On the 2nd floor of the station is a small museum detailing its history – worth a quick look after your coffee break. From Blue Bottle Coffee head north on the west side of the station, then head inside for the elevator to the 2nd floor.
The east side of the station from mAACh eCute‘s official brochure. Pass this to the left shown here, then head right.
“The Toranomon Incident (虎ノ門事件 Toranomon Jiken?) was an assassination attempt on the Prince Regent Hirohito of Japan on 27 December 1923 by communist agitator Daisuke Namba”.
Toranomon Hills is the tallest building in Tokyo. That title is expected to be surpassed in 2022 when a new, taller complex in Toranomon is built. The complex is spectacular + includes an office tower, shops, and lots of restaurants. Behind the tower is a medical facility + an open space green park.
Tamiya Playmodel Factory (pronounced ‘Tom-eee-ya‘, not ‘Ta-my-ya‘ is a nice small shop by Japanese plastic model maker Tamiya. There are lots of high quality models + supplies here, and some built dioramas of WW2 military scenes using the models. It’s right on the corner of the main street running north-south through Toranomon – Rt. 405.
If you head just south on 405 from Toranomon you will come into Shimbashi and just beyond that, Shiodome. Toranomon is within walking distance of both.
If you go the other direction – north – and make a few winding turns to the northwest you will come to one of Tokyo’s premiere areas – Akasaka. Akasaka is the area just to the west of Japan’s central government. In fact, you can see the Prime Minister’s office from there. The nearest Metro subway station to Akasaka is Akasaka-Mitsuke Sta. on the Ginza or Marunouchi Lines. There are several station exits – on Rt. 405 itself across from Bic Camera, one in the basement of Bic Camera in the .BelleVie shopping complex, and one just behind the government buildings. It’s a bit of a hike to Akasaka from Toranomon, but doable. There is also a newer Toranomon Hills Station (H06) as well – on the Hibiya Line. You can also change lines @ Toranomon Hills Sta. for the Ginza Line to Ginza, Ueno, and many other stops.
As a footnote just across from Tameike-Sanno Station are two excellent hotels: APA Pride and The Capitol Hotel Tokyu. APA Pride is incredibly grand + it’s reasonable – off season around $70/night. But beware since it’s just behind the gov’t buildings, the gov’t will often take over the entire hotel for visiting international groups and cancel all guest reservations with only short notice. Still, it is an excellent place to stay. The Capitol Hotel Tokyu is right next to APA Pride but it is orders of magnitude more upscale. It will cost you around $400/night but it’s incredibly deluxe. Both hotels make access to the main part of Akasaka easy.
TheAkasaka view from the far end of the street shown in the previous photo looks like this – facing back north. Sanno Park Tower is just on the corner on the left. The small round circular area is an elevator entrance to subterranean shops + another station exit. The small brown bldg. just up the side street in the center is APA Pride hotel and The Capitol Hotel Tokyu just to the left of it. There is another station entrance across the street to the left out of frame in this photo. Bic Camera is out of frame up the main street to the left, also out of frame. A really interesting area in Akasaka is a small street behind the Bic Camera – it’s full of all sorts of restaurants, shops, and hotels. If you are on bike, you can ride all the way south from here, into Toranomon, and further south into Shimbashi/Shiodome.
Looking back south from Akasaka. Toranomon Hills is the tall tower in the distance.
A spectaular sunset in fall cruising down Rt. 405 south on bike from Akasaka heading towards Toranomon. To the west (ahead) is Tokyo Tower just out of frame to the right. Japan is far enough north that in late fall the sun goes down around 3:30 PM.
Inside the very swank Capitol Hotel Tokyu. A top 5-star hotel, but it will cost you.Oddly, there is even an upscale 7-11 in this hotel’s basement.
Just pop in + hang a right down the stairs to the basement – Metro signs are overhead on the right where the small colored circles are for each line. If instead you go straight ahead you’ll pop out on a charming little backstreet lined with all kinds of restaurants, shops, cafés, pastry shops, wine bars, noodle shops, izakaya, chocolatiers – you name it. Further down the street to the left is Akasaka SACAS + Tokyo Broadcasting System‘s HQ. The entrance to this street is roughly at 35°40’37.47″ N 139°44’11.90″ E.
The charming little side street behind (west) of Bic Camera. Also shown below:
A spectacular day in Akasaka – the Akasaka SACAS/TBS complex is straight ahead.Toranomon is to the left (south).
Akasaka overall map – Sanno Park Tower, center, APA Pride Hotel/Prime Minister’s Office on the right, center, Bic Camera just out of view at the upper left corner.As a fun footnote the elevators up to the top-floor NTT DoCoMo HQ have to be seen to be believed – mostly glass, they shoot you up through the tower at incredible speed as the ground + building appear to drop out from under you. You can’t go in the offices, but you can go in their lobby + look around.Toranomon is to the right down the main street (southeast).
Looking south on Rt. 405 in Toranomon towards Shimbashi. Shiodome is the tall bldg. in the distance.
Tokyo Tower is visible from Toranomon, and is well within walking distance just to the northwest.
UCC Coffee AcademyTokyo
Just down the street to the southwest is UCC Coffee AcademyTokyo where you can take coffee classes (in Japanese only, however). Also right next door is giant Family Martconbini where you can grab a quick cheap breakfast.
Also on this street is the HQ for Iwatani Corporation – makers of small tabletop gas stoves + other appliances.
Oki Printers HQ
Just to the west a few blocks is the world headquarters of Japanese printer maker Oki. Oki makes office printers, but in the 1980’s they were famous for a full-color ribbon-ink printer for Atari and Commodore personal computers called the Okimate 10 (which you can still find today on eBay in working condition).
If you’re looking for a capsule hotel in Toranomon, look no further than First Cabin Atagoyama – a top-notch capsule hotel just to the southwest of Toranomon Hills. Prices in off-season run around $45-$55 and it’s quite nice. The hotel is located just to the west of the Tamiya Playmodel Factory a few blocks – on a side street.
Tucked down a little hidden side-street, 2 blocks from Tokyo’s JR Ikebukuro Station is one of the city’s best cafés: Coffee Valley Ikebukuro. This place is a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Coffee Valley offers gourmet coffees of all kinds, and small snacks such as pastries. It has an exceptional interior with rustic wood + nice lighting. Staff is very friendly. There is seating on the second floor with large windows with lots of light.
The quality of everything here is superb. This is one Tokyo café that is not to be missed. It’s well worth a trip to Ikebukuro just for the café alone, but if you’re in the area sightseeing anyway, you’ll definitely want to stop in.
After exiting, turn right onto the sidewalk (south):
JR Ikebukuro Station east exit. Head south as you exit (to your right as you face the exit from the inside, or straight ahead down the sidewalk in this photo).
Proceed 1.8 miles south. You’ll pass the large SEIBU + PARCOdepato (department stores) as you go. As of this writing at the 1.8 mile point, you will see a large Starbuck’s in front of you on the corner across the street. Turn left (east) at this light (you’ll see a Komedia’s Coffee on the 2nd floor in the bldg. in front of you). Cross at the light. On the ground floor of this bldg. there will be a Yahoo! and a SoftBank. At this corner there will be a tinynarrow side street on your left. Head down it:
Look for the tiny side street next to the SoftBank/Yahoo! bldg.
Go a block and the street will curve around to the right. Keep going and cross the next street also. You will see a Caffé Veloce on the corner on the right, and a Yoshinoya on the corner on the left. Enter the next small street straight ahead and Coffee Valley will be just inside on your left. Can’t miss it.
Abandon all other coffee places, ye who enter here.Coffee Valley is just down the alley ahead on the left.
JR Ikebukuro Station is shown on the left. The JR Ikebukuro Station east exit is just to the left of the small square in the upper center of the map shown above. The main street runs roughly north-south. Coffee Valley is shown at the placemarks in the lower right corner.
Main street in east Ikebukuro. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left. You’ll exit here, and head down the street on your left (towards the camera in this photo).
From the south tip of Ueno Park, head south on the west sidewalk and head down a side alley on the right to get onto the sidewalk sourrounding Shinobazu Pond.
Head left (south) around the pond.
As the sidewalk turns around to the south, look for the entrance on the left. There’s a street light on your left. The entrance to the side street is shown on Google Earth below. The top in this case is south:
Turn left out of the pond area, and cross the street. The entrance to the hidden street is straight ahead, and is shown here on the right (you’ll be entering from the left side of the frame). The pond area entrance is shown directly on the left in this photo – just cross the street straight ahead of the pond exit when you come out.
Especially at night, this street is interesting:
If you go 2 blocks south on this street, you’ll end up on the 2nd busiest street on the east side of Ueno Station. There is also a big Don Quijote discount store on that street shown here:
This Don Quijote also has cheap food: $1.78 1 liter mixed vegetable drinks, and $1.78 1 liter UCC Coffee. And some cheap snacks. Can’t go wrong.
As a footnote, if you turn to the right when you come out of the pond area instead of going straight @ the light, you’ll find a lot of good hotels on the south side of the street as you head east – including a women’s-only hostel – the Centurion Ladies’ Hostel, shown here:
As an interesting historical footnote, Shinobazu Pond was a strategic security point during the Tokugawa Shogunate, and a temple was built there to serve as a north guardpost to help defend the Imperial Palace. The site was also of historical significance in the Boshin War in the mid-1800’s.
Exit JR Ikebukuro Station @ the South Exit and immediately turn right (north). Esola is just on your right. The south exit is near the LUMINEdepato (formerly Metropolitan Plaza). The TOBUdepato is just behind Esola.
If you come out of the mainIkebukuro West Gate Park exit on the west side of the station, just head down the street ahead on the left, and Esola will be down on your left a few blocks (street entrance is shown at 00:52 in the 2nd video below, and Esola itself is at 3:02 – right across from the newly constructed Global Ring park).
The entomology of the name Esola isn’t clear – the only info available is that it is derived from early Germanic + is a woman’s name meaning patiently quiet. It’s not clear if the mall’s name was taken from the #1 smash hit song Esora (エソラ) by Japanese band Mr.Children, but it’s highly likely since that song was released in 2008 on Mr.Children‘s spectacular album Supermarket Fantasy(which we highly recommend BTW) before the present Esola complex was built.
Head left down this street from the West Gate Park exit. Global Ring is on the right, Esola is down on the left.