Tokyo International Forum

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Name: Tokyo International Forum

Kind: Venue

Where: Yurakucho, Tokyo 35°40’35.92″ N 139°45’51.03″ E

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Just south of Tokyo Station and just west of Ginza is the Tokyo International Forum – a huge modern venue for all kinds of conferences, performing arts, concerts, talks, trade shows, and other activities.

The Forum was completed in 1997 and is spectacular.

Inside there are elevated walkways, a huge cavernous interior and a few restaurants on the lower level. The Forum’s main tourist attraction is its architecture which is designed to look like a large ship and is ultra-modern.

Outside the Forum are all sorts of great restaurants, shops, and other activities. At the South end of the Forum is a large Bic Camera, and Yurakucho Station – the gateway into Ginza which is just to the east.

To get to the Forum you can either get the JR line to Tokyo Station, exit the west (Maronuchi) side and walk south on the sidewalk, or you can get off at Yurakucho Station and then head north under the train tracks, then west and 1 block north to the Forum. Both are very easy to get to and are accessibile.

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You can also take the Metro Ginza Subway Line to Ginza Station and exit there, then walk a few blocks south to get to the Forum. The Ginza Station exit is just outside the north Maronuchi-side exit at Tokyo Station, roughly at 35°40’55.82″ N 139°45’57.01″ E. You can also get to the Ginza Line inside Tokyo Station but it requires a long hike through various underground corridors and stairs like this:

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Ginza Metro subway line. Ginza (G09) is in the middle of the line, Shibuya on the west, and Asakusa on the east. Another alternative is to take the Maronuchi Line and exit at its Tokyo Station (M17) exit onto the surface and then walk south from Tokyo Station to the Forum:

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Maronuchi Line Tokyo Station (M17)

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Yurakucho Station. Tokyo International Forum is straight ahead past the tracks. Bic Camera is on the left next to the Forum.

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The Forum has a huge lighted glass floor on its north side.

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Inside the cavernous Forum.

Restaurants/Coffee/Shops

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In the basement of the Forum is the Cafe Lexcel, an upscale division of Doutour. There is also one in Yokohama.

On the west side of the Forum there is an outdoor patio with a line of excellent restaurants, coffee houses, and shops. Definitely worth checking out.

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There is also a Shake Shack and an 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen on the patio promenade.

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Brooklyn Roasting Company is not to be missed.

At the very north end of the promenade there is a JR entrance and downstairs is a New York Perfect Cheese:

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The JR entrance at the north end. Behind it is a Le Meré Poulard – a very upscale French restaurant. The original one is in France and also has a hotel in it.



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©2019 tenmintokyo.com

There is plenty more to do in the area – don’t be afraid to wander around.

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Yurakucho Station Christmas illuminations.

Bic Camera + Ginza to the East

If you walk south from the Forum + cross the street, first you’ll come to a large Bic Camera on the corner – well worth a stop:


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South end of Bic Camera. Yurakucho Station is on the right.

If you then head east (left) at Yurakucho Station, you’ll come into a small area at the east exit of the station filled with department stores, such as OIOI (pronounced Marui). This is Yurakucho. To get to Ginza, head directly east for 2 blocks. The two areas are right next to each other.

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Underneath Yurakucho Station. Ginza is straight ahead (facing east).

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Yurakucho Station. Ginza is on the other side. The Forum is 2-3 blocks to the left (north). Under the 2 arches on the left you can cut to the other side. The area on the other side is one of the best trainspotting places in Tokyo – you can watch bullet trains come in and out in both directions.

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Ginza east of Yurakucho Station.

Well that’s it for now. Enjoy your trip. There’s loads to do near Tokyo International Forum + the surrounding area.

LINKS

Tokyo International Forum Official

Tokyo International Forum: Marunouchi – Where In Tokyo

JR East

Cafe Lexel

800 Degrees

Ginza-Itchome StationYurakucho Line

Yurakucho Line

VIDS

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Keio Department Store, Shinjuku, TOKYO

Name: Keio Department Store

Kind: Depato

Location: 35°41’23.41″ N 139°41’57.25″ E

Just to the southwest of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo is the Keio Department Store, or as they would say in Japan Keio Depato.

This is one of the best depatos in Tokyo – in particular for its spectacular food + gift basement (Deepikcha). The gifts sold here are extremely high quality, and affordable.

There are a myriad of other stores in the building, as well as a restaurant floor, and open-air court on the top. There is also access to Shinjuku Station directly at the entrance.

To get here, take a JR line or subway to Shinjuku Station, or walk or bike. Get to the southwest side of the station, and pop in under the first blue awning shown below under the red sign.

The area is shown clearly in YouTuber Walk In Japan‘s video:

That video also shows how to walk to a small town called Nakano just to the west.

Also of interest just to the west 2 blocks is the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, which is well worth a look, and just beyond that to the west is The Toyko Metro Gov’t Bldg., which has one of the best free observatories in Japan.

Also just to the north of Keio is the Odakyu Depato. and Bic Camera – and a host of other interesting shops including 2 nice pancake shops on the top floor or Odakyu. Well worth a look.

The Keio food basement has lots of delectable delights, such as these pie-sized cookies.

Odakyu Depato is the orange bldg., center as seen from Shinjuku Station platform. The Morri Cocoon Bldg. is just to the left.

Walkway between ODAKYU HALC and Keio. Facing north. Bic Camera is on the right. One of the best photo spots in Tokyo is straight ahead on this walkway, in front of the green sign on the right.

Mode Gakuen “Cocoon” Bldg. 2 blocks to the northwest of Keio.

LINKS

https://www.keionet.com/info/shinjuku/foreign/en/

http://keionet.jp/cont113_034_001.php

http://japanshopping.org/ja

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=HAL+Tokyo&t=ffab&ia=web

https://www.hal.ac.jp/tokyo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_Gakuen_Cocoon_Tower

Akihabara Superguide

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Name: Akihabara

Kind: Town

Location: 35°41’53.63″ N 139°46’28.29″ E

Updated on 6/22/2020

Akihabara (or simply Akiba as it is known by locals), aside from being one of Tokyo’s biggest electronics areas, is also a great place to explore and walk around. There’s tons to do here.

Since we’ve lived there many times, and have deep knowledge of the area and its attractions, we’ve put togther this superguide to help you get around.

First, the layout + streets, then shopping, electronics, attractions, and lodging.

On Sundays, from noon – 4PM, the streets in Akihabara are closed to vehicles, making it a walker’s paradise.

How to Visit Akihabara

The best way is to get a cheap hostel or hotel in the area, stay a few days and walk around. It’s not a large town and is relatively compact so it is easy to cover in just a few days. Hit the main streets and areas first, explore the staion, then explore some backstreets and side areas. You can also walk from Akihabara to Kanda, Nihonbashi, and Tokyo Station to the south in just a few miles.

To get to Akihabara by train, take the JR Yamanote Line north from Tokyo Station or South from Ueno Station to Akihabara Station (there are 3 main exits, described below). You can also take the Keihin Tohoku line if you are coming from the north. The Ginza Metro Subway line also stops at Kanda Station just to the south so you can easily walk from Kanda north to Akihabara in just a few minutes. Get off at the G13 Station on the Ginza Metro Line, and head north. Suehirocho Station (G14) on the Ginza Line will also drop you into Akihabara – at the northwest corner of the town near the Tam-Tam Hobby Shop (see below).

How Big is Akihabara?

As mentioned below it’s a fairy small town – you can easily walk the main station area in a day or two (see below).

How Expensive is Akihabara?

Akihabara is actally not that expensive. There are some very good hostels and hotels such as And Hostel and APA Hotel. Depending on the season, daily prices can range anywhere from $24 for hostels to $70-$80 for a hotel. There are many other similar hotels in the area ranging anywhere from $60-$160 per night. So you can visit Akihabara quite inexpensively.

How Far is Akihabara From Narita Airport?

As the crow flies about 32 miles. Once from the airport to Tokyo Station on the N’EX or Keisei Skyliner, Akihabara is just a few miles north – 2 train stops. So only a few minutes.

How Far is Akihabara From Tokyo?

As mentioned it’s actually part of Tokyo – it’s in the northeast corner of the central part of the city and is considered a main area. It’s just a few stops north of Tokyo Station.

How to Explore Akihabara

See our section below. Once at Akihabara station there are 4 main areas: the long street to the east which runs north to south, and is more reserved with traditional shops, the electronic town area on Chuo-Dori to the east which also runs north to south, the area to the south of the station which includes Akihabara Park and other small shops and restaurants, and the area north of the station which includes the Gundam Cafe, the UDX bldd. area, the Excelsior Cafe and Bic Camera bldg. The station is shaped like a “+” sign so there are 4 major corners or areas to explore. There is also Manseibashi Bridge and eCute mall inside to the south of the electronics area. There are also side streets with various small shops to the far east of the station. These areas are described in detail below.

Akihabara Station

JR Akihabara Station is fairly well laid out in the shape of a “+” sign. As far as Japanese train stations go, it’s easy to navigate. There are only 3 main exits: the Showa-Dori exit @ the east which drops you outside Yodobashii camera on the east side, the Central Exit which drops you into a small square near the Gundam Cafe and office buildings such as UDX to the west side, and the Electric Town Exit which dumps you out into an alley to the southwest of the station filled with various electronics stores and restuarants. There is one more small exit in the Uniqlo building on the southeast corner of the station. The upscale Washington Hotel is just east of this exit across the street. Yodobashii Akiba is just a block north of this exit also. Note that the Electric Town exit is a bit misnamed – you might expect it would drop you near Yodobashii or Bic Camera, or onto Chuo Dori but it doesn’t – it drops you to the south of the station in a back alley. For Chuo Dori use the central exit, then head a block or two west.

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When you exit the platform, you’ll come down the stairs on the right. Follow the yellow signs to any of the 3 major exits.

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The Showa Dori Exit to the east of the station. Go west (back) through this exit, and head right inside to get to the food shop passage which leads to the Central Exit near Yodobashii.

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Head back throught the exit shown above, then veer right slightly to get to the food passage. There are also more restaurants in the atré complex on the way. Just to the left of this photo there is a small bank of 300¥ coin lockers, but they are almost always full.

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The food passage between the Showa Dori and Central exits.

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Entrance to food passage just outside west exit of Yodobashii Camera.

Akihabara Station. Up is north. The large building on the right with the green roof is Yodobashii Akiba. Just left of that is the Central Exit. At the lower left (southwest) corner of the station is the Electric Town exit. On the north side of that where the large ramp is is the UDX building and post office. Chuo Dori is on the left of the image. 2 stops north on the Yamanote Line is Ueno.

Central Exit. Facing south. atré department store complex is on the left. Excelsior Cafe is just to the right behind the stairs.

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Facing north from the Central Exit. UDX buidling is on the left. Post office is on the left side of this building on the ground floor. There is also a small paid bicycle parking area to the right behind the stairs to the pedestrian overpass. Excelsior Cafe is just to the left side behind the bus. If you walk down through the street where the green overpass is on the right side, you’ll come out at Yodobashii Camera, and beyond that, Showa Dori to the east. If you turn left at the UDX building 1 block, you’ll find Bic Camera, and Chuo Dori where all the big stores are. Gundam Cafe and Square Enix Cafe are just to the right out of frame. The French Toast Factory is also here, near the Gundam Cafe.

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Bic Camera, just to the west of the UDX building shown above. Chuo Dori is just to the left (west) of this image. This photo was taken from the approximate vantage point of the Excelsior Cafe just outside the Central Exit. Note that in Japan in the fall + winter it gets dark early – this photo was taken around 2PM in the afternoon in Nov.

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Just to the right (east) of Bic Camera is the UDX bldg. shown here, and just south of that where this photo was taken, is the Excelsior Cafe which is quite large and nice with indoor + outdoor seating. Also on this side of the courtyard, just to the left (west) is the Moco Cafe, and a secret bank of 200¥ coin lockers, which are almost never occupied. We’ll discuss both later below.

Around the station there are 2 main streets: Chuo Dori, which is the main electronics shopping street to the west of the station, and Showa-Dori immediately to the east of the station. Showa-Dori is a main traffic road which runs all the way to Ueno 2 miles to the north, and all the way to Tokyo Station several miles to the south. Both roads run north to south and parallel to each other. In fact, you can easily walk north to Ueno in a few minutes on Showa-Dori. Side streets running east-west connect the two north-south streets, so it’s easy to cut over to either quickly.

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Showa Dori facing north. Note the Metro tracks overhead.

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Showa Dori facing NE.

It’s fairly easy to navigate around the station by walking the East-West streets between Chuo Dori and Showa Dori. There is also a street-level passage between the Showa Dori JR exit and the Central JR exit through the station. This passage is lined with small food shops such as a Marion Crepes and Jack in the Donuts, among others. At the Central Exit side you have the entrance to Yodobashii Akiba electronics store. The entire area around the station of interest is only about 4-5 square blocks, although you can venture much further than that on foot, if you like.

At the south end of Chuo Dori, past the shopping area, and over a bridge across from the huge Big Apple pachinko parlor is the Old Manseibashi Station area and mAAch eCute shopping area, which we’ll talk about below.

Trains

There are 3 main lines in the station: the Yamanote Line, which rings central Tokyo, the Keihin-Tohoku Line which runs to the north out of Tokyo, and the Chuo-Sobu Line which runs east-west. For most stops on the east side of the city you’ll use the Yamanote line. Ueno is 2 stops to the north, Kanda, Nihonbashi, Tokyo Station, and Yurakucho Station (Ginza) a few stops to the south, in that order.

As a footnote you can take the Kehin-Tohoku Line all the way north to Akabane where it changes for the Saikyo Line which can then take you south to Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. Or you can stay on the Keihin-Tohoku Line all the way north to Omiya.

A note about station signage in Japan: “Exit” means a physical exit from a station, and “Gate” means a payment gate where you use a ticket or electronic IC card to exit the station. When you buy a paper ticket you pay in advance and use the ticket to exit the gate at the destination station. When you use an IC card, you swipe the card when you enter a station gate for departure, but the funds are actually deducted when you swipe it again at the destination station’s gate. All but the smallest Japan stations have more than one exit. Usually gates and exits are synonymous, but not always. Some stations can be confusing because to get to one line you have to pass entirely through another line’s area in the same station (such as at Tamieke-Sanno station). Some of the huge stations have miles of underground tunnels and dozens of exits to take you to different parts of the local area. Some stations (many in fact, in Tokyo) combine several different systems such as JR, Metro Subway, and Toei Subway lines. You’ll see the small box-shaped entrances to these on the streets in many places besides the main station entrances.

When you get off the train, immediately look for the large yellow panels on a wall or signs mentioned above which list what is at each exit. Usually the exits are numbered. There will be additional smaller yeallow signs throughout most stations pointing the direction to most exits, but still – it’s easy to get lost or turned around if you’re not al ready familiar with a given station.

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Yamanote line (green), left, and Keihin-Tohoku line (blue), right. Entrance to the Chuo-Sobu line (yellow) is downstairs near the Electric Town Exit and has an escalator up to the platform.

Electric Town exit.

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Heading east from Electric Town Exit. Showa Dori is straight ahead. There’s a NewDays conbini (convenience store) on the left, and the next shop up is a great Becker’s hamburger place combined with a Pronto Cafe. There is also a SofMap store just at the end of the street. If you turn north coming out of the Electric Town exit instead of east as shown here, there is also a small Yamada Denki LABI which is great.

Hobbies

Aside from electronics, and anime, there are a lot of great hobby shops in the area. If you’re looking for models or trains, by far the 2 best shops in Akihabara are Yodobashii Camera and TamTam (35°42’11.08″ N 139°46’17.71″ E) at the north end of Chuo Dori. (As a footnote, the huge Don Quijote and SofMap are just 2 blocks south of TamTam on opposite sides of the street).

The model floor in Yodobashii is incredible. They have the largest selection of high-quality Tamiya models we’ve ever seen anywhere in Japan.

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Tamiya model selection in Yodobashii Akiba.

On the north end of Chuo Dori on the west side of the street, just north of the Don Quijote is the TamTam hobby shop. The 4th + 5th floors have all kinds of plastic models and trains, including a good selection of Tamiya models also. Suehirocho Station (G14) on the Metro is just across the street to the south.

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TamTam on the northwest side of Chuo Dori.

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Inside TamTam.

This video shows inside TamTam and the unbelievable selection of models:

As a footnote, less than half a block south of TamTam there is a nice MOS Burger.

Akihabara Park

Just to the south of Yodobashii is Akihabara Park. It’s a small concrete park with stores and shops on both sides. It also has free WiFi. There’s a really good Key’s Cafe here, and across the park from that is a great little surplus electornics store which has nice little USB battery banks for $10.

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Akihabara Park south of Yodobashii. Key’s Cafe is in the brown building on the right. There is also a small bike locker here. Just to the right out of frame is Showa Dori.

Cafes

Aside from the usual maid cafes, there are several intereting ones to visit. There’s Key’s Cafe mentioned above, a Café Veloce out on Showa Dori Avenue, which is sort of a throwback to the 1950’s, there’s Café Moco (shown below), which is smaller and privately owned + is just south of the Bic Camera mentioned above, there’s also SAO Cafe (link below), Gundam Café, Square Enix Café, and others. There is a Tully’s Coffee in the UDX bldg – and Tully’s usually has free WiFi and free power plugs if you need a charge. There’s also a great trainspotting porch behind Tully’s up a small staricase to the left:

There is also a Beck’s Coffee near the Central Exit.

There are also a few other cafés on the food floors at the top of Yodobashii Camera.

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Café Moco is just to the west of the Excelsior Café. Just to the left (south) of this photo is a secret bank of coin lockers costing only 200¥-400¥. They are keyed, so you have to not lose the key, but are good and cheap nonetheless.

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Gundam Café, just across from Café Moco. The now defunct AKB48 Café is the brick bldg. just to the right. Yodobashii Camera is behind the tracks overhead. JR Central Exit to Akihabara Station is to the right (south), out of frame.

Gundam Café and Square Enix Café are right next to each other on the east side of the square by the Central JR Exit. There was an AKB48 Café here also, but it closed in Nov. 2019, just around the initial time of this writing. The Excelsior Café mentioned above is quite good + has lots of seating. Excelsior, Café Moco, Gundam, and Square Enix are all within a block of each other in the same courtyard. The maid cafés tend to be more out on Chuo Dori Ave, and side streets near the Electric Town exit.

Velocé cafés tend to be very good, and have lots of cheap food + drinks such as 290¥ coffee (cohee in Japanese), and 350¥ hot dogs. Velocé is a chain all around Japan, and is similar to Dotour shops, except that Velocé cafes seem to have more smokers, on average, for some reason, if that bothers you. Maybe it’s the 1950’s vibe. There is a Doutour in the area, but it’s a little further south via Showa Dori in Kanda, the next station to the south. Both chains are great, but on average we like the Dotour shops just a little bit more.

SAO cafe is a bit on the expensive side with 600¥ shakes + 1000¥ sundaes. Good nonetheless. Square Enix café has fantastic huge burgers in the 1000¥-1400¥ range which are worth it once in a while.

There are loads of cafés all over the area in fact, and we’ve just scratched the surface here.

Currency Exchange

There are many good currency exchange shops in Akiba. But the 2 best ones are on the east side of Showa Dori, just across from and south of the JR East Exit. If you come out of the east exit and cross at the light shown at the top of this article, you’ll see the Noodle Stand Kourakuen:

Or at night:

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If you turn right at this shop, on your left you’ll see a small alley with an Urgent Care sign next to it (a green cross). Just below that you’ll see a currency exchange:

This one is great. If you continue south on Showa Dori on the same side of the street, you’ll come across another one a few blocks down – it’s another little hole-in-the-wall shop, but is also very good. Both of these charge around 2%-4% as of this writing, depending on currency. Don’t exchange large amounts of currency at the airport – they charge outrageous fees.

©2019 Glob Design

Showa Dori, south of the 2nd currency exchange shop.

When Do Akihabara Stores Open and Close?

Store hours vary. Some large stores such as Yodobashi stay open very late, especially on weekends. Some close early on weekdays, and some open late on weekdays. Most store hours are from 8AM-10AM to 6PM-10PM. It’s rare for stores in Akihabara to stay open past midnight in most cases but some do. Many are open on Sunday – when the major streets are closed to motor vehicle traffic.

More Shopping

The biggest electronics parts store in the area is called Tokyo Radio Department Store. They have just about everything including raw network cable. There are other smaller electronics parts stores in the area – including the one mentioned above across from Key’s Coffee.

Don Quijote (Donki as locals call it) is a famous discount electronics chain all over Japan. These stores have just about everything, including, usually, a cheap food floor. There are actually some good deals on food. You can get a 1 liter healthy vegetable drink consisting of 26 vegetables, or a 1 liter bottle of UCC black coffee for around 78¥. They also have cheap snacks in various forms. They also have good prepacked meals for under 500¥. You can take them home, microwave them, and chow down. The Akihabara Don Quijote is on Chuo Dori, right across from the big SofMap tower store. Their food selection seems to be a bit less than other stores such as the Ginza one or Ikebukuro one, but is good nonetheless. Don Quijotes are a bit of a crazy mashup of electronics and supermarkets. They have just about everything. The stores are usualy cramped, with tiny aisles and products strewn everywhere. Quite amusing. Still worth a look, though. They even have cheap luggage. Don Quijote Akihabara is at 35°42’02.69″ N 139°46’18.23″ E.

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Don Quiojte on Chuo Dori.

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Cheap snacks around 128¥ @ Don Quijote.

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Don Quijote stores are crammed with merchandise.

Groceries

Hands down the cheapest and most healthy grovery store in the area is an Aeon supermarket 5 or 6 blocks north of the station on the east side of Showa Dori. It’s on a corner and is in a tan bldg. They have the above-mentioned vegetable drinks for under 100¥ and lots of fresh produce for salads. And a variety of other products, including liquor and beer. As you walk north on Showa Dori, you’ll discover all kinds of other shops such as clothes, bikes, furniture, household goods. The shops on this street are a little more upscale comapred to the rough-and-tumble shops in the central area. Also on this street is the YKK zipper company HQ – which is known the world over for high-quality zippers.

Aeon supermarket on Showa Dori in Akihabara.

Bicycles

Beleive it or not, there are a few shops in Akiba where you can buy name-brand high-end racing road bikes for up to 50% off retail. There are some incredible deals here, such as this $600 Bianchi road bike:

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Arcades + Video Games + Super Potato

Akiba abounds with arcades, game shops, and retro reuse stores. Chief among the retro game stores is Super Potato – a 3-floor extravaganza of old arcade machines, old consoles for sale, and old game titles. It’s a bit hidden and hard to find, but close to Chuo Dori. It’s located at 35°41’57.79″ N 139°46’17.17″ E, 1 block southwest from the main Bic Camera building, west of the UDX building.

There is no sign in English on the store’s entrance shown below:

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Either go up the stairs at the end, or take the small elevator to floors 3-5:

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Even Japanese pop stars Yuzu have visited Super Potato.

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Just down the street from that is another retro store which also has video games + models – Yellow Submarine.

There are plenty of other arcades in Akiba – mainly the 3 big SEGA ones, and the big Taito Game Station. The biggest SEGA arcade is on Chuo Dori – Sega Akihabara 4 gokan – is next to the SofMap tower, and the 2nd one is at the south end of Chuo Dori across from Mainseibashi Bridge.

Akiba Kart

Akiba Kart is a go-cart racing service where you can rent to ride go-carts around Tokyo. Keep in mind though, there is considerable traffic in Tokyo and the experience can be a bit hair-raising for the uninitiated.

Trading Cards

Akiba is a huge magnet for trading card collectors and there are lots of card stores in the area. Probably the biggest is Card World Akiba – it’s 1 block off Chuo Dori towards the south at the end of an alley shown here:

Manseibashi Station + mAAch eCute

Akiba’s hidden gem is Manseibashi Station – an abandoned train station turned mall. The station was built in 1912, was renovated in 1925, 1938, and 1946 – but was then abandoned when Tokyo Station was built to the south in 1914. It sat empty + unused from 1948-2006, when it was renovated and reopened as a shopping mall. Manseibashi was one of the first train stations built in Japan. The JR lines, however still run across the top of the station north to south. The east side features Manseibashi Bridge, and a picturesque river which runs parallel to the station. You can reach the station by walking south on Chuo Dori from the central area to Manseibashi Bridge.

Ueno (1910), Manseibashi (1912), and Tokyo Station (1914) were all built around the same time. When the station was renovated in 1938, Shimbashi Station south of Tokyo Station was also built, connecting the entire east side of the city. All but Manseibashi are still in use today for transit.

On the 2nd floor of the station, via a small elevator on the northwest side is a small museum with a diorama of the entire area as it looked in 1912. The larger original brick building (also shown on this site) which was to the west of the station, and had a remarkable resemblance to the Maruonuchi side of Tokyo station was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and was torn down. You can see what that part of the station looked like below. Definitely worth a look. Watch for the signs on the west outside wall of the station for the elevator, and both stairwells.

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Station diorama in the museum on the 2nd floor.

The original 1912 and 1938 stairwells are still open, the 2nd of which leads to the roof where there is a trainspotting garden, and a small restaurant. You can sit + sip wine and eat as you watch the JR lines whiz by next to you.

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Original 1912 stairwell.

Manseibashi Station (1912-1936) @ Old Tokyo

At the south end of the station is mAAch eCute – a chain of stores. Actually the stores run throughout the station but the eCute entrance is at the south end. Enter from Manseibashi bridge at the eCute sign, and walk in. The inside is a tunnel of stores with small concrete overhead arches on both sides. You can walk inside the entire length of the station and shop as you go.

The station is one of Akiba’s best-kept secrets and is well worth a stop to look around.

mAAch ecute: Akihabara’s Best-Kept, Non-otaku Secret

mAACH eCute Store Guide. The entrance is shown on the left.

Hotels, Hostels, + Lodging

There are some nice hotels and hostels in Akiba. The aforementioned Washington Hotel next to the Uniqlo near the station is very nice – altough a bit expensive. As for hostels, there is a First Cabin and a And Hostel just a few blocks from the Showa Dori exit. The First Cabin is just a few blocks north of the AndAnd Hostel.

There are 2 nice APA hotels in Akihabara, and one of them, APA Hotel Akihabara Ekimae, is literally 2 blocks right in front of the east exist to the JR station. Their rates are reasonable, at around $70/night or less depending on the time of year. The other APA is APA Hotel Akihabara-Eki Denkigaiguchi, (literally “Electric Street Exit”) and is around the same price, although it is a few blocks to the northwest of the station and is not quite as convenient as the one mentioned above. Note that APA Akihabara Ekimae, First Cabin Akihabara, and And Hostel (mentioned below) are all within a few blocks of each other. All are quite nice.

Also of note is the fact that about a mile or so even further to the northwest is another APA – APA Ochanomizu Ekikita. In fact, if you head west from TamTam hobby, right near Suehirocho Station, it’s less than 2 blocks. This APA has several advantages: 1) It’s really close to Akihabara, 2) it’s less than .6 miles south of Ueno, and the Skyliner Station to Narita Airport, 3) it’s also really close to the WATERRAS area just south of Ochanomizu, and from there, south into Otemachi, and the main area around Tokyo Station, 4) it’s also just a mile or so east of the Tokyo Dome/Korakuen Station area. All of this means if you stay at the APA in Ochanomizu, you can jump off to Akihabara, Nihonbashi, Otemachi, Tokyo Station, Tokyo Dome, Ueno, or Okachimachi all in less than 1 hours’ walk. This makes it a cheap + ideal location to stay at in the east side of Tokyo. And of course, once you’re on the JR Yamanote line from Akihabara, or Suehirocho Metro Station, you can get just about anywhere you want in central Tokyo fast.

First Cabin usually tends to be more upscale, and in our experince is very good – you get a deluxe tube, with a sliding door, a nice bed, outlets, A/C control, and a TV in each tube. It’s very clean + upscale. They also have a lounge where you can relax, watch TV, read, work, or just hang out. Our only real complaint against First Cabin is that the cabin area lacks real ventilation and if the hostel is crowded, it can get quite stuffy at night. It needs a window to open, which it lacks. Other than this, First Cabin is usually a good deal. They are relatively inexpensive considering what you get for the money. The one in Akiba is just north east of the station, so it’s very convenient.

And Hostel is just a few blocks south, and also just a few blocks east of the station. Remember the side alley where the money exchnage mentioned above was? If you go 1 block south of that and turn left, you’ll be on a small side street. Head east a few blocks on this street and keep a lookout to the right for And Hostel. It’s just a few blocks to the right. When you see it, hang a right and head over.

There is also a very nice And Hostel in Asakusa as well.

Keep a lookout to the right for the hostel down a side street. Shown here at the end.

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Inside the single tube room at And Hostel.

A newly-opened luxury hostel called GLANSIT is on the east side of Chuo Dori. Around $72 bucks a night.

There are also quite a good number of great bars and restaurants in the area on the side streets.

If you’re tired and in need of a rest, go east from And Hostel until you hit a dead end, turn north (left) for 2 blocks, then left again, back towards the station and you’ll come upon Izumi Park. This is a popular park for families with kids, but there are several benches here as well and you can just sit and hang out for a while if you like.

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Izumi Park

Secret Cheap Coin Lockers

Just to the left (south) of Café Moco mentioned above is a small bank of secret cheap coin lockers (also mentioned above). These range from 200¥ to 400¥ for 12 hours and are quite good, although the are keyed and don’t yet support IC cards. There is another tiny inexpensive bank just inside the Showa Dori exit, but there aren’t many there, and they are almost always full. These lockers are designed for you to drop your stuff while shopping to pick up when you leave, but we’ve actually used them to store luggage overnight when moving from one area of the city to another. Just be aware if you leave contents in them overnight, you’ll have to pay an additional fee (via coin) to get your belongings out. You can also use them to temporarily store luggage when leaving the country or going to an airport if you have lots of luggage and can’t carry it all – if you need to make more than one trip. Also see our page about Coin Locker Hacks just to the north in Ueno.

Co-working Spaces

There are a few nice affordable co-working spaces in Akiba too. Best among these is Lifork on the 4th floor of the UDX bldg. They have a variety of shared offices, and even retail. Some of the small 2-person offices are as low as $900 USD/mo, which is incredible – considering this is Tokyo – and the UDX bldg. is right across from the JR Akihabara Station, which makes it incredibly convenient. Near Suehirocho Station (above), is 1/3 Work Life, which is also good. They also offer business mailboxes. Rates are below $450 USD/mo. Another one in the area is Rampart. It’s right across the street from Shosen Book next to Showa Dori. They also have door’ed meeting rooms. Regus is another option, although quite a bit more expensive. BIZcomfort is another option in the area, although there is no staff at all here. All you get is a 24-hour keycard.

Language Schools

Halfway between Akiba and Ueno, just to the northeast is the Intercultural Institute of Japan, which among other things, has a language school.

WiFi

Just aross from the Akiba UNI-QLO store, in the block west of the Washington Hotel is a visitor center and a free Wi-Fi hotspot shown below:

Conclusion

One potentially disturbing aspect of modern Akihabara to some is that the area is becoming less focused on electronics and more on anime. Akihabara was once known mostly for electronics. While Yodobashi/Bic/Sofmap are still around, they are facing growing competition from Amazon and other online retailers, which is cutting into business. There are still lots of electronic shops in the area, but the trend seems to be more towards anime today. Electronics shopping seems to have moved more to the Shinjuku and Ikebuluro areas on the west side of the city.

Anyway, that’s it. Have fun exploring + finding stuff in Akihabara. It’s a fairly small area – if you spend an entire day or two there, you can easily see it all.

LINKS

https://akihabara-japan.com/

Akihabara on Google Maps

JR Akihabara Station Map

Akihabara Station @ Wikipedia

Akihabara Station Guide @ Japan Rail Pass

https://visit-chiyoda.com

&And Hostel Akihabara (35°41’50.94″ N 139°46’38.84″ E)

First Cabin Akihabara (35°41’51.28″ N 139°46’37.66″ E)

Washington Hotel Akihabara (35°41’50.56″ N 139°46’25.69″ E)

https://www.akihabaraluxurycityhouse.com/en-us

https://bit.ly/2sdBT91

GLANSIT Akihabara Hostel

Grids Akihabara Hostel

Studio BnA Akihabara

Akihabara’s 4 Sofmap Stores @ Matcha

Bic Camera Akiba

Yodobashi Akiba Electronics

Super Potato Retro Video Game Store

Manseibashi Station Official

Manseibashi Station @ Wikipedia

Manseibashi Station – Kanda’s abandoned train station

Manseibashi: The Phantom Station of Tokyo

Manseibashi Station (1912-1936) @ Old Tokyo

mAAch ecute: Akihabara’s Best-Kept, Non-otaku Secret

mAAch eCute official

Akihabara Food Guide: What to Eat in Akihabara

Best Cafes In Akihabara That Are Not Otaku-Culture Oriented

10 Ultimate Akihabara Cafes You Must Try Besides Maid

Best Gyoza in Akihabara

Jack In the Donuts

Marion Crepes

The French Toast Factory

Excelsior Cafe Akihabara

Gundam Cafe

Key’s Café

Moco Cafe

My trip to Japan, Akihabara and the SAO Cafe

10 Best Shops in Akihabara

Akihabara Shopping @ Japan Visitor

Best 10 Department Stores near Akihabara Station @ Yelp

atré Akihabara

Tokyo Radio Depato Electronics Parts Store

TamTam Akihabara: One of Akihabara’s Largest Hobby Shops

Kaiyodo Hobby Lobby Tokyo

Don Quijote Official

Don Quijote Akiba @ Yelp

Don Quijote Akihabara – Tokyo Things To Do & Itineraries | Planetyze

Easily spend a day in Don Quijote in Akiba

Akihabara Travel Guide | MATCHA

10 Best Akihabara Tours & Tickets

Akihabara : 15 Best Things to Do

Akihabara Beyond the Popular Attractions @ Tokyo Cheapo

7 Picks For Akihabara Souvenirs @ Matcha

Get iPhone and Mac at Bargain Prices

Coworking Spaces in Akihabara @ Akihabara News

Liforkhttps://akihabara.lifork.jp/maintenance.html

UDX Akihabara

JR East

All JR East station maps

JR Yamanote line: Getting around Tokyo

Best Route from Shinjuku to Akihabara Station

JR Saikyo Line to Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Omiya & Odaiba

allaboutjapantrains.com

akihabaranews.com

akihabara-booster.com

akihabara-trip.com

https://en.japantravel.com/tokyo/super-potato-in-akihabara/2410

https://en.japantravel.com/guide/unlock-japan-with-japan-travel-bike/43086

https://en.japantravel.com/

https://www.yelp.com/biz/%E3%82%BB%E3%82%AC-%E7%A7%8B%E8%91%89%E5%8E%9F%EF%BC%93%E5%8F%B7%E9%A4%A8-%E5%8D%83%E4%BB%A3%E7%94%B0%E5%8C%BA

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1066443-d10094610-Reviews-Sega_Akihabara_1st-Chiyoda_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/cool-tech-souvenirs-akihabara/

Tripadvisor

Akihabara photos @ Cool Photo Japan

Japan Post

VIDEOS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV7fcmY62hY&feature=share

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Okamura Chair Museum Akasaka

Name: Okamura Chair Museum

Kind: Museum

Location: 35°40’30.53″ N 139°44’19.80″ E

In Akasaka – just behind Japan’s central gov’t area, along Sotobori-Dori is a chair museum by the company Okamura. This company has made office chairs in Japan for decades as well as some of the car seats for early Honda and Toyota cars.

To get there turn south at the intersections of Aoyama-Dori and Sotobori-Dori in Akasaka, head past the large Bic Camera, then about 2.5 blocks south, and it will be on your left.

It’s shown here with a reverse view looking north – it’s on the right with the red sign, and Bic Camera is up on the left with the red sign on top.

To get there by Metro subway, exit at Tameike-Sanno station (Ginza Line 06 and Namboku Line 06), turn left, head one block south, turn right (north) onto Sotobori-Dori, then head north 2 blocks. It will be on your right. It’s only 3 blocks from the station.

It closes early though 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM most days. There’s a helpful information desk on the 2nd floor. Enter through the automatic sliding glass doors, and head up the stairs.

There’s a fair amount of other things to do in the area – across the street are the TBS HQ, a nice shopping arcade called Akasaka Sacas, and to the south Akasaka Intercity Air, as well as Toranomon Hills futher south on Sotobori Dori. If you go far enough south on Sotobori Dori, you will end up in Shimbashi near the Shimbashi JR station. Tokyo Metro Ginza Line 08 also stops there.

There is also a very cool small backstreet lined with shopping, restaurants, and hotels one street west of the Bic Camera building which you can enter at 35°40’39.74″N 139°44’10.63″E. Well worth a look.

Roppongi Hills and Ark Hills are just a few miles further west.

A massive Family Mart at 35°40’24.39″N, 139°44’19.62″E, and a Japan Post office right across the street from that.

First Cabin Akasaka is also close by (35°40’22.56″N, 139°44’15.66″E).

Sotobori-Dori west of central gov’t buildings shown above, to the south of the museum.

LINKS

All eyes on Akasaka

TBS

Akasaka Sacas

Akasaka Sacas @ tripadvisor

First Cabin Akasaka

LUMINE Ikebukuro Food Court

Name: LUMINE Ikebukuro

Kind: Depato

Location: 35°43’43.85″ N 139°42’33.51″ E

The food courts on floors 7 + 8 of LUMINE Ikebukuro are amazing. Shop after shop of high quality food at reasonable prices. A few really good burger joints, all kinds of cafés, and sweets, pancake + sundae places, and higher end restaurants on the 8th floor.

LUMINE is at the south west end of Ikebukuro JR station. Take the Metropolitain exit, head just to the left down the sidewalk, past TOBU depato, then under the high metal beam roof. The escalators are right there. Take one to the top floors.

The food basement in the TOBU bldg. right next door is great too.

So… here’s how to get there:

  1. Exit JR Ikebukuro Station at the west or Metropolitan (Theater) exit. This is on the west/southwest side of the station.
  2. You’ll come up stairs when exiting, there will be a tiny Starbucks on the right, a TOBU depato on the left. You’ll be out in a small square with some shops across the street.
  3. Head south, past the TOBU store, sticking to the far left of the sidewalk. If you’re to the right of the Taito Station, you’re too far west.
  4. After you pass the TOBU bldg, go about another block and you’ll see another JR station exit like this:

It says “West Entrance” but it’s really the Southwest entrance on a map. There’s another exit called South Exit inside the building south of this. Either west or south exits will do.

The real JR map of the station is here, but it doesn’t really show this entrance.

5. Walk past this entrance, sticking to the left, and you’ll come into an area with a bunch of escalators, and some shops, and coin lockers:

This is what you want – board the escalators to the top floors to find the restuarants. Note the “M” on the building. This used to be called the “Metropolitain Building” but is now called LUMINE.

As a footnote, just to the right on this photo – by the exit from the escaltors, there are all kinds of interesting shops – there’s a Coffee Roasters Laboratory Cafe, a Mr. Donut (in fact 2 of them on that side of the station), and a few blocks south, a MOS Burger. There is also another shopping area near the Coffee Roasters called Esola.

2nd footnote: Just to the north of the Starbucks mentioned above, there is a huge JR Travel Service Center which has lots of info, train bookings, and other useful traveller info.

Just west down the street past the Taito Station mentioned there is a large Bic Camera annex, and beyond that further west, a OIOI depato. Keep in mind there are 5 Bic Camera stores around Ikebukuro station.

All of these places are within a few blocks of each other.

So, if you’re in the mood for nice food courts, and sellers, check out the LUMINE food court shown above, and the food seller basement in the TOBU depato next door. Both are outstanding.

Links

LUMINE floor guide

LUMINE Ikebukuro

https://www.lumine.ne.jp/english/ikebukuro/

TOBU Ikebukuro

Depachika Delights: The Underground Food Halls of Tokyo

Tokyo Food Guide

Map:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=esola+ikebukuro&t=ffab&ia=places&iai=%E3%82%A8%E3%82%BD%E3%83%A9%E6%B1%A0%E8%A2%8B-%E8%B1%8A%E5%B3%B6%E5%8C%BA-2&iaxm=places

Harajuku + Omotosando Superguide

Name: Harajuku + Omotosando

Kind: Town

Location: 35°40’11.89″ N 139°42’32.43″ E

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Page takes some time to load due to photos.

Harajuku + Omotosando are 2 famous co-joined areas in west central Tokyo. Both spots are popular among young people and tourists.

Harajuku is most famous for its shopping street – Takeshita Street.

Just to the north is Yoyogi and just to the south is Shibuya. Harajuku Station is on the JR Yamanote Line on the west side of Tokyo. A brand new larger JR station was completed in late 2019 to replace the historic aging older wooden station, which is now much too small for the tourist load. The new station is just south of the old one in the same block.

Just to the west of the station is Yoyogi National Gymnasium and Yoyogi Park – one of the most popular parks in Tokyo – and well worth a stop in spring, summer, and fall.

To get here, take the any JR line that changes with the JR Yamanote Line, and get off at Harajuku Station. As a footnote, there is actually an other entrance/exit all the way on the west side of Omotosando. You can walk underground to the exit, or walk all the way down Omotosando Blvd. and re-enter at the station entrance on the north side of the street.

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Old Harajuku JR Station. The new station is on the left. Turn left from this vantage point at the next corner to enter Omotosando Blvd. Takeshita Street is to the right in this photo, out of frame.

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Old Harajuku JR Station exit. The new station is to the right. Takeshita Street is straight ahead. This exit is shown in the photo above under the clock.

Harajuku Station 200321a2.jpg
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Newly completed Harajuku Station on the JR Line. The old station is just to the right, out of frame.

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East side exit. You can take the Chiyoda, Ginza, or Hanzomon Lines. The JR station is straight ahead a few miles.

After you exit the station, you can either turn left, and be at the entrance to Takeshita Street, or you can head right (south) and end up at a large intersection. If you head east from the intersection, you’ll be heading down Omotosando Blvd – which is the main shopping and restaurant street in the area.

Takeshita Street is shorter and takes less time, but is also much more crowded since it is smaller and more popular. Takeshita Street is mainly known for its several Crepé shops – including the famous Marion Crepés which was founded in 1976. There is also another Marion Crepés in the backstreets of Akihabara. There are also lots of clothing stores, restaurants, other food places, oddity shops, and a small Bic Camera annex.

There are also a few hidden gems if you’re willing to venture down a few side streets for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. We’ll cover a few of those later.

Takeshita Street

The entrance to Takeshita Street is located at 35°40’17.76″ N 139°42’10.93″ E right across from the entrance of the old Harajuku Station. Head east down the street.

It’s usually pretty crowded – espescially on nights and weekends. You’ll have to jostel with lots of other people. Marion Crepés is about 1/2 way down on the left.

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Old harajuku Station exit just across from the entrance to Takeshita Street.

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Entrance to Takeshita Street. There is an excellent Hoshino’s Coffee just to the left under the sign over the entrance. There is also a Family Mart.

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Giant crepé menu on Takeshita Street. Around $5-$7 each.

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Angel Crepés shop.

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Angel Crepés. You can eat yourself silly at these places. But after walking 10-15 miles a day, you’ll want to.

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World-famous Marion Crepés.

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Bic Camera Select annex on Takeshita Street. Just to the right is a Daiso 100¥ store.

About 1/2 way down Takeshita Street on the right, you’ll find a small side street that heads up a hill. Head up this street to the end – past several shops and boutiques, and then head left as the street curves around. Wander down a bit futher and at the end you’ll find the Depla Pol Chocolatier. This fabulous place has all kinds of goodies and waffles to boot. It’s only open from 10:00 AM to 8PM but well worth it. Its located at approximately 35°40’15.61″ N 139°42’14.89″ E. But because it’s off the beaten path, there is almost never a line and you can usually get right in.

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Head left at this bldg.

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Entrance to Depla Pol Chocolatier.

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There is also an excellent bar/restaurant hidden back on this street.

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Along this street is an amusingly named beer/coffee shop called Farms – by Good Munchies.

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A stroll down Takeshita St.

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Just south of JR Harajuku Station. The new station bldg. is on the left. The tall NTT HQ bldg. (also known as the “bubble building”) is in the center off in the distance in Shinjuku to the north. To the right is Omotosando Blvd.

Omotosando Blvd.

Omotosando Blvd. entrance east of Harajuku Station. The Omotosando Hills shopping center is on the left.

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Heading east down Omotosando Blvd.


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Further down Omotosando Blvd. on the left side is a MOS Burger Café.


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There is also a Tokyu Plaza with an open-air garden on top.


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Apple Store on Omotosando Blvd.


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Plenty of nice restaurants along Omotosando Blvd.


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Omotosando Blvd. facing east.


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A side street off Omotosando Blvd.


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Another side street.

If you head down Omotosando Blvd, past the first major intersection, at around 35°40’04.35″ N 139°42’24.64″ E on the right across from the Ralph Lauren Flagship Store, you’ll see a side street. If you turn right here and head up the street, just on your right you’ll come to the best pancake shop in Harajuku: Flippers. This place is so good there is usually a line. The pancake craze has hit Tokyo and this is one of the best pancake shops in the city. Be prepared to wait and pay a few dollars to pig out on pancakes + fruit. But be careful – you can eat yourself sick in this place if you overdo it.

Flipper’s pancake shop in Omotosando.

There is another, competing pancake shop called A Happy Pancake (Shiawase no Pancake – literally Pancake Happiness) in Omotosando worth checking out. See our review of the one in Ikebukuro for links + more info.

There are all kinds of additional shops down side streets. It’s well worth it to wander down some of these streets to see what’s there. There is even a TinTin store tucked back on the south side of Omotosando Blvd. If you arrive early enough, you can easily walk all of Harajuku + Omotosando in a day. Try to avoid weekends and nights because that is when the area is packed with crowds of tourists.

If you walk all the way down Omotosando Blvd. about .7 miles, you’ll come to Rt. 413. If you head left (north) here, you’ll find all kinds of interesting stuff. There’s a great upscale noodle restaurant called Miyota. There’s also an Olympic bicycle shop which has some really nice bikes at reasonable prices. There’s an elegant upscale furniture store called Modern Works, and a few small drink spots: Beer Brain in a small wood shack on a trailer, and Stockholm – a small café with a tiny rooftop porch. All worth checking out


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Miyota in Omotosando.


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Beer Brain in east Omotosando.


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Stockholm Roast in east Omotosando.

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Back behind the new Harajuku Station to the west is Meiji Jingu Shrine. This is one of the most famous and popular shrines in all of Tokyo. It’s surrounded by a huge park with spectacular gardens. Well worth a look. To reach the entrance, just exit the station, then head over the small bridge behind it and to the right.

Just to the southwest of Meiji Jingu Shrine is Yoyogi Park – also well worth a visit – and it’s free. There ‘s a small pond inside, lots of walking paths, and large grass areas to sit in. It’s a popular spot for picnics among locals in spring and fall. To reach it, head south (left) from the entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine just for a few steps, then turn right under the pedestrian overpass. It’s just a few yards down on the right.

In fact, you can walk the entire road encircling both parks in under an hour or two. Both are well worth a look.

A Few More Notables

There are a few other interesting spots to check out: Watari-um Museum, Nezu Museum, and The Awesome Store. See links below for more.

Well, that’s it for Harajuku/Omotosando. Enjoy your trip – both are easy to access, and compact enough to see everything in a day. It’s one of Tokyo’s most intersting spots and well worth a look.

LINKS

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/destinations/tokyo/index.html?src=gnavi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku_Station

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/29/national/new-harajuku-station-building-unveiled-march-opening/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omotesand%C5%8D

http://omotesando.or.jp/jp

http://omotesando.or.jp/en/shop_category

https://thosewhowandr.com/blog/things-to-do-harajuku

https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/things-to-do/50-things-to-do-in-harajuku

https://whereintokyo.com/venues/25094.html

http://www.ao-aoyama.com/

http://japanshopping.org/

https://whereintokyo.com/venues/25094.html

https://favy-jp.com/topics/2559

https://t5pg.jp/shops/a009-011-003/

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066451-d8612608-Reviews-Sobakiri_Miyota-Minato_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

http://tokyobelly.blogspot.com/2017/02/omotesando-soba-kiri-miyota-delicious.html

http://www.poldepla.be/index.php?c=about&id=42

http://www.tbb.works/

https://stockholmroast.jp/

Watari-um Museum

Nezu Museum

IKEA Harajuku – Shopping And Vegan-Friendly Swedish Delights

https://matcha-jp.com/en/15

https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-temples-shrines/meiji-shrine

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3002.html

Harajuku Guide @ The Best Japan

VIDS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsOBBA-hvfM