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).
Page may take time to load – lots of photos/vids. Please be patient.
The native word for post office in Japanese is the tounge-twister Yubinkyokyu (Pronounced You-bean-kyo–kyu).
There are post offices all throughout major cities in Japan. Some are larger and in major complexes, but some are smaller and are tucked away on side streets, or near train stations, and in smaller strip malls in neighborhoods. Most are indicated by a green + red-striped or white + red-striped sign on the outside of the building.
Most of the staff are helpful, but in the smaller or less central ones, some staff may not speak English, or may be nervous about speaking English. For this reason some staff may try to avoid you or refer you to other staff. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to be helpful – it’s more out of a worry that they won’t be able to speak English well, and thus be seen as not being able to do their jobs well – which is a no-no in service-oriented Japan. However, this is rare, and most will go out of their way to help you – especially in the bigger metro ones.
There are both domestic and international forms to fill out to mail or ship packages (see below).
The international JP service is called EMS – Express Mail Service. EMS has an excellent site in English. Luckily the forms are in both Japanese + English. You will need to fill them out in detail though – or the staff won’t mail your package. The most important items (other than name, address, phone, etc) are a list of each item, its weight, contents, and each item’s value. You have to be exact with the description for each item. If the clerk has doubts about an item – which might be dangerous or hazardous, they may ask you to clarify it – for example, if you buy a plastic model at an electronics store + ship it overseas, they may ask if it contains paint or glue.
As you enter the post office, get in line. Be polite + aware of others around you. Some offices have a numbered paper ticket machine from which you must take a ticket to get service. There is ususally an LED display with a number on it above the ticket machine. Many JP’s also have ATMs inside them – usually the affiliated JP Bank – and some have a bill pay machine, as shown in the photo below on the right side:
A small Japan Post Office tucked away on the ground floor of a high rise manshon (apartment bldg.) shown below – east of Kinshicho near Ojima Komatsugawa Koén:
As a major bonus, there is both a Mr. Donut (Misa-Do in Japanese) and a small MOS Burger on either side of the PO.If you turn left here + head west, you will pass Sumiyoshi, and just to the north of that, Kinshicho.
Japan Post (red + white sign), left, MOS Burger (green sign) to the right of that, and Mr. Donut (yellow/orange sign), right.In Japan you can mail your stuff and pig out on all kinds of junk food at the same time – to make up for that 15 miles you just walked– all in one place.(As an even further added bonus, we’ve added a Mr. Donut Sidecar section at the end for your enjoyment).
A larger, more mega-PO between Shimbashi and Toranomon areas in Tokyo. Some PO’s in Japan are open late – up to 9:00 PM or so.
Another Post Office – this one just southwest of the spectacular Tokyo Sky Tree.
Just across from the major Family Mart in Akasaka, on the left is a large JP Post Office, Akasaka SACAS is 2 blocks straight ahead (facing west).The PO entrance is right next to the red + blue Do Not Enter sign on the left, shown here.As a footnote, directly across from the PO on the other side of the street is the excellent curry beef restaurant, Marble. As a further footnote, just 1 block more down on the right is the capsule hotel First Cabin Akasaka.
Be sure to check out curry beef shop Marble, right across the street from the Akasaka Post Office.
You may want to bring your own mailing box + tape and box everything up yourself on a side counter before you get in line. Most JP’s also sell boxes and tape for a very reasonable price – under $5. One thing about Japanese mailing tape is it’s made of very thin cloth coated with a thick layer of latex – so you can tear it with your hands without the need for scissors or tools. Very clever. You can also buy the same kind of tape in most conbiini (conveniences stores) in Japan. The tape is usually tan-colored (although some brands sometimes have a very pungent toxic odor to them once you open the package). If you need help sealing your box, most JP staff will be happy to help.
JP mailboxes in Japan are usually large square metal boxes painted red with a 〒 symbol on the sides or front:
You’ll see these all over – on sidewalks, near train stations, at temples, everywhere.
There are other smaller sized boxes around Japan – some are tall narrow ones like the one above, but slender and taller. Old Japanese mailboxes from the early 1900’s were tall, slender, round-shaped, and about 5 ft. hight. You can see one in the Postal Museum Japan @ Sky Tree (see link below).
There are both domestic and international forms, as shown below. The international form is actually a little easier to understand and requires slightly less info. Be sure to fill each out meticulously.
Well that’s it for now. Post Offices in Japan are easy to use – just be aware of the language issue – and if you have trouble, try to use one of the bigger offices in a major central area – it’s more likely the staff in these will speak fluent English and not be as nervous about helping foreigners.
An old Hibiki (“Echo”) brand household mailbox from a bygone era.
Mr. Donut (Misad0 for short in Japan) was founded in 1956 in the US but went bankrupt in the 1980’s. There is only one left in the US today – in a small town in IL. Mr. Donut was actually the originator of the Caffe Latte Mocha decades before Starbuck’s stole the idea. The donut chain began as a single donut shop called Tommy’s Donuts (see photo) and later expanded into a franchise in the 1960’s + 70’s and was renamed Mr. Donut.
Sadly, Mr. Donut went bankrupt in the US in the 80’s – mainly due to the rise of Dunkin, Winchell’s, Krispy Kreme, and Starbucks. Oddly, they still have a US licnesing site.
Amazingly, today Mr Donut is the biggest donut chain in Japan.
And boy, do the Japanese love their Misad0. Around Halloween + Christmas, the franchise goes nuts – even holding special Halloween parties featuring all kinds of crazy Halloween-themed donut designs + specials in Japan.
It’s so OTT you could easily spend a couple $100 bucks in Misado in Japan and eat yourself sick (but of course that wouldn’t happen because in Japan you probably walked 10-15 miles that day and are so hungry at the end of the day you could easily eat a dozen and not even blink).
Even more incredible, in the popular Tokyo town of Ikebukuro, there are three Mr. Donuts – one larger, older one a few blocks to the east of JR Ikebukuro Station, and two just outside the west exit of JR Ikebukuro Station. One of those two just opened in 2019.
The original Tommy’s Donuts bldg. from 1960’s. The shape of the bldg. would become one of Mr Donut’s trademarks in the US.
Mr Donut franchise in the US in 1980’s.Note the pay phone booth.
Crazy Misado Halloween Party lineup in a store in Japan in 2019.You have use restraint in these places – or you can stuff yourself silly.
Decisions….. a Mr. Donut in Akabane in Northeast Tokyo.
Dunkin and Krispy Kreme have picked up on the idea – all 3 chains now battle it out around Halloween every year for donut-eaters’ ¥.
There are even new Matcha donuts from Mr Donut in Japan. There are also other campaigns such as Hello Kitty donuts, Mister Donut Pokemon Collection, and lots of other themes.
Mr. Donut also sometimes has special promos on ceramic coffee mug themes in their stores. You can even find them on eBay sometimes.
More Misado Historical Lore
Misado set circa 2002 – note the price – around 200¥ – about $2 US.
Misado set circa 2002 – They also served croissants, danish, and coffee.
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:
Exit JR Ikebukuro Station at the west or Metropolitan (Theater) exit. This is on the west/southwest side of the station.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inside Ikebukuro Station – near the Seibu east exit is a little sweets shop called simply Press Butter Sand. To get there, head for the Seibu east exit, then past the Metro Maruonuchi line gate entrance, then past the Metro tickets machines, and up to your left.
Press Butter Sand is just on your left before the ISP stairwell entrance.
Possibly the best pancake restaurants in Japan are A Happy Pancake chain of restaurants (aka “Shiawase no Pancake” – literally Pancake Happiness).
There are several all over Japan but the 2 most impressive ones are in Omotesando + Ikebukuro. There is also one in Shinjuku. The one in Omotosando/Harajuku is the newest, cleanest, and biggest of them all, but the others are just as worth checking out.
To find the one in Ikebukuro, exist theSeibu east exit from JR Ikebukuro Station + head south. A few blocks down, turn right, then turn left down the 1st alley (see map below). You can also use GPS on smart phones + simply type the name in – your smartphone should show you a map, the Happy Pancakelocation, and your direction relative to it. It’s one block southwest of the Baskin Robbins, also shown @ the bottom of this map:
The alleyway looks like this and at the far end is the entrance which leads back out to a street on the southeast side of JR Ikebukuro Station:
A Happy Pancake is 2/3 down the alley on the left – and is in the basement shown here.
Prices range from $8-$15. Lots of great combinations.
To get seated enter the number of adults + kids at this machine, then press OK – you’ll be give a ticket with a number on it.You can also scan the QR code onto your smartphone.
Be careful on the treacherous stairs – yikes! – which have no railing!
Despite what you may think Japan actually has some pretty awesome grocery stores. And their prices are pretty reasonable – in some cases less than the US.
And their products and fresh foods seem to be of higher quality.
There are several large chains – Life, YorkMart, Marutetsu, and others.
Don’t confuse these stores with conbini – convenience stores – such as Lawson, Family Mart, and 7-11, which many Japanese live out of for food.
Japanese are not big on buying huge carts of food and storing it – most Japanese will stop on the way home from work and get something for a day or two. Their refrigerators are much smaller too – even full sized ones can be as small as 1/4 the size of a US fridge.
There are some good deals in grocery stores – fresh seafood abounds. So do vegetables. Prices are about the same as the US – sometimes lower.
Portions are smaller, but not by much – and seem to be much fresher.
Unlike in US stores, in general you checkout, then bag your own groceries out of your basket on a small side counter deisgned for that purpose.
There is also a general drug-food chain of smaller stored called Welcia which sometimes has some good discount deals on food and snackes. If you’re in the mood for something like a box of butter cookies, you might able to find them at Welcia for $1.
The Japanese discount store Don Quijote also has a food section – some stores have a better selection than others. You can find some good deals here for ¥100 or under a few dollars. It pays to look around.
7-11 even sells food with English labels on them in most J groceries.In this case a large piece of smoked salmon for under $3. Very cheap + good.
Coffee + tea at a large Don Quijote.
Corn Dogs on sale on @ YorkMart.Not the healthiest – but cheap. 3 for under $2.
Cruise 0n up on your bike, and load up on good cheap groceries @ YorkMart.
Huge Don Quijote in downtown Ikebukuro – second bldg. from right. If you can stand the 7 floors of stairs + incredibly narrow aisles, you can find some deals.
“Ekimae” in Japanese means “In front of the station”.
Yogurt for around $1 in Don Quijote – yes, it’s possible to eat really cheap – and well – in Japan.
Sardines in Don Quijote.
Tiny cheese @ Don Quiojte for under a $1.
A minituare jar of hachi mitsu (honey) in Don Quijote for under $1. Perfect for sweetening coffee without using sugar.
You can even find dessert for under $1 in Don Quiojte.
Having said all that, hands down the very best food shopping in Tokyo is at MEGA Don Quijote in Shibuya. It’s just up the hill from Shibuya 109 on the north side. Just cross the street to the right at the 109 entrance and head northwest up the hill. MEGA Don Quiojte is just a few blocks up on the right. Head to B1 level for the best selection of good, cheap food you can find in Tokyo. There are great deals in their meat section if you’re a meat lover. Plenty of other good deals too. Watch for sales. Shopping here is a great way to eat cheap in Tokyo.
MEGA Don Quijote in Shibuya, Japan.
Loads of great meals cheap.
High-quality fresh produce cheap too.
Bag of bean sprouts – ¥28
Some pretty high quality meat for low prices too.
Even a cheesecake with milk from Hokkaido.
Also – if you like good burgers, just down the street 2 blocks is one of the best MOS Burgers in Japan.
7 SURPRISES WHEN YOU FIRST VISIT A JAPANESE SUPERMARKET