Seeing as I no longer live there, I feel like I can comfortably write a little about where I was living during my two years in Japan, and that’s… Nakano City! But not the Nakano City of Tokyo.
No, this Nakano City is much more rural.
Coming in at around 43,000 people, Nakano City (going to just call it Nakano from here on out which is more natural to me) isn’t very big in terms of population. Despite this, it’s still quite large in terms of space, as it’s a very flat city. There are many fields and orchards in the area too, which also spreads things out. And because of this, it feels larger than it is.
There’s a small AEON Mall, many great small restaurants, a few chain restaurants, Ippongi Park which is famous for it’s rose garden, several grocery stores, shops, etc. I guess like any town. The AEON Mall is the biggest attraction for locals, and has the most “city” feel to it when you go inside. Many of my students would complain about how there’s nothing to do in Nakano. Personally, I feel like it’s a city that has everything you need – but doesn’t offer too much more than that (except pachinko parlors, because there are 5 of those).
As it’s located in the north of Nagano Prefecture, you can visit several onsen towns (Nozawa Onsen, Yamanouchi) without much travel. These are towns that many people from further away like Tokyo have to travel far to visit, and famous for hot springs and ski resorts. It’s also not far at all from Nagano City itself, which has much more to offer.
But you definitely need a car because of distances, and because it’ll run you 2000 yen to take the train from Nakano to Nagano and back. Which is probably one of the most expensive train lines in Japan when you consider the distance.
Anyways, it was a great city for me to live in and experience Japanese culture. Here’s a nice picture overlooking the city that I took last winter:
Nakano City’s V-Tuber: Shinshu Nakano-chan!
One funny thing that Nakano City did shortly after I moved there was come out with a V-Tuber called “Shinshu Nakano-chan” (信州なかのちゃん). Shinshu is another name for the geographical area of Nagano Prefecture that is used often by many businesses and so on. In this case, it’s likely tacked onto the name in order to distinguish from Tokyo’s Nakano. That, and it sounds better than something like “Nagano Nakano-chan” which certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue.
Anyways, here’s her introduction video:
As you can see, she’s very cute.
Considering it’s marketing in order to try and create interest in the city, the whole V-Tuber project is pretty well done. The voice actress for 信州なかのちゃん does a great job.
She basically talks about some of the famous locations in the city, things it’s known for (like apples – there are a ton of orchards), and other features of the city.
Such as the city hall, which I’d visited many times in my time there thanks to Japanese bureaucracy:
At around 25 seconds into that video, you can see the cardboard cutout they have of 信州なかのちゃん in the lobby, which I also took a picture of:
It’s actually kind of nostalgic to watch that one, and the pictures of the city. It’s only been two months, but knowing that I’m no longer there feels weird. I used to see those mountains everyday. Now all of that is on the other side of the world, so far away. Mt. Kosha in particular, which is shown in that video, was something I saw all the time because one of the schools I taught at had a great view of it and I could see it from my desk in the teacher’s office.
I don’t want to ramble for too long here about Nakano City.
But I did want to write about it, because it’s the place I called home for two years.
And I thought it was cool that there’s a bit of an anime connection with the city’s V-Tuber, Shinshu Nakano-chan.
Hopefully you found this mildly interesting as well!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.