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.
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 JRSaikyo 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.
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.
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.
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 + 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.
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 Supermarketalong 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) Sugamo Jizodori Shopping Street.
Let’s take these 1-by-1:
East Square + 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 Lawsonconbini at the square where you can get some food to take back to the hotel/square, although eating in public is frowned on by the Japanese in general. There’s a also a new small public toilet in the square.
If you head right outside the east square, there are lots of side streets + 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 Martconbini. If you go farther east to the next main north-south street and turn right, you can get to Ikebukuro in less than 2 miles.
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.
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.
More nice local restaurants and shops on the east side.
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.
West Square and Streets
To the west of the station is another central square, with side streets with lots of shops, restaurants, 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.
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.
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.
The west square at night. The Maruju Café on the corner is quite good.
Another restaurant on the backstreets on the west side.
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.
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 PerconaBank 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.
Shopping street entrance. Nakasendo Hwy is just on the left. This is facing northwest.
Nakasendo Hwy facing west.There are also sidewalks for peds and bikes.
There are plenty of nice cafés along the street you can visit.
There are all sorts of old interesting things to see along the shopping street.In this case, an old Japan Post residential mailbox.
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.
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 + walkable in a few hours. On bike, 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 – but sometimes delivery trucks will park in the new bike lane – so be careful.
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).
There are 3 main areas on the way: central shops and sidewalk to Sugamo, Sugamo area + 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 Nakasendo Hwy 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:
This part goes on for quite a way – keep going.
After a while you’ll come into an area with more shop/gas stations/food/retail:
Keep going – head past this + just keep heading south.
After a while you’ll come to a similar area with a MOS Burger 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-Doriwhich will lead you away from TDC. We show both below:
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.At the end of that street is world-famous Rikugien Gardens (See links + vids below).
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
Well, you made it. 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.
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.