chiharu Yoshikawa, Chum Apartment is a traveler’s dream. From the Morrocan color scheme to the European ironwork, low lighting, and chandeliers, it’s the perfect balance of mixed styles. If you’ve been searching for another Instagrammable cafe, look no further—this is it. They also do a great lunch set which includes a coffee or tea. You’ll also find Mucha, a shop selling handmade ceramics upstairs which is well-worth popping into.


Events


Catch breathtaking hanami views along the Meguro River

Nakameguro - A Guide to Tokyo's Most Chic and Artsy Neighborhood

The incredible view of the sakura blossoms along the Meguro River.

Nakameguro is one of the most festive spots in Tokyo during the hanami season, and walking along the river during the peak of spring is one of the most pleasant places to wander on foot in the city. Each side of the river is lined with cherry trees covered in sakura that are in full bloom. The petals scatter gently on the water, you can even take canal rides down the river during the season. At night the river and trees are lit up with pink lanterns and you’ll find food stands selling everything from classic yakitori to seasonal sakura-flavored bubbly. Feel free to wander down the river at any time of the year—it’s always scenic and never lets you down.


Getting There


Nakameguro Station

A crowd of people arriving at Nakameguro Station via the Toyoko and Hibiya metro lines.

You can take the JR Yamanote, Toei Mita, Tokyo Meguro, and Metro Namboku to Meguro station. Alternatively, take the metro Hibiya and Tokyo Tokyoko lines to Nakameguro station.