Let's face it: connecting Shinjuku with Saitama's Kawagoe, the Seibu Shinjuku line and its yellow carriages simply don't have the name recognition of the Chuo line, Tokyo's other main westbound railway. Compared to the Chuo's Koenji and Nakano, known as some of the city's trendiest 'hoods, stations like Nogata, Numabukuro and Araiyakushi-mae along the Seibu are quiet and unremarkable, rarely attracting neither positive nor negative attention. Still, that state of affairs has allowed these spots to develop a quirky culture all of their own, something like a suburban version of that found on the picturesque streets of Yanesen.
'Aranumano' (for Araiyakushi, Numabukuro and Nogata, and yes we made it up) is where you can soak at an age-old public bath after trying your hand at ping-pong with the locals, exploring the backstreets of run-down shopping arcades or visiting a philosophically inspired park, before descending into a world of old-school izakayas, ethnic eateries and box-sized cafés. Our three-part area guide series shows you where to eat, shop, stroll and drink in Aranumano: first up is Nogata, the westernmost of the three stations and a worthy stop for gourmands on a budget.