Return to Itabashi – An 18-year journey – PART 2

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©2019-2020 tenmintokyo.com

By Staff

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Name: Itabashi

Kind: Town

Location: 35°44’45.85″ N 139°43’03.77″ E

Also see Part 1, Part 3.

In Part 1, I discussed my return to the small Japanese town of Itabashi after 18 years. For links and videos, see that post.

In Part 2 I’ll cover the town itself – things to do and see, and how to get around.

The Train Stations

There are 3 major train stations in Itabashi – and several exits: JR Itabashi Station, Shin-itabashi Station, Shimo-Itabashi Station, and Naka-Itabashi Station.

JR Itabashi Station is covered in Part 1. Shin-Itabashi Station is just a few blocks northwest of JR Itabashi Station. We’ll discuss it below.

First the JR Line. The main Itabashi station is on the JR Saikyo Line, and is between Jujo to the north, and Ikebukuro to the south. This is very advantageous – Ikebukuro is one of the biggest and most important interchange hubs on the JR lines, and can be used to route you to other parts of the city quickly – such as Eastern Tokyo (via Chuo Line), and south to Shinjuku. You can also get the Maronuchi Metro Line at Ikebukuro, which shoots you right into the heart of the Maronuchi district, or south to Shibuya. Itabashi is just far enough away to be inexpensive to stay at, but close enough to get to the major interchange stations in just a few minutes. In addition there is a lot to do in Ikebukuro itself, and if you stay in Itabashi you can sight-see in Ikebukuro without paying more for a hotel.

One stop to the north past Jujo Station is the small town of Akabane – also well worth a look. Jujo also has a small shopping arcade worth a look. You can hit both Jujo + Akabane in one day and see it all.

Shin-Itabashi Station is on the Toei Subway Line, and is just a few blocks from the main JR Itabashi Station. To get here, exit the main Itabashi Square area and head to the west side of JR Itabashi Station. There are several ways to do this – 1) Go through JR Itabashi Station, climb the stairs at the far end, exit at the top, head west, and into the square, 2) go through the small pedestrian tunnel at the south exit of the station, turn right on the first side street, and north into the square, or 3) walk north from the main Itabashi Square, then head west, then southwest down side streets to get to the square. The west/north side square is located at 35°44’47.04″ N 139°43’10.81″ E the main square is located at 35°44’43.10″ N 139°43’12.82″ E. The main station sits between them.

Once in the west square, head north out of it, turn left at the first street, then right at the next major intersection, then left 2 blocks past that, then 2 blocks up a curved road. It’s just a few blocks. Shin-Itabashi Station is on the left at the corner of the Nakasendo Hwy. Interestingly, if you head south on this highway, towards the town of Sugamo to the south, on the left and right sides, you’ll find entrances to the Toei Nishi-Sugamo Station around 35°44’37.88″ N 139°43’42.67″ E (the I-16 stop on the Toei Mita Line).

Shin-Itabashi Station.

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Nishi-Sugamo Station on the Toei Mita Line to the southeast. Sugamo is one town south of Itabashi on the Nakasendo Hwy. In fact you can walk there from Itabashi in just a few miles.

Shimo-Itabashi Station

Shimo-Itabashi Station is in the opposite direction – west of the APA Hotel, and on the Tobu Tojo Line. To get there, get to the west square outside the main JR Itabashi Station, head down the street to the south, turn right at the next street, follow it up to the YorkMart supermarket, then turn left. It’s one block to the left and you can’t miss it. Shimo-Itabashi Station is at 35°44’43.91″ N 139°42’53.47″ E.

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Shimo-Itabashi Station on the Toei Mita Line to the west. To get here, head south, then west from the west main square, up the street, then left at the YorkMart supermarket:

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To get to the YorkMart, and station, head left (west) past this bldg. just west of the west square, which is to the right in this photo.

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To get to the YorkMart, and station, head left (west) up this white-picketed street. The station is just up on the left 1 block. In early fall in Tokyo, the weather is usually still quite nice and summer-like. Just to the left of this is a large Maruetsu grocery store as well.

We won’t cover the Naka-Itabashi Station because it’s several miles to the west, but it’s interesting nonetheless. It’s also on the Tobu Tojo Line. There is also a nice shopping street and cafés around the station. There’s also a vast long walkway along a small tributary river which you can walk all the way back into central Itabashi. In fact, this waterway runs all the way back east to the Arakawa River, which empties to the south into Tokyo Bay.

South to Ikebukuro

Before we get to Itabashi’s main attractions, as a footnote, note that Ikebukuro is just to the south. Itabashi is so close to Ikebukuro, you can walk there. It’s less than 1.5 miles. Or of course, you can take the JR Saikyo Line 1 stop south. To walk, get to the east square outside JR Itabashi Station, head south past the koban, past the APA Hotel, and follow the street all the way east to Rt. 305. Once on 305, head south (right), and walk to Ikebukuro. Very short and easy walk.

Local Attractions

Itabashi is small Japanese town, and there aren’t any big, spectacular attractions. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, and nothing to see. In fact, the town is quite charming with shopping streets, and a main walk all the way to Sugamo to the south along the Nakasendo Hwy, as mentioned above. There are 6 main areas: 1) the area to the east of the station where the main square is, with shops and cafés, 2) the area on the west side of the station, also with side streets + shops/restaurants/cafés. 3) the large shopping street to the north of the Nakasendo Hwy – well worth a look. Lots of charming cafés along this walk. There is also a huge Life Supermarket along this street, 4) the Nakasendo Hwy itself – which you can walk all the way to the south to Sugamo, and beyond that, Tokyo Dome City, 5) Happy Road Oyama Shopping Street, 6) old Shopping Street Sugamo.

Let’s take these one-by-one:

East Square and Shops

Outside the JR Station east exit is a small park with new benches, a fountain, and lots of shops and cafés around the area. On the street to the south are several cafes, and there are restaurants to the north including a big Italian place. There is also a nice Lawson conbini at the square where you can get some food to take back to the hotel or square, although eating in public is frowned on by the Japanese in general. There is a also a new small public toilet box in the square.

If you head right outside the east square, there are lots of side streets and things to explore. 2 blocks to the north is an east-west street which leads to the west square on the other side of the station. To the right is a small 7-11 and supermarket, along with a lot of other shops. To the south, a nice large Family Mart conbini.

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Looking north just outside the east square. Lots of restaurants and shops. If you head left at the 2nd light above, you’ll come to the west square. There is also a 7-11 and small supermarket just a few blocks to the right. The Lawson is just to the left before the 1st light.

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East-west road from west square outside Itabashi Station. Turn right here, then right again to get to the south/east side of the station. The CO-OP grocery on the corner is quite good and inexpensive. Just above that is a Gusto Café.

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More nice local restaurants and shops on the east side.

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Explore the area to the east of the station – side streets and interesting things around every corner. If you go far enough east, you’ll come to Rt. 305, which leads to Ikebukuro to the south.

Also on the east side – further east beyond the shops – is the Toden Arakawa Line – better known to locals as the Sakura Tram – and is one of the last small-scale functioning trams in Japan. You can buy a ticket at the station, and ride a loop line around Tokyo and back. The tram has huge windows – giving a vast and clear view of the surrounding area.

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West Square and Streets

To the west of the station is another central square, with side streets with lots of shops, restaurants, and cafés. If you walk far enough west down the side streets from here, you’ll find the YorkMart grocery store. There is another large grocery (CO-OP) on the corner on the north side of the block the square is in too. To get here, exit JR Itabashi Station at the west exist, and head straight ahead.

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A pano of the west square – west exit from the JR Itabashi Station on the left, square in the center, around to the bike locker on the right. Turning right beyond the bike locker takes you down a road to the east side of the station. The large organic grocery (CO-OP) is the orange building shown on the right to the north of the bike locker. The bike locker here is paid, but fairly cheap – around 400¥ for 16 hours. If you leave a bike here, you’ll need to feed the parking machine once a day.

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View from the west side square. Side streets are in the center. There is also a nice café on the corner. A Welcia drug store is also down this street. To get to the YorkMart grocery store, head down the street to the left, turn right at the next intersection, then west up the street.

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The west square at night. The Maruju Café on the corner is quite good.

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Another restaurant on the backstreets on the west side.

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Just to the east of the CO-OP grocery, across the railroad tracks is a large TSUTAYA record shop. If you continue right from here for a block, then right again, you will come to the east square.

Shopping Street to the Northwest of Nakasendo Hwy

At 35°45’00.43″ N 139°42’48.55” E along the Nakasendo Hwy, a long shopping street splits off to the west. It’s well worth a look and goes on for miles. To enter, look for the 1950’s-style Gusto Café on the right, and the Percona Bank on the left. This is where the entrance is. To get to this entrance from the city square, head north on side streets from the station, cross the Nakasendo Hwy, and get onto the sidewalk on the north side. Head west. Keep walking several blocks, until you find the entrance. There is also a nice Family Mart along this area. This street has all kinds of shops and nice cafés like something you’d find in Europe. There is also a huge Japan Post Office here.

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Shopping street entrance. Nakasendo Hwy is just on the left. This is facing northwest.

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Nakasendo Hwy facing west. There are also sidewalks for peds and bikes.

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Nakasendo Hwy facing southeast towards Sugamo. We’ll get to this next.

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Along Nakasendo Hwy. there are a lot of nice cafes and shops you can check out too.

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The Bridge Café.

There are plenty of nice cafés along the street you can visit.

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There are all sorts of old interesting things to see along the shopping street. In this case, an old Japan Post residential mailbox.

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An old abandoned bike along the shopping street – with a warning telling the owner to remove it. This has been sitting here at least 10 years, maybe 20. Probably once a young girl’s bike – now since long moved on. The ghosts of the past.

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A small historical monument.

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There is also a Can*Do 100¥ shop on the street too.

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Chrome-plated fire hydrants along the street – the Japanese don’t mess around.

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The main shopping street, looking west.

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Further up the street you will come to this bridge, which is a good photo spot.

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Lots of small food shops such as Tiktea line the street.

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The Smash Hair Salon. Typical Japanese trendiness.

Happy Road Oyama Shopping Street

Far to the west of the central part of Itabashi is shopping street called Happy Road Oyama Shotengai. It’s located at 35°44’52.85″ N 139°42’07.87″ E and runs east to west. Definitely worth a stroll.

Nakasendo Hwy SE->Sugamo->Tokyo Dome City

Starting at approx. 35°44’54.94″ N 139°43’17.21″ E – just north of the town center in Itabashi, you can go all the way southeast on the Nakasendo Hwy – stop in Sugamo, then beyond down to Tokyo Dome City (TDC). It’s only a few miles and walkable in a few hours. On bike, only about 25 mins. Very easy. A nearly straight shot.

There are a few gotchas – such as the road split about 1/2 way to TDC which you must be aware of – we covered that in another post about biking from Itabashi to TDC. Don’t forget the Japanese drive on the left so it’s a good idea to stay on the left sidewalk side of the road.

The city has installed a new bike lane on part of the road near the universities area north of Tokyo Dome, so that part is easy and safe – although sometimes delivery trucks will park in the new bike lane – so be careful as you ride.

From Itabash Station, walk north til you hit Nakasendo Hwy – you can’t miss it since it’s a huge 2-lane street. You may want to cross to the north side of the street once on the sidewalk, then head right (south).

Footnote: Nakasendo Hwy later changes names down near TDC – and is called Hakusan-Dori or Rt. 403. The two are synonymous.

There are 3 main areas on the way: central shops and sidewalk to Sugamo, Sugamo area and station itself (there’s another nice APA Hotel in Sugamo), road split + university area after Sugamo, and Tokyo Dome City/Bunkyo Civic Center at the end. Along the way there are all kinds of restaurants and shops – including a MOS Burger, and Freshness Burger. There is also a very nice chocolatier shop near the Freshness Burger – just south of it on the same side of the street, in fact.

So…. here’s how to go:

First you’ll go south on the sidewalk/street for a long way. There’s not much to mention here – lots of ordinary high-rise apartments, and some shops. This part looks like this:

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This part goes on for quite a way – just keep going.

After a while you’ll come into an area with more shops, gas stations, food, and other retail:

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Keep going – head past this + just keep heading south.

After a while you’ll come to a similar area with a MOS Burner on the left, then critical split in the road, which you must take. If you don’t, you’ll end up way to the east on Old Hakusan-Dori which will lead you away from TDC. We show both below:

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Continue on the left here ’til you hit the MOS Burger:

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As a footnote – if you turn left on the next street immediately after the MOS Burger, you end up in Komagome – another small Japanese town.

Now the critical split: just on the right, you’ll see the area shown below with a weird split in the street – there’s a light on the right, with a bike lane about 5 ft. long, then another street, then another sidewalk across the street. This photo is facing southwest:

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Wait for the crosswalk signal, then proceed across.

Old Hakusan-Dori goes off to the left. You don’t want that – you want to cross to the other side where you see the people standing, then immediately follow the sidewalk south again (left, or south). This puts you back on Hakusan-Dori south heading towards TDC. Don’t miss this crossing, or you’ll be lost!

On the other side, you’ll see the Freshness Burger:

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Don’t cross all the way to the Freshness Burger – you want the left at the first sidewalk before that.

As you continue south again, you’ll be in the university area. There are several universities here, as well as the new city bike lanes on both sides paved with blue pavement:

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As this photo shows, trucks can block the bike lanes, so be careful.

This section is all downhill, so if you’re on a bike, you can actually get a good cruising speed going.

Past this area, you’ll come into Sugamo. There is an APA hotel here, then the Sugamo subway station, with a covered shopping street, a Beck’s Coffee, and other shops and food:

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APA Hotel just before Sugamo Station, facing south.

Cruise past the APA hotel, through the covered shopping street, and past Sugamo Station:

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Looking back north in the covered shopping area.

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Sugamo Station.

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If you want to take a break, there is also an atré shopping area just behind Sugamo Station.

Keep heading south past the station.

After just a few more miles, you’ll start to see TDC come into view. The first sign will be the Ferris wheel and roller coaster tracks in the distance:

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Cruising into Tokyo Dome City, on the right. Biking in makes it a quick trip.

If you’re on bike, you’ll want to turn right at the corner shown above because the bike parking lot is 1 block to the right, across from Bunkyo Civic Center. If you’re on foot, you’ll want to continue south for 1 block, then cross at the light and head right into TDC area.

Footnote: if you head left at the intersection shown above, in just a few miles you’ll be in Ueno. If you head left at the next block south shown above, you’ll end up in Akihabara. Both are less than 1 hour’s walk.

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Bunkyo Civic Center. The bike parking lot is just behind it to the right. Also behind BCC is Korakuen Station – one of the most critical stations on the Maronuchi Metro subway line. The round top area of the bldg. is a free observation deck with some of the best views in Tokyo.

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Bike parking, right, Korakuen Station (M22), left. Tokyo Dome City is just to the left. Korakuen Station is the 4th stop on the Maronuchi Line – which makes it an ideal jumping off point to Ikebukuro to the west, and Tokyo Station to the east. You can also get the Namboku Line here, which will shoot you south to Iidabashi Station where you can interchange to the Hanzomon Line for Oshiagé-SKYTREE Station. Hanzomon Line can also shoot you to Shibuya to the south. Ikebukuro is the western terminus.

Marunouchi Line map. The current station is shown in red. The small colored circles on the line map indicate interchange stations to other lines. Text is both English and Japanese. Some stations, such as Akasaka-Mitsuke are critical interchanges to major lines such as Ginza and Namboku. The arrows indicate the name + number of the next + previous stations on the line.

There are all kinds of shops along both sides of the streets. Restaurants, and a British “The Hub” pub on the corner at the light. Just to the south of that is Meets Port – another shopping area that is part of TDC.

If you head just up the street to the west behind Tokyo Dome Stadium, you can visit Korakuen Gardens, which is spectacular – it’s less than a block.

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Hakusan-Dori looking back north. Meets Port is just ahead. Turning right on Sotobori-Dori/Rt. 405 will take you back to the east side of Tokyo.

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Don’t miss the New Yorker’s Café right across the street.

Well, you made it. Now enjoy Tokyo Dome City – there are all kinds of things to do here – rides, restaurants, a grocery store, shopping mall, coffee, and a baseball museum. Nana’s Green Tea matcha parlour is not to be missed in the LaQua mall area. There is also a nice Don Quijote discount store right across the street. There is a luxury hotel as well as a First Cabin capsule hotel right in TDC.

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Tokyo Dome Hotel and ride @ Tokyo Dome City.

As a footnote if you head just another block south, you’ll come to Suidobashi Station. See our other article on things to explore around the Suidobashi Station area. That article also covers how to make the trip entirely on bike.

Enjoy your time in Itabashi. We hope this guide makes your visit easier and enjoyable.

LINKS

Toshima City

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimo-Itabashi_Station

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naka-Itabashi_Station

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1066446-d9569977-Reviews-Happy_Road_Oyama_Shotengai-Itabashi_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

https://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/meetsport/

https://tokyocheapo.com/locations/north-tokyo/komagome/

VIDS

This vid shows both the east and west city sqaures.

Tokyo Drew has a nice vid inside the Tokyo Dome City area

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

How to really use Suica card machines

In this post we’ll quickly cover how to use the Suica card machines @ Japan train stations – not too much in depth stuff – just the most basic but important things to know.

A photo of one of the machines:

  1. To use English tap the small square blue button in the upper right corner of the touch screen. This takes you to a screen with more large touch-screen buttons – such as buy new Suica, add fare to Suica, etc. Once on this screen, tap the touchscreen button for the type of transaction you want.
  2. Note most machines have a combo of physical + touchscreen buttons.
  3. To cancel any transaction, press the small plastic round red button on the left on the top panel (just to the left of the white down-pointing arrow).
  4. When you first buy your card, you inser bills in the bottom right black slot. The slot will light telling you to put your $ in. Once you put ¥ in and press the purchase button on the touchscreen, the machine will spit your new Suica card out of the bottom left black slot. Take your card. You can now use it – at the IC turnstyles in stations, at coin lockers (newer ones anyway), and in some convenience stores to buy stuff at checkout).
  5. If you want to use coins for any transaction, in addition, drop them in the coin slot on the right side of the machine (the one with the rectangular yellow border around it.
  6. If you need to add ¥ to your Suica later, first tap English again (if you need English), then insert your Suica into the top left slot (the one with the yellow border around it on top). A green light may also flash around the slot telling you where to insert your card. Once the machine sucks your card in, there will be buttons for the amount you want to add. Tap the button onscreen, then insert bills and/or coins as described above. The amount will be added and your cards’ new total will be displayed. Once the machine adds your ¥, tap the done button and it will eject your card. Take your card and you are done.
  7. There is also an option purely to check your Suica’s current balance – follow the onscreen instructions on the machine.

That’s it – you won’t use most of the other controls on the machine – hell, we still don’t know what most of them are for.

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.

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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