I hate to be a disappointer but this one is exactly what it seems.
It’s the middle field.
The area that is now called 中野 Nakano (the middle fields) was named such intentionally, because it was, literally, the middle of the 武蔵国 Musashi no Kuni Musashi Province. Having lived in Nakano for 6 years, I had hoped there would be an interesting story. Unfortunately, it’s just a generic name.
The area I lived in was called 新中野 Shin-Nakano (New Nakano) which isn’t any more creative than [old] Nakano.
There is 中野坂上 Nakano Sakaue (Nakano Hill Top) which is… you guessed it! on the top of a hill.
There’s 中野坂下 Nakano Sakashita (Nakano Bottom of the Hill).
There’s 中野新橋 Nakano Shinbashi (Nakano New Bridge) which has a nice little bridge going over the Kanda River.
There’s also 中野富士見町 Nakano Fujimi-chō, which is a little more interesting. There are many place names with 富士見 Fujimi. Fujimi just means “seeing/watching Mt. Fuji” and refers to areas that had a nice view of the famous volcano. So 中野富士見町 just means “Nakano-Where-You-Could-See-Mt.-Fuji-Neighborhood.” These days, you can’t really see it, though I suspect if you live in a tall enough building, you might be able to on a clear day.
Nakano, according to the people there, is the original home of Japanese otaku culture. They tend to view Akihabara as a place for young otaku or just poseurs in general and Nakano as the mature otaku area. There are many maid bars (not cafes, bars) scattered around the ward, but most are concentrated in the Nakano shopping area near Nakano Station and Nakano Broadway. It’s a pretty cool area, in my opinion, and it’s more underground than Akihabara — which is just sort of an annoying place TBH.
The people who live and love the Nakano life jokingly refer to themselves as 中野リアン Nakanorians.
Oh… how could I forget?
My old neighborhood, Shin-Nakano, is home to Soft on Demand (lovingly referred to as SOD) which is one of Japan’s largest AV (pornography) companies. Locations around Nakano pop up in movies frequently and you can often see actresses and coming and going between the station and office or just dining and shopping around the area. Awwwwwwwwww yeah.