The name “Ginza” is synonymous the world over with luxury + wealth. The name itself means “Silver Mint” – because when the Tokugawa Shogunate moved Japan’s capital from Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo) in the early 1600’s, the largest silver mint in Japan was relocated to Ginza as well. (The name Tokyo actually means “Eastern Capital“).
Ginza is an astonishing place – not just for its luxury stores, and upscale vibe, but there’s a feel to the place all its own – let’s just call it an air of positivity. It’s also centrally located on the east side of Tokyo which makes it a good jumping off point to other parts of the city. To the north is Tokyo Station and the Marunouchi area – the central finance district of Tokyo, to the west is the Imperial Palace and Hibiya, and to south is Shimbashi.
One can wander the backstreets of Ginza, especially at night, and be dazzled at every turn.
There is also a large-scale diorama of late 19th century Ginza at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
A typical store in Ginza.
Be sure to first read our Yurakucho Superguide as it contains all the info you need on the main station near Ginza – Yurakucho, and the surrounding area to the west of Ginza. There are also smaller underground stations on the Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, Hibiya Lines around Ginza at street level – but there is no central above-ground Ginza Station, surprisingly.
Tokyo Station is just to the north of Yurakucho and Ginza and is an easy walk in just a few minutes. Hibiya and the Imperial Palace are just to the west of the TIF and are also an easy walk. If you start early enough, you can see all 3 areas in one day – although that would be a very full day. Ginza alone can easily take 12-14 hours to fully explore and possibly a few days if you really want to see everything in-depth.
For ease of access, other than Yurakucho Station, the Ginza Metro Station is probably the best bet for most people – it also stops at many other interesting areas on the Ginza Line including Asakusa (its eastern terminus), Ueno, Kanda, Shimbashi, Toranomon, Akasaka-mitsuke, Omotesando, and Shibuya (its western terminus). It pops up onto the street in central Ginza with several different exits with the main one being around 35°40’19.54″ N 139°45’50.72″ E.
A few blocks east of the center of Ginza Crossing is Higashi-Ginza Station on the Hibiya Line (Higashi is the Japanese word for east, nishi means west).
Ginza lies to the southeast of Yurakucho in a roughly 5-block area. The 2 towns are right next to each other. Most of Ginza is laid out in a grid with a major central street running in both the north-south, and east-west directions. Just to the northwest of Yurakucho is the Tokyo International Forum – the elongated bldg. shown in the upper left of the photo above. Yurakucho Station is just south of that, and Ginza is the area in the lower center area of the frame.The Hibiya area is in the upper left corner.
First, the Yurakucho area itself is worth a look. Adjacent to the Hibiya area, both can easily take a day to explore. Both are worth it. The north end of Yurakucho is the gateway to central Tokyo from the south – it’s well worth it to explore this area. See our Yurakucho Superguide for a comple guide to the area.
Tokyo International Forum to the North
Also a must-see is the Tokyo International Forum just to the north of Yurakucho. The TIF has a courtyard to the west with lots of cafés, restaurants, and shops. The buildings to the west are office + hotels. Definitely check the area out. North of that is Tokyo Station. The Forum also hosts the Oedo Antique Market on the 1st + 3rd weekend of every month right in the courtyard.
Yurakucho facing east. Ginza is straight ahead, Yurakucho Station directly behind the camera. The tall square bldg. ahead is MARRIONER GATE – a large shopping complex.Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan is a small shopping center built in the 1970’s.OIOI (pronounced Marui) is a large depato (department store) on the right.
Facing east crossing from Yurakucho into Ginza at MARRIONER GATE.Yurakucho is behind the camera.
Ginza | Nz is between Yurakucho and MARRIONER GATE in Ginza. This photo is facing south at the MARRIONER GATE crossing. MARRIONER GATE is to the east (left).
West side of Yurakucho Station facing east.Pass through the tunnel at the bottom of the frame to get to the east side.Ginza is on the other side of the tall building.
To get to Ginza from Yurakucho cross Sotobori-Dori from any of the side streets to the east. You may want to start at either the north or south end, and criss-cross the Ginza streets in a pattern since they are laid out in a grid. The main center of Ginza – Ginza Crossing and its world-famous Wako Building is down about 3 blocks east at 35°40’17.12″ N 139°45’53.76″ E. If you cross at the south end of Yurakucho near the new Tokyu Plaza around 35°40’20.09″ N 139°45’49.73″ E, you will be at the Wako Bldg. in 3 blocks. A famous corner Nikon (pronounced nee-kon, not nigh-kon) camera store and the Hermes building are on this corner as you cross. 2 blocks to the east is the SEIKO Watch Museum on the left.
Tokyu Plaza is well worth a stop in and of itself – it has a lot of great restuarants on the top floor + a very nice open-air rooftop garden. There is also a huge indoor café on one of the upper floors with floor-to-ceiling windows which provide a spectacular view of Ginza at night.
About 3 blocks southeast of Matsuya Ginza around 35°40’10.59″ N 139°45’53.82″ E is the spectacular new Ginza Six complex. A multi-use mall with shops, restaurants, and other attractions, Ginza Six is worth a stop. It also features a very nice open-air terrace shown below:
Tokyo Square Garden
Just 1 block east of the Yurakucho crossing around 35°40’34.43″ N 139°46’09.47″ E is a bright new complex called Tokyo Square Garden. If you’re in Ginza it’s a must-see. Loaded with new shops, malls, restuarants, and offices, it’s one of Ginza’s up and coming addresses. There is also a WeWork co-working space inside. Check it out.
Food options are endless in Ginza, and much of the fare is ultra-luxury high end restuarants + confectionary stores. There are also wineries, delicacy shops, and even upscale ramen places. Great Sushi places abound. You may want to do some web research before you go to determine which places you want to eat at since there are so many it’s impossible to catalog them all here. There are plenty of good places in Yurakucho as well including the Miami Café, OIOI and LUMINE food floors, and the Matsuya Ginza food basement, which is one of the best in Tokyo. Many of the large depato have great food on their upper floors, which is a common trend in modern Tokyo.
If you explore the backstreets you will find plenty of smaller ramen and other food shops – authentic local Japanese cuisine.
Ginza Sky Lounge
On top of Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan is the Ginza Sky Lounge restaurant – a laid back understated restaurant with a great view overlooking Ginza.
2 blocks east of Yurakucho around 35°40’20.59″ N 139°46’03.08″ E is the deluxe Kit-Kat Chocolatory. For some reason Kit-Kat is deemed a western luxury delicacy all over Japan – not the commodity candy bar it is considered in US supermarkets. There are endless flavors + styles of Kit-Kat in Japan, unlike in the west. If you like chocolate, this shop is a must-see in Ginza. There is also a new monster Kit-Kat store over in Shinjuku across the city. You can buy some of the Japan-themed Kit-Kats online over at yummy bazaar.
Just on the border of Ginza on the west side and Shiodome on the east, there is this little Don Quijote100¥ shop (known to locals simply as Donki). Like most Don Quijotes in Tokyo, they have a wide variety of goods packed into tiny aisles. They also have cheap snacks + cheap coffee. You can get a non-perishable 1 liter bottle of UCC Coffee for $.88 cents. Oddly, this Don Quijote has a wide variety of cheap but good bicycles for sale out front. They even have one made by GM’s Hummer brand. Definitely worth a stop.
Cheap culinary snack delights await you @ Don Quijote Ginza.
Around 35°40’09.81″ N 139°46’03.64″ E, about a block or 2 east of Ginza Crossing is the Kabukiza Theater – one of Japan’s largest, and oldest Kabuki theaters. Kabuki is an ancient form of morality play and has survived to the modern day. There is also a tiny Japanese garden on the theater’s rooftop. Well worth a stop to check out some of traditional Japan. If you want quick, direct access to the theater by subway, take the Metro Hibiya Line to Higash-Ginza Station and exit to the street.
Well that’s it for now. There are endless things to do in Ginza and you can easily spend a few days here. It’s an absolute must-see if you’re in Tokyo.
Facing south on Sotobori-Dori – crossing into Ginza on the left from Yurakucho on the right.Tokyu Plaza Ginza is the tall black building in the distance. The shopping complex on the right is called Ginza | Nz.
Near the Hermes Bldg. shown above is the interesting Ginza Sony Park. There’s a cool little underground museum called Design Museum Box down a staircase at street level right next to the Hermes Bldg. Worth a quick look.
Ikebukuro is a hip quirky hang out spot in central western Tokyo. Smaller than Shibuya or Shinjuku, it’s often overlooked by tourists. Ikebukuro has a small-town fun vibe, yet still feels cosmopolitain enough to be exciting. There is more than plenty to do. In fact, you could spend a few days in Ikebukuro and barely scratch the surface. Around every corner and down every side street is something surprising and interesting. The fact that it’s not overcrowded the way other major areas of Tokyo are only adds to it charm.
The main station is located in the 1st floor + basement of the PARCO depato (department store) in the main station. The Metro lines also exit this station. Just to the south in the SEIBU depato is the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Station. All of them are centrally located in Ikebukuro and are very convenient. There are also several street-level station portals on sidewalks all over the town as shown here:
One of many street-level station entrances.
On the JR Ikebukuro platform, you can purchase a Suica IC card for fares from these machines.
Ikebukuro is centrally laid out with an east, west, north, and south side. The stations are on the main thoroughfare running north-south through the town. The station in the photo above is in the center, the main street is just to the right running north-south, West Gate Park is to the left, center. At the very top center is a huge waste recycling plant with its telltale tall cracking tower.To the east are a dizzying array of side streets with endless shops + restaurants. Just to the east of that out of frame is the Sunshine City complex and 2 Ikebukuro parks (Minami-Ikebukuro Park).
View from the WTC building in west Tokyo facing west: Ikebukuro is the small city in the distance on the right, Shinjuku several miles to the south is on the left in the distance.Just behind Shinjuku, barely visible is Mt. Fuji.
The town is roughly divided into east, west, and north ends. The south end holds a few interesting spots, but as soon as you leave the main area east of the station, it’s mostly residential. You can get from the east side to the west and vice versa by passing directly through the center of JR Ikebukuro Station.
West Gate Park
At the West Gate Exit is a popular meeting spot called West Gate Park. The area was also the title of a popular dorama (drama) TV series in Japan. Also in West Gate Park just to the north of the west gate is a JR Tourist Information Office – which has English-speaking staff. You can also reserve bus tours in the office.
West Gate Park is a large area to the west of the station. There are all sorts of restaurants, cafés, shops, and other attractions. About a block further east are a Bic Camera annex and a block beyond that a OIOI (pronounced Marui) depato. In the OIOI is a very nice Seria 100¥ shop.
Just to the south of West Gate Park is a new outdoor performing art center called Global Ring. It was finished in 2020. There is also a café here. Further south is the Metropolitain Theater. 1 block south of that is a very nice MOS Burger.
Also in West Gate Park is a street entrance to the oddly named underground shopping mall Hope Center.
To the north of West Gate Park are endless backstreets. If you head northeast in this direction, you come to a small tunnel north of the station which heads to the east side of the town.
Also on the west side, a few blocks north of the OIOI is the world-famous Sakura Hostel – which although spartan is known for its dirt cheap prices, and fairly clean atmosphere. If you want to stay cheap in Ikebukuro, this is your spot. Sakura Hostel is also known for its huge outdoor seating area for guests. You don’t get much in the way of ammenities – most beds are mere bunks in shared rooms, but for the incredibly cheap price, it’s worth it.
Ikebukuro is also home to some of the largest electronics shops in Tokyo – including Bic Camera, Yamada Denki, and Sofmap.
Just south of West Gate Park is a shopping area called Esola. Check out the Coffee RoastersLaboratory on the ground floor. There’s also another Metro entrance here. Just beyond Esola is the LUMINE complex and MOS Burger.
Here are a few photos from the west side:
Ikebukuro West Gate Park. The JR East Travel Service Center is straight ahead.
JR East Travel Service Center
Just south of West Gate Park facing north. Turn left at the next street for OIOI City and the Sakura Hostel.Flip 45 degrees left from this image and you will see Global Ring on your left:
Facing west, the Metropolitan Theater is the bldg. with the sloped roof straight ahead.The 2nd Bic Camera Annex is the bldg. on the far right.Global Ring is on the far left.Global Ring was built on the real former Ikebukuro West Gate Park – an area which previously had a large fountain. Now the entire area has been replaced by Global Ring.
Facing southeast from the Global Ring area. The Esola complex is straight ahead.The MOS Burger is 2 blocks to the right.
Just beyond Global Ring is the Esola complex (left) and LUMINE (right). LUMINE + TOBU complexes have excellent food courts on their top floors. Don’t miss ’em.LUMINE was formerly called Metropolitain Plaza.
Inside the station.
On the JR Saikyo Line platform behind the PARCO depato.
OIOI City west of the station facing west. Turn right here for the Sakua Hostel.
The west Bic Camera Annex a block east of OIOI City.
East Side – Endless Shopping + Restaurants + Sunshine City
The east side of the station is considerably more interesting. Not only is there a main street which runs north to south which has a myriad of shops, cafés, and resturants on it, but there’s an entire area east of that that is really interesting (Sunshine60 Street).
There’s PARCO + SEIBU depatos, and Bic Camera and other denki (electronics) shops on the north end of the street, but the south end of the street also has lots of coffee shops + restaurants.
To the far east of Sunshine60 Street is a huge skyscraper and complex called Sunshine City. The area’s big attraction is Sunshine 60 – which until recently was one of the tallest skyscrapers in Japan. It has a top-floor observatory not to be missed. There is also a western Mailboxes Etc. CMRA on one of the top floors if you need to get a local mailbox or mail anything to the west.
Hidden away in the basement of Sunshine City is a vast mult-floor shopping mall. You can spend hours in here – and it’s so huge it’s easy to get lost. There is also another entrance to the mall on the east end of the major side street next to the the Tokyu Hands store.
As a historical footnote many locals believe Sunshine 60 to be haunted because after World War 2, the Japanese imperial army general Tojo was executed there. Several Japanese have committed suicide by jumping from its roof. There is also a very nice small park next to the area where you can kick back and chill. Sunshine City is around 35°43’45.15″ N 139°43’05.09″ E.
Entrance to Sunshine City Annex on Sunshine60 Street.
To get to Sunshine60 Street, head south from JR Ikebukuro Staiton, turn left (east) at 35°43’48.45″ N 139°42’46.56″ E 2 blocks down, follow the sidewalk as it winds east, then cross at the Milky Way Café and head straight. Make note of this sidewalk and the small alley off it to the left for later below
This puts you right into Sunshine60 Street – the main shopping street. As you come to the end, turn right, then left again for Sunshine City. There is also an entrance to the underground mall part of Sunshine City about a block before the final right turn. You can’t miss it – it has a huge sign on the front of the bldg. next to the Tokyu Hands depato also on the right.
Main street in east Ikebukuro. Meiji-Dori runs north-south. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left.The white bldg. with the red sign on the left is Bic Camera.Just to the southeast is Yamada Denki (LABi). SEIBU + PARCO depatos are on the far left of the frame above the stations. The street to the left of Bic Camera leads to dozens of other interesting side streets on the north side of town.
A closer view of the PARCO bldg. on the east side. The JR station entrance is at the bottom of the bldg.
There’s also a Becker’s burger place just at the east exit of the station.
SEIBU Ikebukuro Station just south of the JR entrance above.
If you head down this street just across from the JR east station exit, you will discover a wealth of interesting small side streets.
Entrance to Sunshine60 Street @ the Milky Way Café, right.At the end of this street turn right for Sunshine City.
New South Ikebukuro Park
Around 35°43’41.35″ N 139°43’17.74″ E – just east of Sunshine City is brand new SouthIkebukuro Park. Completed in 2020, this stunning new park offers a huge green lawn, a café on the north end, and a large bike parking lot to the south. It’s just 1 block east of Sunshine City so if you’re in the area, check it out:
The underground bike park just to the south of SouthIkebukuro Park.
Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP)
In the basement of the station and under the east side of the streets is a small mall called Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP). There are portals to ISP in the station just before the east exit, as well as one on the sidewalk outside the station and in the middle of the crosswalk facing east. Most of ISP is underground.
About 1/2 way down the main side street to the east is another new complex called Q plaza. Well worth a stop. Lots of good cafés, and a CAPCOM store + café on the 4th floor. The sides streets all around this area are charming to explore and worth a walk. Plan on spending a whole day in the area.
There are endless food options around Ikebukuro. 2 really awesome places are Darcy’s Beer + Burger and Coffee Valley. Darcy’s has a triple-decker hamburger that is out of this world for $12. Not to be missed. We did a review of both places above. There are also no less than threeMr. Donut places around town – 2 on the West Gate Park side, and 1 older one tucked away on a backstreet on the east side. Not particularly healthy, but delicious. There are also endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places, and of course, the aforementioned MOS Burger. There’s also a Tully’s Coffee in Q plaza as well as a nice café called Peace and Lamb.
Japan’s food courts are a throwback to 1950’s-style dining. There are some on the top floors of depatos such as TOBU + SEIBU, and there are other standalone bldgs. which are all restaurants top to bottom. There’s no lack of good dining in Ikebukuro. In particular the food court in TOBU Ikebukuro is awesome – there’s a really great Hawaiian burger place, and lots of other restuarants. PARCO also has a food court + rooftop beer garden. Of course there are endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places everywhere. As well as fast food.
TOBU also has a basement Depachika (short for “depato basement”) – a huge food floor below ground level which is especially good. Here you can get everything from seafood, to packaged gift food, to deserts. If you’re in Ikebukuro definitely check out the food basement in TOBU.
Food court on top floor of TOBU on the west side.
Don’t worry – walking 15 miles/day sightseeing in Tokyo and you’ll burn it all off.
Pancakes – The New Tokyo Craze
A new food craze has hit Tokyo – pancake shops. They’re everywhere. In Ikebukuro there are several good ones but the 2 best are A Happy Pancake and
Around 35°43’48.11″ N 139°42’46.90″ E at the small side street mentioned above, turn left (north) into a small alley and a few stores down you’ll come to A Happy Pancake. This small underground shop has great food. Careful going down the stairs to the basement: they’re steep and there’s no handrail.
In the SEIBU depato a few blocks to the west is Rainbow Pancake – also a must-visit. Both are excellent, and worth the trip. All-in-all we would rate AHP best, but it’s up to you to decide on taste. There is also another AHP in Omotosando.
If it’s pancakes you want, Tokyo’s got ’em. Lots of ’em.
There are lots of other pancake places all over Tokyo. Get ready to eat.
Micro Food Stalls
All over Tokyo in stations + in other places you’ll see these tiny little food places everywhere. Most stations have them, and Ikebukuro Station is no different.
The Japanese love contractions and in this case “Press Butter Sand” means “Pressed Butter Sandwich”.
There are also lots of tiny micro food trucks in Tokyo – such as this crepe truck in Ikebukuro.
On the east-side backstreets is this great Italian restaurant – Palermo.
Just next to the oldest of the Mr. Donuts – on the east side – is a small concrete park with lots of food. One of the best places among them is the Saikyou Butter Coffee Shop.
On the north side the streets are a little less lively but interesting nonetheless. To the northeast just a few blocks is a small concrete park surrounded by restaurants and a large performing arts theather – Brilla Hall. This entire area is being renovated as of 2021. There are endless small side streets in the north end worth exploring. There are in fact, 2 more major north-south streets in the north area full of shops. Both entrances are around 35°43’54.13″ N 139°42’34.12″ E.
More Discount Stores: Don Quijotes + CAN ⭑ DO
Aside from Seria, there are several other discount stores in Ikebukuro. There are 2 Don Quijotes: 1 just northwest of the station, and another just east of the east exit right across the street. There is also a CAN ⭑ DO discount store just south down the street on the east side. Both Don Quijote + CAN ⭑ DO have some good cheap food selections + snacks.
The Don Quijote just to the northwest of the station.
The east-side Don Quijote across from the station is huge. The food basement is quite good.
Meiji-Dori to Itabashi
You can also walk north on Ikebukuro’s main street on the west side – Meiji-Dori a few miles north to the small town of Itabashi.
There are plenty of good hotels in Ikebukuro which won’t break the bank. We recommend checking agoda.com for rates. One of the best, of course, is the APA hotel, which is very clean + upscale but under $70/night in most cases. It is however a bit further to the northwest but can be easily walked from in a few blocks. There is the aforementioned Sakura Hostel, which is great if you’re on a budget. There is also the Hotel Metropolitan – which is upscale and very good, but much more expensive at around $130/night. There is also Sunshine City Prince Hotel.
The weird cat obsession that is gripping Japan can be found at several cat cafés all over the city, but in Ikebukuro the place for cats is Nekobukuro Cat’s House (ねこぶくろ) – a petting zoo for cats located on the eighth floor of the IkebukuroTokyu Hands store. If you’re into cats check out their site at https://nekobukuro.com/Tokyu Hands is just at the end of the east side street in the small Sunshine City building across from Victoria’s Sports around 35°43’48.45″ N 139°43’00.02″ E.
Victoria’s Sports across the street from Sunshine City.
Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas and is a thrill to visit. A must-see. There’s so much to do here plan on spending a couple of days. There are endless places to eat + things to do, yet the area is not so huge that’s it’s overwhelming like some other parts of Tokyo.
Facing north just outside the east JR station exit.
Night view from West Gate Park facing south. Global Ring is in the center.
Inside LUMINE complex.
At the north end of West Gate Park is this side street. If you turn right here, then left, you’ll find the entrance to the small tunnel which leads to the east side of the station:
Turn right at the tunnel entrance a few yards ahead to get to the east side.
As you exit the tunnel on the east side, you’ll see the PARCO building shown here. If you turn south from here, you’ll see the main larger PARCO bldg. and just beyond that, the east entrance to JR Ikebukuro Station.
Northeast side at night. Yamada Denki is the tall bldg. on the right.
An early morning West Gate Park tourist breakfast: some ham, a few croissants, a conbini (convenience store) hot dog, a BOSS Coffee and a pint of milk. Rice-fed cows’ milk in Japan tastes like a bowl of Rice Chex cereal, unlike milk in the west.Contrary to popular perception in the west, you can eat pretty cheap in Japan, although it’s not optimally healthy.
View of Shinjuku from the roof of Sunshine City. Just beyond, barely visible in the distance is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama 40 miles to the southwest.
Inside Sunshine 60’s observatory – which affords spectacular views of Tokyo in all directions.Looking out the window shown here to the right provides a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree.
An epic panorama facing west. On the far right is Ikebukuro to the north, the tallest bldg. of which is Sunshine 60, and Shinjuku on the far left to the south. If you look closely, the farthest left bldg. on the main skyline is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building (Yoyogi is just south of Shinjuku).The large white object in the right center is Tokyo Dome to the east. You can walk to all 3 areas, but the distance from one to another is quite a hike and would take a couple of hours.
Phone map of Ikebukuro. The station is in the center.
Facing northeast. The station is out of view to the left (west). Turn right at the bottom of the photo for the main side street with shops. A Happy Pancake is just down a tiny alley next to the brown bldg. on the right side of the frame.The first Bic Camera Annex is just to the left of the alley.Yamada Denki is the large white bldg. on the far left of the frame. If you head down the side street to the right of the next bldg. you’ll find Coffee Valley. The older Mr. Donut is also down here. The small green-roofed object in the lower left corner is the entrance to the undergorund Ikebukuro Shopping Park (ISP).
The end of the side street on the east side. Head right (south) here to get to Sunshine City.
Another view of the Milky Way Café, left, facing south.Turn left here for Sunshine Cityand the main side street.Heading straight ahead to the south eventually brings you to Shinjuku.
YA view of the Milky Way Café.
Just left of the Mily Way Café facing north.
Tokyu Hands entrance just next to the Sunshine City Annex.
The ISP street entrance just east of the JR station.
Entrance to another side street in Ikebukuro which runs north-south.
Entrance to Yamada Denki, on the east side. The small yellow boxes are Gatchapon dispensers – which sell very popular small toys.
A large NAMCO arcade.
Another view of Q plaza.
Hidin’ on the backstreets.
Looking back west from the east end of the long side street. The station is straight ahead. The entrance to Tokyu Hands and Sunshine City is on the left.
If you turn left (south) at the previous photo you’ll come upon K-BOOKS book + game stores. Sunshine 60‘s main complex is down a few blocks on the left. If you head further down, across the street from Sunshine 60 on the corner, you’ll find a great cheap coin locker on the corner:
Mitsukoshimae is a subway station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza (G12) or Hanzomon (Z09) Lines. It is named after the depato (department store) that sits over it called Mitsukoshi. Mitsukoshi is one of the oldest depato in Japan and dates back over a century. The building itself has an architecture + decor from that era. It also has a tax-free shop.
Aside from the store itself there are all kinds of things to do in the area (known as Nihonbashi) named after the Nihonbashi Bridge at the north end of the town. The original bridge dates back to 1609. In fact, the Nihonbashi Bridge is the central point (Kilometre zero) from which all other road distances are measured in Tokyo.
The area plays prominently in medevil Japan’s history with many Ukiyo-e prints by famed artist Hiroshige from the 1800’s still in existence from that era.
The Nihonbashi area is just north of central Tokyo’s Marunouchi and Otemachi areas. You can easily walk here from Tokyo Station which is to the south. You can also exit OtemachiStation on the Hanzomon (Z09) Line + head north. If you have a whole day to spend you could sightsee around Tokyo Station, then walk north to Otemachi, then north to Nihonbashi (although that would be a very full day since there is a lot to do in each area).
Just to the north of the bridge is a small information booth which is worth a stop:
The most interesting thing about the Nihonbashi area is simply how immaculately spotless it is – maybe even more so than Ginza to the south, and the Tokyo Station area. Streets here are so clean it’s hard to believe a city this size has the ability to keep any area so spotless.
There are endless things to do in the area. The station has a mixed use area with shops + restaurants, and the streets are lined with both too. You can walk and explore for hours and not get bored.
Mitsukoshi is the main attraction and it has several floors of shops, food, restaurants, and other interesting places, but its food basement (Deepchika) is perhaps the most interesting. Here you can get all kinds of foods + luxury delicacies of all kinds. Plan to spend an hour in the basement at a minimum.
Mitsukoshi at sunset facing south.The groaning city in the gathering dark.
The store also has a special card for overseas visitors which gives you 5% off all purchases. There is also a brand new Bic Camera store in Mitsukoshi.
Mitsukoshi south entrance facing north at Christmas.
After Mitsukoshi, the other big attraction in Nihonbashi is the COREDO mixed use development. The complex sits above the station and its first floor is inside the station bldg. But there are threeCOREDO bldgs. and you can spend hours exploring them all – possibly even days.
1 block to the west of COREDO is Mitsui Shopping Park Urban. Well worth a look. There are lots of shops + cafés, and restaurants here – some with outdoor seating.
Chuo-Dori is the main street that runs through Nihonbashi and the COREDO complexes are on either side. Chuo-Dori runs north-south and bends west @ Nihonbashi, then north through Kanda and into Akihabara. Running south it takes you to Maronuchi and Tokyo Station. But there are side streets as well and every side street has something of interest. Shops abound. In the center of the multi-building COREDO complex there is an open-air part of the street that is blocked off to traffic which has dozens of nice restaurants + shops you can visit. A great place for a walk and a definite must-see.
Cool shops abound on Chuo-Dori.
Lots of good hotels abound in the area, many with entrances to the station in their basements or right outside on the sidewalk. By far the best hotel in the area is the Mandarin Oriental, just across the street from MitsukoshiDepato. This is a 5-star hotel and it will cost you a pretty penny to stay here but the luxury + experience are out of this world. From the upper floors of the hotel you get a spectacular view of downtown central Tokyo to the south, and Tokyo Sky Tree to the east.
Mitsui Memorial Museum
Also nearby is the Mitsui Memorial Museum – well worth a stop this museum has traditional prints, paintings, and ceramics.
Directions: Directly connected to Nihonbashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tozai Line, or the Toei Subway Asakusa Line, a three-minute walk from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Hanzomon Line, or a six-minute walk from Tokyo Station on JR Lines.
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.