Just east of Ikebukuro is the town of Otskua. It runs north-south approximately the same distance that Ikebukuro does to the west about 1 mile.
Otskua is a little more laid back than Ikebukuro is, but it still has its own deep charm in a unique way. The streets have a slightly older feel, there’s a street car, and more foreign influence than most other areas in Tokyo. Some areas feel downright European – as if you had gotten lost somewhere in Paris. Some of the the hidden backstreets have a delightful charm unrivaled in all of Tokyo. The area is huge and you can wander miles of blocks for days and not see it all. If you’re in the area and have a few hours to blow, definitely stop and have a look.
There is also a large bike locker just south of the station around 35°43’52.66″ N 139°43’44.24″ E, just around the large atré shopping complex next to it.
The main north-south street is called Kasuga-Dori (Rt. 254) and runs from the original Ōtsuka Station, all the way south for several miles to Kasuga Station. About 1/2 way down the street splits onto another street which runs all the way west to Ikebukuro. You can wander Kasuga-Dori for hours and browse all the shops + restaurants.
During Obon (Festival of Ancestors) each year , Otsuka hosts its own mega festival and parade called Awa Odori.
Ikebukuro + Otsuka are slated next for redevelopment as the new cultural heart of Tokyo, so if you want to see some of the old world charm in the area before it’s gone forever, hop on over and take a look. While many of the neighborhoods will undoubtedly survive, much of the area will change soon.
Sugamo is a small area in Tokyo north of Tokyo Dome City and south of Itabashi on Rt. 17 (Hakusan Dori). It’s not a large area but still worth a look. The main attraction is Rikugien Gardens 2 blocks to the east (discussed below).
Central Sugamo facing northeast. The station + atré complex is the white square bldg. right of center. Rt. 17 or Hakusan Dori runs north-south. A Beck’s Coffee is the tiny black bldg. next to the small concrete park in the lower right. The main outdoor covered shopping area is just off 17 in the upper center left. Just north of that on the east side of the street is the APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae (Ekimae means “at the station”). Continuing to head north on 17 for a few miles leads to the small charming micro-town of Itabashi, which just renovated its train station in 2020.There are various other shops + food palaces around the station as shown above.
Facing south on Hakusan Dori just south of the station. TDC is straight ahead.
Sugamo is not a huge area. But there’s still a fair amount to do. The atré complex over the station is worth a look, and Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street (discussed next) is a must-see. You can also stroll the outdoor shops along the streets on both sides for miles. Rikugien Gardens (discusssed below) a few miles to the east is a must-see. It’s one of the most well-known Japanese gardens in the world and in the spring + fall is spectacular. The town that Rikugien Gardens is in – Komagome – just to the northeast is also worth a quick look and isn’t too far.
Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street
Entrance to Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street which veers off to the left west of Hakusan Dori. The street is lined with charming shops, and if you follow it far enough north you’ll come to Itabashi.The entrance is just north of the APA Hotel on the leftaround 35°44’04.41″ N 139°44’12.70″ E.
Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street is a long narrow north-south street which parallels Hakusan Dori in Sugamo. The street is known as a hang-out spot for seniors, but it’s definitely worth a stop for everyone. The street has some very nice food shops with traditional Japanese foods of all kinds. If you keep going north until the end of Sugamo, you’ll come to the charming micro-town of Itabashi, which recently just built a brand new train station. Itabashi is just north of Ikebukuro and is a jumping off point for many other locations on the JR Saikyo Line such as Ikebukuro.
Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street with its charming shops facing north. Well worth a stroll.
Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street approaching Itabashi.
If you head south on Hakusan Dori from the station for a few blocks, there’s a side street around 35°43’52.63″ N 139°44’29.39″E heading east just after the MOS Burger on the left. At the end of this street about a mile down is world-famous Rikugien Gardens – one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in the country. It’s a must see. Admission is 300-400¥ or so, but it’s worth it for a couple bucks. While you’re there you can stop and check out the town – Komagome – which has its own JR station. It’s a small unremarkable town, but worth a quick walk. There’s also a very large ancient temple there with spectacular architecture. It also has its own APA Hotel – APA Komagome. See our post on Komagome for more about the town. It’s worth a quick look.
The obvious choice in the area, as we mentioned, is APA Sugamo Ekimae 2 blocks north of the station. Clean, upscale, and relatively cheap at $70-$80/night in off-season, it’s the best bet in Sugamo. There are others around in the area too. Check agoda.com for more choices.
North to Itabashi
Only about a mile north of Sugamo is the small charming town of Itabashi. Several rail lines including JR and the Toei Subway stop there. The JR station is on the Saikyo Line. It’s only about a mile walk north on Hakusan Dori and is worth it if you have extra time. See our full multipart post on Itabashi for more info.
Hakusan Dori and the area around TDC actually have some nice bike lanes – if there are no delivery vehicles parked in them.
Cruising south on Hakusan Dori facing southwest at sunset.
Beck’s Coffee near the station. The Japanese word for coffee is coheé.
The covered shopping street just north of the station facing north. APA Sugamo Ekimae is just ahead.You can also hang a right here to explore some of the backstreets where a good 200¥ coin-locker is located.
The covered shopping street on the west side of Hakusan Dori. Note the Toei Subway entrance on the left.
This MOS Burger is just down Hakusan Dori on the east side. If you turn left just after this shop when heading south on Hakusan Dori, you’ll come to world-famous Rikugien Gardens on the right – and Komagome.
MOS Burger menu. You can actually eat fairly cheap in Japan – under 500¥ (around $5) for a good MOS Burger meal. The company prides itself on fresh ingredients. Our experiences at the chain are generally good.
They even have some fun desserts.
There is also this small guitar school just north of the gardens.
Heading north out of Sugamo on Hakusan Dori to Itabashi in late fall.
The huge temple north of Komagome – eerily silent near midnight.
About a mile south of Tokyo Sky Tree in east central Tokyo is the town of Kinshicho. A small town centered around the JR Kinshicho rail station, Kinshicho offers a variety of department stores, movie theaters, grocery stores, a large outdoor park, and various other restaurants and shops. The town is compact enough to see in less than a day, and is worth a short day trip. It’s also close enough to walk to from Sky Tree to the north.
Take the Hanzomon Metro line to Kinshicho Station (Z13), or take the JR Chuo Line or Sobu-Chuo Line to Kinshicho Station and exit. There are exits on the street on the northwest side and in the basements of some of the large department stores. There is also a street-level exit on the west side of Kinshi Park at the northeast end of the town. The main JR Station sits below and underground beneath the TERMINA department store.
The town is roughly laid out in a grid or square less than .5 miles across. The station is in the center, with the TERMINA department store to the southwest, PARCO store complex to the southeast, AraK!T complex to the northwest and Kinshi Park to the north east (center right in this photo). To the east about a mile is the sister city of Kameido also with a JR station. On this map, Sky Tree is vivisble just a the top of the photo. The JR line tracks are visible in the lower center of the photo – just north of the main square.
TERMINA, PARCO, OIOI Department Stores
The central town area contains 3 main complexes as well as other side streets and shops. The main complexes are TERMINA, PARCO, and OIOI (pronounced “Marui”) department stores (depato in Japanese). The main east-west route at this intersection is Rt. 465. If you head west down Rt. 465, you’ll come to the fabulous Edo-Tokyo Museum, and the Hokusai Museum, both of which are located in the Ryogoku area, which also has a huge Sumo stadium.
On the northeast part of the town is a large park called Kinshi Park, which is popular with families. The park features a spectacular view of Tokyo SkyTree. Just to the north of the park is a large mixed-use center called OLINAS Core. There is also a free parking lot at OLINAS Core but only if you purchase over 15,00¥ worth of merch from any single shop. Interesting shops include a YAMADA Denki (electronics), a Seria 100¥ shop, a NITORI furniture shop, a Taito Game Station, and a TOHO Cinema. There is also a large baseball field, tennis courts, and gymnasium.
In the PARCO department store is a nice pancake shop called simply Butter which serves stacks of a dozen pancakes with fruit, whipped cream, and other goodies:
Crazy stacks of a dozen pancakes with fruit, butter, syrup, whipped cream, ice cream @ Butter in PARCO. Get ready to walk that 15 miles to walk it off.
Rakeru @ OIOI Kinshicho
Also in the OIOI bldg. is Rakeru. While not particularly high-end, this quaint western-style restaurant serves a variety of pancake plates with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and other toppings. Prices range from $6-$18. Not a bad little shop. There are loads of other nice restaurants on this floor also.
Thai Restaurant Keawjai
About 2 blocks west of the town center on Rt. 465 is the really awesome Thai Restaurant Keawjai. It’s right down from the corner around 35°41’45.61″ N 139°48’42.56″ E. Head west on 465 then turn north (right) up a side street. It’s on the left. It’s 1 block south of the ArcaK!T complex. From the street you will have a clear view of Tokyo Sky Tree to the north.
There is also a nice AEON supermarket in Kinshicho not too far away.
If you head east down Rt. 465 and cross the Jokojikken River at the Matsushiro Bridge, you’ll come to Kinshicho‘s sister city Kameido. We have another post on Kameido. It’s a smaller town and there’s not as much to do, but it’s less than a mile from Kinshicho so if you have time it’s worth a short hike. There is a station there but it’s only served by the Tobu Kameido Line and Chūō-Sōbu Line. There is no Metro stop. The 3 biggest features of Kameido are the atré shopping plaza, the huge Don Quijote 100¥ shop, and huge Mister Donut right across from each other.
Be sure to see our guide to Kameido‘s sister city – Kinshicho to the west.
Kameido (Ka-meh-ee-do) is a small town in east-central Tokyo. About a mile to the west is another popular town called Kinshicho. Kameido is smaller and there’s less to do but it’s still worth a quick stop + look.
There’s not a lot to do in Kameido since it’s a very small town, but it’s still worth a look. It’s a bit of an older slightly run-down town that could use a redevelopment, but it’s so small the Tokyo Metro Gov’t hasn’t made that a priority. There’s a big atré shopping mall with various shops right next to the station. There are also a lot of nice restuarants underneath the train tracks.
South of the tracks on one corner there’s a huge Don Quijote 100¥ shop worth a stop. Right across to the east is a huge (and we mean huge) Mr. Donut with every kind of donut you can imagine. The Japanese have an abbreviation word for Mr. Donut: Misado.
To the northeast (right) of the station is a large atré shopping center worth a look. They also have a Tully’s Coffee which has charge ports for your devices. There’s also groceries here. There’s a complete Atre Kameido Floor guide.
There are also a few bus stops in the center square, but their signs are only in Japanese so you’ll need to know where you’re going ahead of time.
Large atré shopping center just north of the station.
If you head north from the square where the atré is, there main street is lined with lots of shops – worth a quick walk up + down for a look.
Cultural Center+ Museum
If you head west of the atré, there’s a small cultural center called the Kameido Cultural Center. Right next to that is a bldg. housing a small museum. Both are worth a quick look, although the museum is quite limited.
The museum is in this bldg.
To get to the museum cross the square from atré west past this Koban (police box) and head to the building with the triangular earthquake reinforcements on the front shown on the left above.
Well that’s it for Kameido – it’s a small town. So just wander around a bit and have fun exploring.