Sugamo

Name: Sugamo

Kind: Town/City

Location: 35°44’31.93″ N 139°43’43.02″ E

Stations: Toei Sugamo Station, JR Sugamo Station Yamanote Line

Free Wifi: Yes

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? For a quick look, or on the way to Itabashi.

Updated 2/16/2021

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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).

Access

Unfortunately there is no Metro subway stop at Sugamo Station. You’ll have to either take the JR Yamanote Line or the Toei Mita Line. The closest main area to Sugamo is Ikebukuro to the west, or Tokyo Dome City (TDC) to the south, but on foot it’s a bit of a hike. On bicycle it’s a quick ride, and there are bike lanes part of the way, but you’ll need to make a short right-turn jog on Hakusan Dori (see below) on bike or you’ll get lost and end up on Old Hakusan Dori to the east which runs away from TDC. The other nearby area is Itabashi to the north several miles from Sugamo Station. Itabashi and Ikebukuro are only 2 miles apart and walkable. You can also get to both on the Yamanote Line or Saikyo Line. If you’re on bike, the entire length of Rt. 17 is cruisable in non-rush hours. See our post on bike cruising from Itabashi all the way through Sugamo to TDC. You can also get to/from Itabashi on the Mita Line at stop I17 – Shin-Itabashi. There is also a Nishi-sugamo Station (I16) further north nearer to Itabashi than to Sugamo. At Nishi-sugamo Station you can also catch the Toden Arakawa Line Tram – better known to locals as the Sakura Tram.

Area Layout

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.

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JR Sugamo Station facing south towards TDC. APA Sugamo Ekimae is just behind the camera to the left.

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APA Sugamo Ekimae facing south. The station is just ahead 2 blocks.

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Facing south on Hakusan Dori just south of the station. TDC is straight ahead.

Features

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 left around 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.

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Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street with its charming shops facing north. Well worth a stroll.

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street approaching Itabashi.

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Rikugien Gardens


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Approaching Rikugien Gardens, on the right. Just ahead is the small town of Komagome, just east of Sugamo.

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 HotelAPA Komagome. See our post on Komagome for more about the town. It’s worth a quick look.

Hotels

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.

Additional Photos

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The station at night facing north.

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Arriving at TDC on Hakusan Dori from the north.

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Hakusan Dori and the area around TDC actually have some nice bike lanes – if there are no delivery vehicles parked in them.

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Cruising south on Hakusan Dori facing southwest at sunset.

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Beck’s Coffee near the station. The Japanese word for coffee is coheé.

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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.

Courtesy @Mohejin_Japan

The covered shopping street on the west side of Hakusan Dori. Note the Toei Subway entrance on the left.

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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.

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The street to the east just south of the MOS Burger leads to Rikugien Gardens.

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A beautiful fall sunset in Sugamo facing west.

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The right split at Old Hakusan Dori heading south from Itabashi. Don’t miss this jump to the right side of the street or you’ll end up way off course and miss TDC.

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Waiting @ the MOS Burger on the way to Komagome. Turn left @ the next intersection for Rikugien Gardens.

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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.

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There is also this small guitar school just north of the gardens.

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Heading north out of Sugamo on Hakusan Dori to Itabashi in late fall.

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The huge temple north of Komagome – eerily silent near midnight.

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

The Sakura Tram near Itabashi.

LINKS

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

https://tokyo-tokyo.com/Sugamo.htm

Sugamo Station – GaijinPot Study

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nishi-sugamo_Station

Tokyo Dome City – Part 1: Itabashi->Tokyo Dome: on Bike

Sugamo | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

Tokyo Travel: Sugamo

Sugamo Area Guide | Tokyo Cheapo

Things to Do near Sugamo Station

APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae

Sugamo metro station – Metro Line Map

https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/teien/en/rikugien/access.html

Itabashi | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

VIDS

Get lost in Akabane

Name: Akabane

Kind: Town

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°46’47.87″ N 139°43’22.99″ E

Station: JR Akabane Sta. on JR Saikyo Line

Worth it? Yep.

Updated 2/24/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

©2019-2020 tenmintokyo.com

Akabane is another fun, charming small Japanese town in northwest Tokyo. A nice short day trip, it sits just south of Saitama Prefecture in northwest Tokyo. Its train station is the 1st stop on the JR Saikyo Line with other notable stops to the south: Itabashi, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Omiya.

Be sure to check out the town square right outside Akabane Station. There are also very nice hotels right next to the station and even a western-style Denny’s. The lobby of the hotel Denny’s is in also has a 7-11 ATM which accepts some foreign bank + debit cards.

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©2019-2020 tenmintokyo.com

The newly remodled JR Akabane Station

The JR Akabane Station has just been rebuilt and is very nice. Lots of shops and restaurants right in the station itself. Lots more just outside the west and east exists.

Akabane is 1 stop north of Jujo and 2 stops north of Itabashi on the Saikyo JR line. It’s easy to get to from Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Ikebukuro: take the Yamanote Line north from Shibuya, Harajuku, or Shinjuku, then get off at Ikebukuro Station and change to the Saikyo Line headed north. Akabane is 2 stops north of Itabashi on the Saikyo Line and 4 stops north of Ikebukuro.

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West exit, JR Akabane Station.

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South of the East Exit – there’s also a large Family Mart here.

There’s even a Mister Donut at the east exit: leave the station and turn right – you can’t miss it.

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Decisions, decisions...

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Careful – this can get dangerous real fast.

There’s more usual western fast food, and coffee in the area. But the real treats are the fine dining restaurants located on the upper floors of buildings overlooking the square. Give any one of them a try:

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There are 2 handy spots just to the north of the west exit: a bank of coin lockers where you can stash your stuff for a few bucks – and a free public WiFi spot. Go out of the west exit, turn left, cross the street, then turn left again. Cross the next intersection and immediately turn right – both the coin lockers + WiFi spot are just on your left.

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©2019-2020 tenmintokyo.com

After dark, visit Akabane Ichibangai alley – which dates back to the turn of the 20th century and survived World War 2 air raids intact. Locals pour into bars and tiny restaurants here. There’s an endless variety of local food.

Just across from the station is a long covered shopping arcade that is worth a look.

Aeonbike Akabane

There’s a also a huge AEONBike bike shop on the side streets of Akabane around 35°46’46.24″ N 139°43’29.54″ E.

〒115-0045 Tokyo, Kita City, Akabane, 2 Chome−3−8

ダイエー赤羽店別館1F
+81 3-3901-0701

Open until 9:00 PM

Department Stores + Arcades

There’s also a SEGA arcade, a UNIQLO and ABC Mart on the west side of the station.

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©2019-2020 tenmintokyo.com

There’s also a huge Ito Yokado depato just across from the UNIQLO shop.

Bivio Near the Station

Just at the southwest side of the station is a multi-use complex connected to Ito Yokado called Bivio. It’s a small-scale shopping area but worth a quick walk though.

Under the Tracks + Beans

Under the main station tracks is a little shopping arcade called Beans. Worth a stop if you have time:

At the south end of the city – away from the square is a great little cafe called Nine Tea. Worth a stop. From the west exit, head one block east, then south.

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Nine Tea

Also check out the huge Kyu-Furukawa Gardens.

One of the first Walmarts to open in Japan is to the east of the station – and they seem intent on putting traditional Japanese depatos such as Seiyu out of business.

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It’s also easy to get lost in Akabane. There’s a long road which rings the town and if you walk far enough on it, you can almost end up at JR Jujo Station to the south.

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Walk far enough east + south – you’ll end up in Jujo. It’s a good idea to have a cell phone or GPS device available at all times in case you get lost.

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Some areas in Japan are finally starting to install bike lanes – something long overdue. This one is just to the south west of JR Akabane Station.

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There’s also a large Catholic Church built right after World War 2 to the east of the station. Its co-founder, Saint Maximillian Colby died in a German concentration camp.

Links

https://www.gotokyo.org/en/destinations/northern-tokyo/akabane/index.html

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

https://www.gotokyo.org/en/destinations/northern-tokyo/akabane/index.html

https://digjapan.travel/en/blog/id=12259

VIDS

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhnLc8k6Ebk&feature=share