In 1914, Nakayama composed the song "Katyusha's song" for a dramatization of Tolstoy's Resurrection. The song, sung by actress Sumako Matsui, was a massive hit and Nakayama became famous almost overnight. Today this song is considered one of the earliest examples of modern Japanese popular music.
Another of his most famous songs is "Tokyo ondo", which was a great countrywide hit in the 1930s. Today it is also known as the theme song of the baseball team Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
His most famous children's songs are "Shabondama", "Teru teru bozu", "Amefuri", "Ano machi kono machi" and "Sekurabe", among others.