Whether you realize it or not, you likely already know of Nakameguro. This neighborhood, which is equal parts cozy and sophisticated, is known for its cherry blossom tree-lined river, drawing massive crowds each spring.
You’ve likely seen photos from this river during cherry blossom season, but no matter the time of year, Nakameguro has so much to offer, even if you’re exploring on a budget.
Spending a Day in Nakameguro on a Budget
Get to know this stylishly eclectic neighborhood with these budget-friendly recommendations:
Junk Food That’s Not Junky
Nakameguro offers an amazing assortment of food options, including top-quality sushi spots, warming Japanese oden, and some of the best pizza in the city. But if you’re on a budget, turn to a spot like Bells, a hotdog shop serving up New York-inspired dogs with original toppings and refreshing shakes on the side. And for those who don’t eat pork, there are vegan and chicken hotdogs available.
Another option: casual Mexican spot Baja. Come here for tacos, burritos, nachos, cheap drinks, and a fun and lively atmosphere. Like Bells, meat-free options are available.
Free Activities From the Gorgeous to the Gross
After filling your stomach with cheap eats, explore all the free and inexpensive activities Nakameguro has to offer. Even though this area isn’t known for being cheap, there are several budget-friendly gems to discover by wandering in and around the neighborhood’s side streets.
Easily the best free sight to see is the Meguro River, an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll. If you visit the river when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, you’ll find crowds swarming the canal to take photos and drink beer under the flowers. If you want to avoid the crowds but still enjoy hanami, venture away from Nakameguro Station in the direction of Ikejiri-Ohashi Station—this end of the river tends to be less crowded, yet is still equally stunning.
Another free gem near the river towards Ikejiri-Ohashi is Meguro Sky Garden. Take the elevator up for a peaceful garden above the streets. On clear days, you can even see Mt. Fuji in the distance. Use your time at the Meguro Sky Garden to slow down and catch your breath before doing more walking.
When you’re ready to venture back down to the streets, head to the Meguro Parasitological Museum, which always offers free entry. Though this museum is closer to Meguro Station than Nakameguro Station, it’s still worth the trek for those interested in everything weird and gross. Here you can view exhibits on parasites and plenty of real specimens lining the walls in jars.
Digging for Treasures
When you think of vintage and thrift goods, you may think of places like Shimokitazawa before Nakameguro. But Nakameguro, too, offers thrift clothing shops, antique furniture stores, and more.
If you’re open to digging for cheap treasures, head to the Small Cat clothing store or Dessin, a rare book store. For little trinkets and stationery, much of which is under ¥1,000, try visiting Traveler’s Factory.
Credits: @witsarud on Instagram
A Caffeine Fix Next to the Train Tracks
A visit to Nakameguro isn’t complete without a stop at Onibus Coffee, a tiny coffee stand located right next to the train tracks near Nakameguro Station. There’s a small seating area upstairs where you can watch the trains go by, or you can take your cup of joe to the adjacent park. Onibus is known for its delicious coffee from specialty beans, which you can enjoy even on a budget: most drinks are priced at around ¥400.
Enjoy a Day in Nakameguro on a Budget
Though known for its river canal and unique food and shopping options, what really makes Nakameguro so special are the surprises you can find just from wandering the area on foot. Try visiting this cozy-yet-classy area to see what budget-friendly surprises you might stumble upon.