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A Quaint Little Town in the Heart of Tokyo

Updated on September 25, 2014
Nogata Shopping Street
Nogata Shopping Street

Welcome to Nogata

Living in one of the largest cities in the world can sometimes feel overwhelming. Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world at 5,310 sq miles, with a population of 13.23 million people. Divided into 23 wards, which are like small cities themselves, Tokyo is a bewilderingly complex city.

The Nakano ward, located in the north-western part of the city, is a fairly large area consisting of a little over 6 sq miles and includes residential,shopping and entertainment areas. It's one of the most livable areas with many gems to explore, but Nakano is most famous for Nakano Broadway, a shopping complex selling all genres of anime, idol dolls, retro toys and anything related to manga.

Nogata, where I've been calling home for over ten years, lies on the edge of Nakano ward, and is easily accessible by train and bus. The quaint atmosphere of this residential area is dotted with lots of family-owned businesses, which is getting harder to find these days.

Transportation is plentiful and provides easy access to anywhere in the city.

So what's so great about living in this part of town? Why should you make a visit to one of these quaint residential areas on your next trip to Tokyo? Keep reading to find out.

*All photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

So Tell Me...

Have you ever visited Japan?

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My Favorite Books on Tokyo

Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods
Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods

I keep recommending this book to friends who are looking for a great souvenir of their visit. Full of fun and humorous information with every page beautifully illustrated by hand, Tokyo on Foot will make you feel like you're wandering around the side streets of Tokyo.

 

A Residential Oasis in the City

The Neighborhood 100 Yen Store
The Neighborhood 100 Yen Store

I've always gravitated towards this side of town for a variety of reasons. First of all, Nogata is a fairly quiet residential area but it's only a stone's throw away from the frenetic center of Shinjuku, the busiest train station in the world.

I love the convenience of the city, however I prefer not to be in the center of it all. What's really cool though, is that I never really have to leave my part of town because everything I need is literally just outside my doorstep.

Tokyo, 29 Walks in the World's Most Exciting City
Tokyo, 29 Walks in the World's Most Exciting City

Walking is the best way to get to know a city and fortunately, Tokyo was made for walking. Of course being that the city is so huge, this book includes 29 walks through the most interesting parts of the city. Includes detailed maps as well as essential information on how to get to the destination.

 

Let Me Show You Around

I live on the 8th floor of an 8-story apartment. I have views of the city on one side and a view of Mt. Fuji on the other.
I live on the 8th floor of an 8-story apartment. I have views of the city on one side and a view of Mt. Fuji on the other.
Let's hop on our bikes and go for a short ride around my neighborhood.
Let's hop on our bikes and go for a short ride around my neighborhood.
Back streets are mostly residential and great for walks with my dog.
Back streets are mostly residential and great for walks with my dog.
Two blocks away is this charming flower and garden shop.
Two blocks away is this charming flower and garden shop.
A flower shop and cafe that's hidden and tucked away in one of the back streets of Nogata.
A flower shop and cafe that's hidden and tucked away in one of the back streets of Nogata.
Next to the flower shop is a bakery/cafe on the 1st floor with an Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor.
Next to the flower shop is a bakery/cafe on the 1st floor with an Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor.
Streets are narrow so people, bicycles and cars must share the valuable space. Watch out for the occasional cat.
Streets are narrow so people, bicycles and cars must share the valuable space. Watch out for the occasional cat.
A 24-hour Denny's can be found right across from my building in case I get a craving for mediocre food at 2 AM.
A 24-hour Denny's can be found right across from my building in case I get a craving for mediocre food at 2 AM.
A 24-hour supermarket where everything is just 100 yen ( $1US ). Fruits, vegetables, canned goods and more all at just $1US!
A 24-hour supermarket where everything is just 100 yen ( $1US ). Fruits, vegetables, canned goods and more all at just $1US!
Little pockets of parks can be found by getting lost in the maze of houses and apartment buildings.
Little pockets of parks can be found by getting lost in the maze of houses and apartment buildings.
You never know what you'll find around the next bend.
You never know what you'll find around the next bend.
Many gardening shops can be found in this part of town.
Many gardening shops can be found in this part of town.
A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony
A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony

Discover a whole new side of Japan that you never knew existed. Manga and anime fans from around the world flock to Japan for all the quirkiness that can be found here. However if you're more into zen and peace, you can find that here too. The unique way the book is written lets you open the book at random, letting you find something interesting on any page.

 

A Great Place for a Foodie Like Me

Totora-tei my favorite restaurant in Nogata
Totora-tei my favorite restaurant in Nogata

There are many fantastic restaurants within walking distance of my apartment. When I get hungry, the hardest part is trying to decide where to go. There are close to 100 restaurants in this relatively small area with a variety of cuisine to satisfy any picky eater.

Whether you're looking for Thai, French, Italian or a traditional Japanese meal, you'll find something that'll satisfy your hunger.

Totora-tei has to be one of my favorite restaurants in Nogata. Owned and run by a very friendly couple,this small and cozy place serves up some of the best food in town. It's hard to describe their menu, but the food is "eclectic international" with a Japanese flair.

Twice a year, they travel to a country of their choosing, such as Peru, Mexico or Hungary. Once they return home, the chef tries to recreate some of their favorite dishes from that country using local ingredients. So in addition to their regular menu of homemade quiches, smoked dishes and grilled meats, they will serve a variety of "new" dishes, which usually change every three months.

For example, we were treated to Peruvian food last month. This month, they've come up with a German menu that I can't wait to try.

Food, Sake, Tokyo

Food Sake Tokyo (The Terroir Guides)
Food Sake Tokyo (The Terroir Guides)

With all the fantastic restaurants in Tokyo, the hardest part is deciding where and what to eat. If your travels revolve around food, this book is a must-have. Whether you're visiting for the first time or you're returning for a second time, this book will guide you to some of the best food on the planet.

Not only will you learn about where to eat the best sushi in town, you'll get a peek into the unique culture of the Japanese people.

 

My Favorite Restaurants in Nogata

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Totora-Tei from the outside.On the regular menu at Totora-Tei is their creamy homemade quiche.Green Tea Cheesecake is my favorite dessert at Totora-TeiThis is where I come for afternoon coffee and cinnamon toast breaks. Cafe MukuSlather on some of that freshly-whipped cream onto Cafe Muku's version of cinnamon toast.Spicy Indian restaurant near the station.Harenohi ( meaning "A Sunny Day" ), is a new cafe specializing in individually made coffee and sweets.Each coffee is prepared invidivually like this in a siphon. Many varieties to choose from.Pomme de Pain is my favorite French bistro in Nogata. Great rustic provincial cuisine served in a casual atmosphere.A great selection of wines can be found at the numerous supermarkets and specialty shops in Nogata.Lots of ramen shops around here. This one specializes in Tonkotsu Ramen ( pork-based noodles)The Indian restaurant I frequent for lunch on a weekly basis. They have the best butter chicken curry.Traditional Japanese pubs are on every street and every corner.This French-style bakery is right in front of the station.Incredibly charming cafe on the 1st floor. Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor.
Totora-Tei from the outside.
Totora-Tei from the outside.
On the regular menu at Totora-Tei is their creamy homemade quiche.
On the regular menu at Totora-Tei is their creamy homemade quiche.
Green Tea Cheesecake is my favorite dessert at Totora-Tei
Green Tea Cheesecake is my favorite dessert at Totora-Tei
This is where I come for afternoon coffee and cinnamon toast breaks. Cafe Muku
This is where I come for afternoon coffee and cinnamon toast breaks. Cafe Muku
Slather on some of that freshly-whipped cream onto Cafe Muku's version of cinnamon toast.
Slather on some of that freshly-whipped cream onto Cafe Muku's version of cinnamon toast.
Spicy Indian restaurant near the station.
Spicy Indian restaurant near the station.
Harenohi ( meaning "A Sunny Day" ), is a new cafe specializing in individually made coffee and sweets.
Harenohi ( meaning "A Sunny Day" ), is a new cafe specializing in individually made coffee and sweets.
Each coffee is prepared invidivually like this in a siphon. Many varieties to choose from.
Each coffee is prepared invidivually like this in a siphon. Many varieties to choose from.
Pomme de Pain is my favorite French bistro in Nogata. Great rustic provincial cuisine served in a casual atmosphere.
Pomme de Pain is my favorite French bistro in Nogata. Great rustic provincial cuisine served in a casual atmosphere.
A great selection of wines can be found at the numerous supermarkets and specialty shops in Nogata.
A great selection of wines can be found at the numerous supermarkets and specialty shops in Nogata.
Lots of ramen shops around here. This one specializes in Tonkotsu Ramen ( pork-based noodles)
Lots of ramen shops around here. This one specializes in Tonkotsu Ramen ( pork-based noodles)
The Indian restaurant I frequent for lunch on a weekly basis. They have the best butter chicken curry.
The Indian restaurant I frequent for lunch on a weekly basis. They have the best butter chicken curry.
Traditional Japanese pubs are on every street and every corner.
Traditional Japanese pubs are on every street and every corner.
This French-style bakery is right in front of the station.
This French-style bakery is right in front of the station.
Incredibly charming cafe on the 1st floor. Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor.
Incredibly charming cafe on the 1st floor. Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor.

Are You a Foodie?

If you visited Nogata, where would you have lunch?

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Wait! There's More!

Not only does Nogata boast a variety of eateries ( restaurants, bakeries, cake shops and take-out delis ), there are 5 supermarkets, numerous specialty shops, interesting bars and pubs and even a bookstore. Clinics, banks and schools stand side-by-side with dance schools, laundromats and florists.

Pockets of green can be found all over town, with secluded parks and vegetable fields scattered throughout the neighborhood. If you don't mind walking a bit further, you'll find Tetsugakudo Park, famous for its interesting history and cherry blossom trees in the springtime.

Other Random Funkiness

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Import shop selling stuff from countries such as India, Thailand, China, Australia and the US.Espoir is the oldest bread shop in Nogata.A selection of breads at Espoir.One of my favorite florists in my neighborhood.Another flower shop down the street.Discount candy store I try to stay away from.One of the supermarkets on the main shopping street.Used clothing store. Every item is 525 yen or approximately $5US!Fruit and vegetable store at discount prices.Take-out Chinese food with the best sweet-and-sour pork.Arcade-style shopping street with tofu shops, crystal store, chiropractic clinic and other randomness.One of the older arcade-style shopping streets.Many new funky shops have opened in recent years. Flyers plastered on the shutters advertising disco night.Random store in a hidden side street.We even have our very own miniature shrine.
Import shop selling stuff from countries such as India, Thailand, China, Australia and the US.
Import shop selling stuff from countries such as India, Thailand, China, Australia and the US.
Espoir is the oldest bread shop in Nogata.
Espoir is the oldest bread shop in Nogata.
A selection of breads at Espoir.
A selection of breads at Espoir.
One of my favorite florists in my neighborhood.
One of my favorite florists in my neighborhood.
Another flower shop down the street.
Another flower shop down the street.
Discount candy store I try to stay away from.
Discount candy store I try to stay away from.
One of the supermarkets on the main shopping street.
One of the supermarkets on the main shopping street.
Used clothing store. Every item is 525 yen or approximately $5US!
Used clothing store. Every item is 525 yen or approximately $5US!
Fruit and vegetable store at discount prices.
Fruit and vegetable store at discount prices.
Take-out Chinese food with the best sweet-and-sour pork.
Take-out Chinese food with the best sweet-and-sour pork.
Arcade-style shopping street with tofu shops, crystal store, chiropractic clinic and other randomness.
Arcade-style shopping street with tofu shops, crystal store, chiropractic clinic and other randomness.
One of the older arcade-style shopping streets.
One of the older arcade-style shopping streets.
Many new funky shops have opened in recent years. Flyers plastered on the shutters advertising disco night.
Many new funky shops have opened in recent years. Flyers plastered on the shutters advertising disco night.
Random store in a hidden side street.
Random store in a hidden side street.
We even have our very own miniature shrine.
We even have our very own miniature shrine.

If You Lived in Tokyo...

Where would you live?

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Essential Information

Nogata station
Nogata station

Tokyo, known for its glittering neon lights, trendy fashion and frenetic lifestyle, is all of that and more. If it's your first time to this mega-city, visiting the highlights is a must. But don't be afraid to step off the beaten track by getting onto a local train to explore some local flavor. And if you ever find yourself in Nogata, give me a call. I'll take you to a cafe with the best cheesecake in town!

Getting to Nogata is easy. Take the Seibu-Shinjuku Line from Seibu-Shinjuku Station. It's just 10-15 minutes from Shinjuku, the busiest station in the world. You can also transfer to the Seibu-Shinjuku Line at Takadanobaba from the JR or metro subway lines. Buses to Nogata leave from Nakano, Koenji and Nerima stations.

*Photo of Nogata Station

Other Articles You Might Enjoy

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my hometown. Check out some of my other travel articles on Japan.

An Oasis in Tokyo

Hakone Trip in Autumn

Three Days in Hiroshima

If you enjoy reading about travel and food, you might also like my blog TabiEats. Focusing on my food and travel adventures throughout Japan, Hawaii and anywhere that I can afford to get myself to. Check out TabiEats today!

Did You Enjoy Your Visit to Nogata? Let Me Know What You Thought In The Comments Below.

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    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      So glad you enjoyed this and thanks so much for commenting.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 2 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      I love traveling by means of visiting your travel articles. Truly interesting! I enjoyed seeing your hometown, the cafes, and flower shops. And your home!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      RoadMonkey, that's amazing. Actually I hear stories like that all the time. :)

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      BarbRad, you might enjoy the more remote areas of Japan, perhaps start there first as Tokyo can be a shock to even the most seasoned traveler.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      CherylsArt, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Actually Tokyo itself is basically very bicycle friendly. I take my bike everywhere I go.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Paula Atwell, thanks so much for visiting my neighborhood! I look forward to welcoming you here. :)

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 2 years ago

      Looks a great place to visit. A friend's son went to Japan to teach English for a year after University and is now married to a Japanese girl.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 2 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I've always wanted to see Japan, since I have so many Japanese friends here, some of whom were born there. My first impression from your photos is how crowded it is. I'm more of a country girl and would find living in a city, even in this suburb, a real adjustment.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      I enjoyed my visit through your hub. Your immediate area looks pretty bicycle friendly, with all the bikes lined up outside the buildings. I got a chuckle out of your comment about Denny's.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I would love to visit Japan, and when I do, I am going to hire you as my tour guide. You are so good at telling us about each part of the area, but I laughed at the Denny's sign. Not what I expect to see in Japan. This is on my bucket list. After my kids are done with college--sigh. . .

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 3 years ago

      You make me want to visit. Can just sense how much you love your town with a city.

    • profile image

      zubaer_ahammed 3 years ago

      beautiful town.. worth visiting

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 3 years ago from New York

      My son and daughter-in-law live in Tokyo. Hope I have a chance to visit them there soon.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      I like your neighborhood! Sounds like a little heaven on earth!

    • Spirality profile image

      Spirality 3 years ago

      I love your photographs. Nogata looks and sounds delightful. I love getting lost in cities and discovering the little neighborhood shops. Great lens!

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I am so glad you are my tour guide. You show the most interesting places that I never would have seen otherwise.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 3 years ago

      Nogata sounds like a neat place! I was surprised how global the cuisine is. Shows how much I know!

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      I am so happy to hear of all the great things happening in Nogata. Such a wonderful place !

    • profile image

      nonya222 3 years ago

      My son will be living in Tokyo soon which means I get to visit:>) Great lens!

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 3 years ago from Europe

      What a lovely little tour.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I'd love to visit Tokyo someday and eat as much tempura as I want..ha, ha!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @JessicaLVine LM: Definitely Jessica. Dinner it is!

    • PeacefulHeather profile image

      PeacefulHeather 3 years ago

      Thanks so much for commenting on my very first lens. I loved this lens. I really gave me an insiders view of where you live. I didn't even know that these little areas of suburbia existed in Tokyo. I would love to visit some day. It looks really cool. Do you have traditional American food as well? Not McDonalds, but like real hamburgers and pub fries? How about southern cuisine? My family is originally from Louisiana here in the US and we love to make Gumbo, Etufee, and Red Beans and Rice.

    • JessicaLVine LM profile image

      JessicaLVine LM 3 years ago

      You always put such detail into your work! I do really feel as if I have visited you! All of the food looks delicious as well!! When we come to visit we can go to dinner. ;)

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thanks for visiting. I hope you get a chance to visit.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @flinnie lm: Aww thanks so much.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Max Globe: Thanks Max. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Merrci: So glad you came to visit!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @MarathonRunning: I do hope you come and visit. Your cheesecake has your name on it!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Titia: I'm so glad you visited. Thanks!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @seahorse60: It was my pleasure showing you around. The green tea cheesecake is amazing.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @flycatcherrr: That slice of cheesecake will be waiting for you with your name on it.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @ecogranny: Totoratei is such a lovely restaurant with a cool concept. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @captainj88: I do hope you get a chance to visit Japan. It's varied and quite interesting.

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @sousababy: You're absolutely welcome to visit!

    • smine27 profile image
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      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Susan Zutautas: Yes Susan. The dollar store really is a life-saver for me. I'll be waiting for your visit!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Nancy Hardin: I'll be sharing every bit of me with the world here. :) It would be my pleasure to show you around this area.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Diana Wenzel: Glad you like it. Just give me a call and I'll meet you at the station!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @David Stone1: Osaka is a great place to visit, especially if you're into food. It's also close to Kyoto and Nara, two very special places with lots of history. I hope you get a chance to visit Dave.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      I love reading your lenses about Tokyo and Japan. I'd love to go to Japan someday.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 3 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi smine27, thanks for sharing this great lens with us. I enjoyed reading about where you live and the places you like to eat.

    • Max Globe profile image

      Max Globe 3 years ago

      Thank you for telling us about this hidden gem! Cool lens:)

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      That was such a fun vicarious visit, Smine27! Love all the photos showing the area where you live. It's amazing to see the huge variety of restaurants. Loved the bikes lining the row of homes too. It looks like it would be a wonderful spot to visit! Another great lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thank you for a lovely tour! I hope to be fortunate enough to visit Tokyo someday and I`m counting on that cheesecake ;)

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 3 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      You are a great PR man for advertizing your city. I know I'll never go to Tokyo, but I really enjoyed it through your eyes.

    • profile image

      seahorse60 3 years ago

      Thanks for showing us around your hometown! I loved your photos, it was interesting to see the different mix of buildings and your apartment block looks beautiful. It was also nice to see the different types of food on offer. The green tea cheesecake and the chocolate gateau look yummy!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      Wonderful photographs! It's so clear why you love living in Nogata. I've never visited Japan, but if I ever do make it to Tokyo you can bet I'll take you up on that offer of cheesecake and a tour. :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Totally enjoyed it! Thank you so much for the pictorial tour. You made me want to visit, although I could do without the Dennys and McDonalds. Too many of those in the world for my taste. I especially enjoyed learning about Totora-tei and the owners' trips to far lands and how they bring back the cuisine they've discovered.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      What an interesting place. I would not enjoy the heart of the city much, unless I was traveling with someone very comfortable and familiar with it, but someplace less busy but with so much life and variety is very appealing to me.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 3 years ago

      Your hometown sounds like a fabulous place to visit - perhaps someday we'll go.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would love to come and visit you one day and Nogata Toyoko has now been added to my must visit bucket list. I envy you for having a food market where everything is a dollar!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I've never regretted my inability to fly so much as now that I've wandered through Nogata in Tokyo. I would so love to visit the shops and eat in the restaurants. Then, if I wanted the neon, traffic and busyness of the big city, it would be within reach, and I could still take refuge in Nogata later. I love that you share your world with us.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Truly loved seeing your neighborhood. I'm going to come calling for a slice of that cheesecake. :-)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      We have a Japanese friend (in Osaka) who asks us to visit, but so far, it hasn't worked out. Your lens made it sound even more interesting.