Komagome is a small town in northwest Tokyo in between Tokyo Dome City to the south and Itabashi to the north. It’s on the JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro Namboku Line. There’s not a lot to do in the town, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Perhaps the town’s most interesting feature is Rikugien Gardens(see below). The town also has a small lively nightlife backstreet area down a hill below the station away from the main part of the town. Its sister city Sugamo is just to the west.
There is also a small bank of coin lockers inside the station for around $4 each.
Central Komagome. The station is lower center left. The hill down to the backstreet area is the red-grey-lined street to the upper right of that. The alleyway area is right center. Rt. 455 runs north-south through the town. The APA Hotel is at the upper left corner to the northwest.Rikugien Gardens is just to the lower left out of view.Up is north.
The main feature of Komagome is its mainstreet – Rt. 455 – which runs north-south through the town. At the south end of the town is Rikugien Gardens (see below). There is also a back alley area down the hill behind the station (also see below).
Rt. 455 – the central road through Komagome facing south. The station is just down on the left.The APA Hotel is just to the right, out of frame.
The central street through Komagome: Rt. 455.
The center of town facing south on Rt. 455. There’s a large conbini (convenience store) across from the station on the right.
Good cafés abound in Komagome. Be sure to check out the Niki Bakery + Cafe a few blocks south on Rt. 455 on the left.
Facing west south of the station on Rt. 455 leads to the crosswalk shown below. Just to the left on the corner across the street is the entrance to Rikugien Gardens – a must see. Admission is 300¥-400¥ but well worth it. The gardens are huge and you can spend all day there looking at the lake and all the plants and trees. Also note the “31” (Baskin Robbins) just to the right. For some reason the Japanese call Baskin Robbins“31” – all because the 31 is more prominent on signage – and most likely because more Japanese know the western decimal numeral system than know full English.
Crossing to Rikugien Gardenson the left (out of view). As a footnote, if you head west down the side street shown here, after a few blocks you come to Komagome’s sister city, Sugamo. See our full post on Sugamo for more info.
If you’re willing to walk about a mile further north on Rt. 455 and back, around 35°44’34.58″ N 139°44’45.66″ E there are also the Kyū-Furukawa Gardens and an old museum called Otani Museum – both are worth a look for a little bit more of a hike. A mile further north beyond that on 455 is Oji Station, which is also on the Metro Namboku Line. Also in Oji is Ōji Jinja Shrine.
Komagome Ginza – The Hidden Nightlife Alley
Just down a hill to the left of the station entrance is a hidden backstreet area called Komagome Ginza which comes alive at night with restuarants, shops, bars, and pachinko parlors. To get there, head down the street shown below just left of the station. At the bottom take the first right on a tiny side street. The alley area is just on the left. You can also get to it by traversing down to the bottom level of the station from inside and exit on the left (north entrance). The alleys are well-lit at night with white LED lights and make for a fascinating evening stroll. There are plenty of good restuarants. There is also a huge free bike parking lot just at the lower exit to the station.
Head down this hill and turn right at the bottom for the hidden alley area.
Heading down the hill.At the bottom, turn right for a tiny side street leading to:
Komagome Ginza – the nightlife area entrance and front of the Three Seven pachninko parlor.
A stroll through the nightlife area next to the Three Seven pachninko parlor.
One of many great restaurants on the backstreet alley area.
There are several good low-cost hotels in the area. The obvious choice is the APA Komagome a few blocks north of the station. During off-season you can get a nice room for around $60-$70/night. APA hotels are spotless, affordable, conveniently located, quiet (they have soundproof windows), and easy. They usually make your trip much easier. APA has a chain of these hotels all over Japan.
APA Komagome lobby.
Typical APA hotel room – very small, but clean, usually with a small desk, and large TV. Most also have a micro-refrigerator as well.
About 1.5 miles south on 455 from Komagome Station is another station on the Namboku Line called Hon-Komagome Station (N13) around 35°43’29.15″ N 139°45’14.06″ E. You can also walk the entire distance on 455 south. Sandwiched in between this walk and Sugamo to the west is the world HQ of Pioneer Corporation around 35°43’44.71″ N 139°44’50.29″ E (just south of Rikugien Gardens in fact).
Also just to the west of the station a few blocks is Toyo University (incredibly, in a rare Tokyo oddity, there is a gigantic COCO’s restaurant right across the street from the university at 35°43’25.99″ N 139°45’07.10″ E).
Just north of Hon-Komagome Station is Josenji Temple around 35°43’32.86″ N 139°45’11.26″ E – it’s fairly small without a large grounds but might be worth a look if you’re walking.
Well that’s it for now – enjoy a walk or ride around Komagome. It’s a nice little day trip and worth a look.
Another view of the front of the station.
The large bike lot at the bottom of the station.
The lower rear entrance to the station down the hill.
North up Rt. 455 is this large wooden temple with interesting architecture. Worth a stop.
While it’s currently closed because of lockdown, a new Nana’s Green Tea opened in Ueno in northeast Tokyo. It’s in the northwest side of the Marui (OIOI) bldg. near the Metro station around 35°42’35.99″ N 139°46’31.99″ E
Yurakucho is a very small tiny area in central Tokyo sandwiched in between Yurakucho Station to the west, and Ginza to the east. The area is tiny – just one major square with an array of shops, restaurants, and bldgs. around it. There’s a Bic Camera store to the northwest of the station, and just north of that, the Tokyo International Forum, which also contains = Mitsuo Aida Museum =, a calligraphy museum.
The main small central area is around 35°40’28.54″ N 139°45’43.25″ E and is to the east of Yurakucho Station. You can also cut through the station’s open passages to the west side on ground level. The Bic Camera is just to the north on the west side. Along the east side of the station at ground level is a long row of restaurants and shops. At the very north end is a Doutour coffee shop, and past it a small tunnel leading to a hidden side street lined with fabulous restaurants (see below). To the southeast end of the station on the east side is a huge LUMINE + OIOI (pronounced Marui) shopping complex. If you slip past it to the south along the tracks, you’ll come to another shopping complex called Ginza 5 Five.
To the east across the street is Ginza | Nz– another shopping complex, and beyond that to the east, the gateway to world-famous Ginza. Most of this is described below.
In the station, head for the east exit – which puts you smack in the town center facing east towards Ginza.
Central Tokyo facing west. The Imperial Palace is the green area above. Tokyo Station is in the center at the bottom. The Tokyo International Forum is the long small slender bldg. on the left. Yurakucho is just south (left) of that, out of frame.
Overhead view. Up is north. Yurakucho is in the center. Imperial Palace and Hibiyabori Moat is to the upper left out of view. Marunouchi is at the top out of view. Ginza and Maronnier Gate are to the lower right. The LUMINE/OIOI complex is lower center. The small central square is just above that. Upper right center is Tokyo International Forum – its long courtyard on its west side is full of great restaurants and cafés.The small bldg. just south of the pink bldg. is Tokyu Kotsu Kaikan which has the rotating Ginza Sky Lounge restaurant on top.
A small Koban (police box) with a pointed roof facing north into Ginza on the left. Yurakucho is just behind the huge LUMINE bldg. on the left.Just up the street to the right is MARRIONER GATE – the gateway to Ginza. Ginza | Nzruns up the left side of the street.Even in this huge metropolis, the streets are spotless.
LUMINE complex facing northwest. Yurkucho is just behind it. Ginza 5 Five is just below. You can pass through the 2 large bldgs. at ground level to get to YurkuchoStation.
Yurakucho as it appeared about 20 years ago – 2001.Back then, SEIBU, not PARCO occupied the large buildings on the south side.This photo is facing northwest at sunset.The bldg. on the left no longer exists.
Facing south back towards YurkuchoStation which is down on the right. A row of shops is on the right. The large OIOI complex is on the left, and behind that, LUMINE. Left down the street out of view is Ginza | Nz. A few blocks to the east is Ginza.
Facing back the other way (north). Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan is the round bldg. on the right. Ginza is a few blocks to the right (east). The station is just to the left and behind the camera is the OIOI/LUMINE complex. The long slender glass bldg. behind the station is the Tokyo International Forum, and lots of restaurants, shops, and cafés including a Shake Shack and Brooklyn Roasting Company. Also note the large Bic Camera on the left. If you head straight, then left, you will come to an alleyway which leads to a side street of lots of restaurants which runs behind the Bic Camera (see below).If you head straight up this street you’ll come to the small Doutour Café, and past that, the tunnel that leads to the hidden side street with restaurants.You can also cut over to the Bic Camera from here by taking the station tunnels to the left, out of view.
As you exit the station to the east you’ll be in a small square. Here there are roughly 4 areas: 1) a row of restaurants on the left to the north, 2) Doutour and a tunnel north of that, 3) Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan on the east side of the squarejust to the west of Ginza | Nz, and 4) OIOI/LUMINE complex on the south.That’s it. At the base of the OIOI complex there are also a nice handful of restaurants to enjoy.
Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan was built in the 1970’s and it shows. The inside has a very 1970’s-ish retro vibe. There are lots of shops here, a post office, and a large grocery in the basement. On the roof is the Ginza Sky Lounge restaurant and bar.
Oddly, the tiny square is considered one of the best trainspotting places in Tokyo. Shinkansen heading both south and north via Tokyo Station run right on the tracks overhead. If you stand in the square and wait, facing west, you’ll see them:
Yurakucho Station is straight ahead, facing west. Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan is just behind the camera to the right and OIOI/LUMINE is out of view just to the left (south).If you head west through the station tunnels and turn right, you’ll come to the Bic Camera.You can also cut down the tiny alley left next to the lighted buildings on the left to get to Ginza 5 Five.
The west side of the station looking back east at the square on the other side. The Bic Camera is on the left. Pass through the tunnels ahead to get back to the square.
Another view of the west side facing northeast. The 2 pass-through tunnels are onthe left.Ginza Sky Loungeis the round structure on the rooftop on the other side.
The new facadé on the station is complete in 2021.
The Stand coffee joint at the south end of the station on the left.
Ginza | Nz
Just to the west of the center square + station, but before crossing Rt. 405 east into Ginza proper, you’ll find Ginza | Nz – a long row of shops + restaurants which lines 405, which runs north-south. Just to the left out of view is the 1st large gateway shopping center into Ginza – MARRIONER GATE. The last tall bldg. to the south in this photo is the new Tokyu Plaza Ginza which has a great open-air roof garden + lots of restaurants.The LUMINE complex is the tall bldg. in the center.Ginza Sky Lounge is the round bldg. on top, right.Ginza | Nz runs the length of the street back south to the Koban shown in a photo previously.Turning just to the right from the photo above, you’d see the street leading back to the station to the west:
The Doutor is just up this street to the right. Flipping around 180 degrees from this view is MARRIONER GATE to the east:
MARRIONER GATE just to the east of Ginza | Nzand Yurakucho, facing east. Just east down this street is Ginza Six and many other Ginza attractions.Prepare to spend at least one full day walking around Ginza.
Another view at Ginza | Nz facing north.
Heading south past Ginza | Nz on the right you’ll come to Ginza 5 Five – a small shopping mall. Just next to that is the new Tokyu Plaza Ginza which is a must-see:
Ginza 5 Five is on the right. Tokyu Plaza Ginza is the tall black bldg. behind it.This is facing southeast.
Tokyu Plaza Ginza
At the very south end of Yurakucho is a brand new complex called Tokyu Plaza Ginza. This complex is a must see – it has an external escaltor leading into the bldg. which has endless great restaurants. There are upscale places and a really great Hawiian burger place. Also be sure to check the cool dessert place TSUJIRIHEI-HONTEN GINZA out. But the most interesting parts of the complex are the view from the huge indoor bar + café which provide incredible nightime views out over Ginza, as well as a very large open-air rooftop garden. After stopping at Ginza 5 Five, be sure to check out Tokyu Plaza Ginza just across the street.
View of the Hermes Bldg. from the indoor café across the street in Tokyu Plaza Ginza.
The Hidden Restaurant Side Street
At the north end of the station, just at the north end of the Bic Camera bldg. you’ll find the Tokyo International Forum. If you pass through the small tunnel next to the Doutour and turn left (west), you’ll be on this street. You can also get to it by exiting the Bic Camera bldg. at the very north side. But instead of heading straight across the street, head down the small side street just to the right which runs the length of the Forum south to north. Along this street on the right hand side are endless great restaurants of all kinds – dozens of them all neatly packed into a row. At night in Yurakucho, this stroll is a must-see. You can’t go wrong at most of these places and they are full of people every night. The south entrance to the street is around 35°40’32.52″ N 139°45’49.21″ E.
The south tip of the Tokyo International Forum. Instead of heading left into the Forum’s courtyard, head down the hidden side street to the right.This photo is facing north.
The Hidden Restaurant Side Street
Ren Ren Ren Chinese Restaurant
As you come to the north end of the Forum along the hidden side street, you’ll come to a skyscraper across the street. There is an extremely good and upscale Chinese restaurant on the ground floor in the corner called Ren Ren Ren Tokyo. One of the best restaurants in the area if you want Chinese food. Also note this restaurant is just 1 block south of Tokyo Station.
Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
Just 1 block to the west of Ren Ren Ren, is the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum – a huge multi-floor spectacular museum, which is a must-see in the area.
Tokyo Midtown Hibiya
Just a stone’s throw 2 blocks to the west of the station is the newly-opened Tokyo Midtown Hibiya shopping complex which has a spectacular winter illumination every year. Not to be missed.
Yurakucho is a tiny little part of Tokyo but there’s a surprising amount to do within just a few blocks. That and its close proximity to a major station on the Yurakucho Line means you can get quick access to other parts of Tokyo. Yurakucho is well worth a visit for a day or night, or if you plan on seeing Ginza too, several nights. It’s a must-see in Tokyo for any traveller.
Another view of the square facing southeast. The station is on the right. The tall bldg. in the center is the OIOI complex. MARRIONER GATE is just one block down the side street on the left.
Facing south towards Ginza 5 Five between the OIOI bldg. on the left and LUMINE bldg. on the right. The station is to the left.
Another view of the OIOI/ITOCiA complex. The station is straight ahead.
Another night view in the courtyard east of the station.
Looking north into Ginza.
The newly renovated corridor under the tracks. New white LEDs make the area an evening paradise.
The area behind the Tokyo International Forum. Lots of nice restaurants on this street.
Yurakucho Concourse – a small overpass with restaurants.
Another view looking south towards Yurakucho Station. The OIOI is just on the left out of view.
Looking back to the south just east of the station. The station is out of view to the right. The LUMINE complex is just down the small corridor on the center left.
Another hidden side street full of restaurants.
Under the tracks.
The Bic Camera @ night.
Christmas illuminations at dusk in Dec. facing back south towards the OIOI + the entrance to Yurakucho Station, which is down on the right.The small row of restaurants is on the right. The Doutor and small tunnel are just to the right behind the camera.
One of many interesting streets in Ginza.
View from the Forum facing back south. Bic Camera is straight ahead, the station is to the left.
Nagatcho is a small area where the central gov’t in Japan is located. The Federal Diet Bldg. is here, as are assembly offices, and a the Prime Minister’s Office. Most activity in the area is centered around government work, but there is still a lot to see and do here.
Nagatcho is also the eastern gateway to a much more interesting area: Akasaka. We won’t go into Akasaka too much here, but we’ll touch on how to get there and a few interesting tidbits.
Being where the central gov’t is located, there are a lot of ways into Nagatcho: you can take one of the Subway Metro lines listed above, you can cycle, or you can walk. Nagatcho is just to the west of the Imperial Palace + Diet Bldg. and there is a nice sidewalk which runs the length of the palace’s moat (Chidorigafuchi) on the western side (known as the Hanzomon area (due to Hanzomon Gate which dates back centuries and protects the western side of the palace).
Subway lines include Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku, and Ginza Lines. There are lots of station portals at the street level scattered all over the area, but the 3 most important ones are the Akasaka-mitsuke Station on Sotobori Dori around 35°40’34.24″ N 139°44’17.11″ E , Nagatacho Station (just up the street to the north), and the Tameike-sanno Station portal on a side street just behind the Prime Minister’s office. For Tameike-sanno Station, take only the Ginza or Namboku Lines. 2 other notable street-level portals are in the Sanno Park Tower, and in the basement of the Bic Camera store just to the northwest.
In short if you want to see the Diet area, hit the Tameike-sanno Station exit and walk up the street, if you want to see Sotoboto Dori Ave, the Bic Camera, or Akasaka, hit the Akasaka-mitsuke Station exits, or if you want to get to the north side go for any of the north Nagatacho Station exits. Also of particular note is Tokyo Garden Terrace to the north around 35°40’46.30″ N 139°44’13.85″ E, just west down the street from one of the Nagatacho Station exits. Around Christmas/New Year’s Tokyo Garden Terrace is a must-see (we’ll discuss this more below).
Nagatcho + Akasaka sit to the north of Toranomon, east of Roppongi, west of Imperial Palace, and south of Yotsuya.
Underground in a Nagatcho Station exit. Some subway stations in Japan have a decidedly Soviet feel to them.
Prime Minister’s Office viewed from Sotoboto Dori Ave. facing northeast.
Tameike-Sannō Station, and Prime Minister’s office, lower center. To the left out of frame is Akasaka and Sotoboto Dori Ave. the tall bldg. on the left is the Capitol Hotel Tokyu. On the far right are 3 Federal assembly offices. The smaller bldg. in the center is the APA Pride Hotel. This view is facing north.To the lower left out of frame is Sanno Park Tower.Akasaka-mitsuke Station is also out of frame just to the upper left corner.
Nagatcho is a fairly small area. There’s the central gov’t/Diet area, a small area north of that with various gov’t bldgs. and museums, a smaller area east just across from the Imperial Palace, and the area south of the central gov’t which rolls into Akasaka. Not much else, but the area is still interesting. A stroll or bike ride around the central area is interesting, and in the fall spectacular. There are also smaller various shrines (See below), historical points of interest and other things to do. When you’re done exploring the central gov’t area, head north to see Tokyo Garden Terrace Koicho (also see below), and then southwest to see Akasaka and all it has to offer.
If you want to see the Diet area, pop up out of Tameike-sanno Station which puts you just west of it. Akasaka proper is just 2 blocks west. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and Official Residence are on this street. Turn left (east) up a side street for the Diet bldg. One can spend hours just strolling up and down streets in the area.
A must-see area is just out front of the Diet to the west. There are 3 major attractions here: Kensei Memorial Park, a small historical park to the north of that, and further north, the Parliamentary Museum. Kensei Memorial Park has a very nice garden worth a stroll. The main road between the Diet and the palace is Uchibori Dori and is popular with joggers and walkers. In fact, you can circumnavigate the palace 360 degrees around over into Otemachi, Hibiya, and back. The entire distance is spectacular and one of the best walks in Tokyo.
Just to the southeast of Kensei Memorial Park is Kasumigaseki, where more gov’t bldgs. are located – including the HQ for the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is also a Metro station at Kasumigaseki.
Just south of Kasumigaseki is the must-see Hibiya Park. This lush well-kept park is huge with lots to see + do. Not bad for just 1 more block’s walk. Definitely hit it. There is also a very nice German Christmas Market held here every December.
Sanno Park Tower+ NTT DoCoMo HQ
Just to the south of Tameike-sanno Station 2 blocks on the corner of Sotoboto Dori Ave. is a giant skyscraper called Sanno Park Tower. There’s lots to do here. The basement has all kinds of shops + a convenience store. Sanno Park Tower is also home to Japan’s mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo. There are also cafés in the bldg. Just for kicks, you can have a brief thrill riding the massive gleaming glass corporate elevators from the lobby to the top floor. But be warned all floors including the top floor have lots of security guards, and you will not be admitted for any reason without a badge officially obtained in advance. Still, the elevator ride itself is a thrill – the huge glass elevators fly upward at incredible speed, while you watch the ground drop out from under you and their inner workings of cables + huge flywheels spin as you look on. And then in the blink of an eye you’ve been flung 50 stories skyward. Fun – if just for a few moments.
The massive glass elevators inside Sanno Park Tower – as close as you can get to an amusement park ride inside Corporate Japan.
Sanno Park Tower, left looking northeast on Sotobori Dori Ave. Tameike-sanno Station is just up this side street on the right. The Prime Minister’s Office is also just up this street to the right. Capitol Hotel Tokyu and APA Pride hotels are also up this street to the left. Just behind the small red van is a small round glass portal with an elevator inside which takes you down to shop level.
If you exit the Nagatcho Sta exit around 35°40’44.55″ N 139°44’25.63″ E and head just a few blocks west downhill, you’ll come to a major intersection on Sotoboto Dori with a river + Benkei Bridge and a huge office bldg. just to the north. One of the area’s best hidden gems is at the base of this bldg: Tokyo Garden Terrace Koicho.
Hotel choices in the area are endless. The aforementioned Capitol Hotel Tokyu is luxury beyond belief, but it will cost you $400+/night. Clearly the best value in the area is the APA Pride Hotel – which is is very deluxe + clean and in an off-peak time will cost you only around $70/night – unimagineable in the west. It’s right next to Capitol Hotel Tokyu. A definite winner. Hotel Monterey Hanzomon is also very nice, but a bit more expensive + little further north.
If you’re looking for a good capsule, lots of them abound in the area, but a really nice one is First Cabin Akasaka just to the west. There are lots of other hostel + capsule type hotels in the area.
The really cool hotel area is on the hidden small side street just behind the Bic Camera to the north. There are endless hotels here including Centurion Hotel, Granbell Hotel Akasaka, and Kitano Hotel Tokyo. The entrance to this hidden side street is around 35°40’35.15″ N 139°44’12.46″ E. Just across the street from that to the west is the Tokyu Plaza Akasaka Hotel – a huge hotel right at the north end of Akasaka. This is also a mixed-use development with lots of restaurants + shops and a mall. There is also a Metro subway portal just at the entrance to the hidden side street.
The area has lots of great co-working spaces at reasonable rates – most notably a very nice Regus space at Akasaka K Tower.
Just next to the Nagatcho Sta exit around 35°40’44.55″ N 139°44’25.63″ E is a great PMO shared office space. In fact it’s right next to the station exit.
Another very nice cowork space is GRID Nagatcho, which incredibly, is in the same block as PMO..
Smack behind the APA Pride Hotel to the west up on a big hill is Hie Shrine. You can exit the rear of APA Pride + climb the steps to reach the top. On the other side is a massive granite staircase which leads down to Sotoboto Dori Ave. and into Akasaka. The view from the top of the stairs allows you to look to the west, over a massive white Tori Gate, and into Akasaka. From here you can also see the TBS Broadcasting HQ a block away.
View from Hie Shrine facing west into Akasaka. Sotobori Dori Ave. is below. Straight ahead is Akasaka. The bldg. with the round section on top is the TBS HQ. There is also a small Japan Post Office just ahead on the left. On the 1st floor of the orange bldg. is a very nice FamilyMart conbini (convenience store). 1 block ahead on the right is a Tully’s Coffee, and beyond that Akasaka SACAS+ Akasaka Biz Tower (shown in vids below).Since Akasaka is just a stone’s throw from Nagatcho, it’s a must-see in the area.Also down this street just on the right is a huge First Cabin Akasaka capsule hotel.There are all kinds of restaurants and shops on this street + backstreets to the right.
Sanno Matsuri is a traditional Japanese festival held every other year which starts at Hie Shrine and ends later in the afternoon. If you’re in the area when it happens (usually in summer), it’s worth a look.
Dive Into Akasaka
To the west beyond Nagatcho is Akasaka proper. There are 2 main areas to see here: the Akasaka SACAS/Biz Tower area (and the Biz Tower Attrium mall next to it), and the myriad hidden side streets just to the northeast of that. There are some fabulous photos of the area over at Konnichiwa | My excellent Japanese adventure. JNTO also has a great page in English describing the area. The Akasaka SACAS area consists of: Akasaka SACAS, Biz Tower, Biz Tower Attrium, a Merto entrance, and several shops/restuarants across the street. There is also a concert hall called BLITZ to the north of Biz Tower Attrium. In the winter BLITZ has an outdoor ice-skating rink. The TBS broadcasting HQ is also in the area. BLITZ is owned + operated by TBS. A Tully’s is also located across the street:
Tully’s across the street from Akasaka SACAS/Biz Tower facing north. Nagatcho is to the right (east). The large First Cabin Akasaka hotel is the white bldg. on the right.The hidden side street area is just behind this block.2 blocks down on the right is the large FamilyMart, and there are all sorts of other great restaurants + shops on this street to the right.Don’t be afraid to wander down side streets to find unexpected enjoyment.
Akasaka’s Hidden Gem: The Hidden Side Street
Starting at around 35°40’37.79″ N 139°44’13.16″ E to the north, and running north-south is a long hidden side street behind the Bic Camera bldg. At night, this street is actually the livliest street in the area and is a must-see. At night this street comes alive with light, sound, smells, restaurants, shops, clubs, and bars. You can spend an entire evening here and not even scratch the surface. In addition there are several smaller adjacent side streets to explore. If you go to Nagatcho/Akasaka, absolutely do not miss this street. Photos are shown in the Additional Photos section below.
If you head up west from the Akasaka SACAS corner where the Tully’s coffee is, you’ll find the street extends west with more interesting shops + restuarants. Finally at the end you’ll come to a tunnel which leads out of the area:
You’ll also see lots of baton-wielding police in the area (shown in the 1st image at the top of this page), due to the critical nature of the central gov’t. If you’re behaving however, and not causing any trouble, they will generally leave you alone. If you get too rowdy, especially inside gov’t bldgs., they may very well arrest you + throw you in prison. And you do not want to ever end up in a Japanese prison because in Japan, guilt is assumed. It’s not the same as the US. If you do end up in one, a forced confession is likely (even if you are innocent), and if you are a foreigner, you will mostly likely serve some time, and then be deported and banned from ever entering the country again. If the police do approach you and ask to see your passport or alien registration card, be ready to provide it in an instant. By law, foreigners are required to carry their passport/registration card on them at all times, so be prepared. Don’t risk a prison term in Japan due to sheer neglect or bad behavior. It’s just not worth it. Always remember you’re a guest in someone else’s country. Respect them.
One more note about the Nagatcho/Akasaka area is because it’s the national central gov’t area, nearly everything in the area except the hidden side street shuts down early at night. So be prepared to not have access to certain things after around 9 PM. Trains however, continue to operate until 11-12 PM.
Overall master view. North is to the top. To the upper right is Imperial Palace, with the Diet + offices center right, left into central Nagatcho, then south + left into Akasaka. Notable buildings are the TBS HQ in the far lower left corner, Akasaka Biz Tower to the upper-right of that, Sanno Park Tower is the huge bldg. lower right center, and the large grey bldg. is Tokyu Garden Terrace just left of center at the top of the frame. If you continue along the major road shown at the top of the photo up to the northwest, you’ll pass the Imperial State House (which offers tours normally), and then into Yotsuya. If you turn left (west) at the main Yotsuya intersection, after a long way you’ll reach Shinjuku. Hibiya is just out of frame to the lower right.The small square bldg. with the blue square on the roof to the right of Sanno Park Tower is the Official Prime Minister’s Residence. APA Pride and Capitol Hotel Tokyu are hidden from view behind Sanno Park Tower. Just to the upper-left of Sanno Park Tower is Hie Shrine. Sotobori Dori Ave. is the main road running north-south. Just out of view to the southeast is Toranomon, and beyond that to the south Shimbashi.To the left out of frame about a mile is Roppongi.
Looking back north at the Diet Bldg. approaching from Toranomon to the south.
Bic Camera on Sotobori Dori.(In Japan it’s pronounced “Bee-ka Ca-mé-da” by locals).
.belleVie shopping complex, including Bic Camera. A subway portal is just down the stairs to the right. If you pass straight through to the other side, you’ll be on the hidden side street. Make a left.You’ll come out near the entrance to the hidden side street just down on the right here:
Entrance to the hidden side street facing south. At night this street comes alive with restaurants, shops, clubs, and hotels. The .belleVie shopping complex is the large bldg. on the left. This street is probably the #1 attraction to see in the Nagatcho/Akasaka area at night. If you walk this street a few blocks and turn right, you’ll come to the Akasaka SACAS area. 90 degrees to the left out of view is the Tokyu Plaza Akasaka Hotel:
Turn to your left 180 degrees from the entrance to the hidden side street, and you’ll see Tokyo Garden Terrace Koicho (the tall bldg.) just to your left only 2 blocks away.Tokyu Plaza Akasaka Hotel is the large white bldg. on the right.There’s another portal to Akasaka-mitsuke Station shown in the center. The plaque shown in the previous photo is just out of view to the right.
Heading west up the street across from Hie Shrine, which leads to the next corner shown in the next photo below. You can also hang a right here before the corner at the brick alley to get to the hidden side street heading north.
The view on the corner with the Tully’s facing west. Akasaka SACAS/Biz Tower are just ahead as shown in the photo below:
Akasaka SACAS/Biz Tower. A Metro portal is the small box on the right next to the lighted signs.Biz Tower is on the right, and beyond the lights on the left is the Biz Tower Atrium complex – and beyond that, BLITZ.You can also head right here down the street the Tully’s is on instead for more discovery:
There is a restaurant/bar just to the right called SMT. If you continue down the street north of that you’ll see:
There is also another small APA Hotel on this street as well.The hidden side street runs one block parallel to the right (east).
Looking back east from the Akasaka SACAS/Biz Tower area towards the Tully’s. There are more streets to the right (south) to explore as well.
The view of west Nagatcho facing north from the pedestrian bridge next to the entrance to the hidden side street. Tokyo Garden Terrace Koicho is at the base of the tall bldg. on the right. A Nagatcho Station Metro entrance is just up the hill to the east (right).
Looking back south 180 degrees from the photo above. The hidden side street is just to the right of the small black bldg. right of center. A Metro portal is just in front of that. The main gov’t area is off to the left a few blocks, Sotobori Dori is the street on the left with the cars on it.
Centurion Hotel on the hidden side street.
The hidden side street heading south – a must see. Itamae Sushi on the right is very popular. Down on the left a bit is a good jazz club.
The station exit at the small Metro portal in Nagatcho on the north side.Very Soviet-feeling.
Facing west from the north end of Akasaka. If you take this road northwest you’ll pass the Imperial Statehouse and come to Yotsuya. If you turn left @ Yotsuya, it will take you to Shinjuku several miles down. if you turn right here, you’ll see:
To get to Otémachi, take one of the lines listed above, and exit Otémachi Station. If you’d like a slightly longer way with more of a walk through central Tokyo, exit @ Tokyo Station, and head northwest on surface streets or through the vast underground network of tunnels under Tokyo Station which lead to Otémachi Station. If you do chose Tokyo Station there is a huge map of the entire area just next to the JR East Baggage Service office in the northwest corner at the Marunouchi side northwest exit
JR East Baggage Service office in Tokyo Station. The large area map is on the right.
Northwest corner of Tokyo Station at the Marunouchi side northwest exit. JR Baggage Service office is just to the left, JTB tourism office just to the right, out of view. To walk to Otémachi from here, head left and out of the station, then head northwest on sidewalks.
Just outside the northwest Marunouchi side exit. Head left (west) + north from here to reach Otemachi.
One of the long underground walkways connecting Tokyo Station + Otemachi Station. Incredibly, there are actually miles of these tunnels all over the Marunouchi/Otemachi area. In fact, they run all the way to the south to Yurakucho Station. Many of them connect in the basements of skyscrapers and other stations. It’s possible to traverse the entire area underground.
Hibiya-Dori runs north-south and connects Hibiya to the south with Otemachi to the north. This walk is one of the most spectacular in Tokyo and passes right in front of the Imperial Palace. A must-see.
Otemachi‘s layout is shown on the map below in white. Marunouchi is just to the east (right), and Hibiya to the south. The big green area on the left is the Imperial Palace. Just to the northeast is Kanda and Ueno. Tokyo Station is the big area in the lower right corner to the southeast. Out of view to the northwest is Tokyo Dome City.
In addition to the huge area maps in Tokyo Station, there are many area maps just outside Otemachi Station on the street level. Most are in both Japanese + English, so if you’re lost, a quick glance at one of these can help.
Tokyo central area map near Oazo, facing south. Otemachi is the blue area at the bottom of the map (north).
Otemachi derives its name from Ōtemon (“Great Hand Gate”), and was a critical area in the early Edo Period after Japan’s capital was moved from Kyoto to the Tokyo area.
Today the area houses dozens of critical Japanese companies including Japan Post HQ, Marubeni, Development Bank of Japan, Mizuo, Mitsui, Nisso (Nippon Soda) and The Nikkei newspaper.
Also be sure to check out the Otemon Guide – Chock full of good stuff to do in Otemachi. Shops, restaurants, displays, and museums. Definitely worth a look.
The top attraction in the area is called Otemachi One – a huge complex in the ground + basement levels of The Otemachi Tower. Also in this area with a little walking is Ootomori – which connects to Otemachi Station. Otemachi One is in the block to the east of Otemachi Station. Otemachi One has fabulous shops, restaurants, and museums to check out. A must-see.
The Otemachi One block is just one block to the east of the Imperial Palace – just across the street from the small north Imperial Palace Gardens.
1-chōme-2-1 Ōtemachi 1-chōme-2-1 Ōtemachi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0004
Directly connected to Otemachi Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Marunouchi Line, Hanzomon Line, Tozai Line, and Toei Subway Mita Line 5-minute walk from Takebashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line 14-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station（from the Marunouchi Central Gate） 12-minute walk from JR Kanda Station（from the South Exit）
Otemachi 1st Square+ Coworking Spaces
In the block just to the south of the Otemachi One block is a complex called Otemachi 1st Square. There’s a nice large park + several good restaurants in the area – as well as a sidewalk entrance to Otemachi Station.
In the Otemachi 1st Square office bldg. there is a great shared office space by Regus which has some very nice decked-out office spaces starting at around $600-$799/mo per person. Very reasonable considering this is central Tokyo. Check ’em out. There is also a LIFORK coworking space here.
Just to the west of the Sankei Bldg., around 35°41’16.23″ N 139°45’54.45″ E is a nice little hidden gem of a courtyard sandwiched in between 2 office buildings. Lots of great restaurants, cafés + shops. Definitely worth a stop.
Wadakura Fountain Park
Just 2 blocks to the southwest of the Otemachi area and 1 block west of Oazo around 35°41’00.02″ N 139°45’39.55″ E is a great concrete urban park called Wadakura Fountain Park. It’s near the Hibiya area and across from the Imperial Palace. Well worth a quick stop or walk. Just on the north side of the park is the fabulous Palace Hotel Tokyo (if you can swing the $500/night cost).
Palace Hotel Tokyo, right, and entrance to north Imperial Palace Gardens, left. This is facing north. Otemachi is on the right up the street. Wadakura Fountain Park is just on the right behind the red trees.
Just to the south end of the park is a small pedestrian walkway (Gyoko-dori) which runs west-east with a straight view of Tokyo Station. Gyoko-dori is best known for its spectacular fall view of Ginko trees, which turn a brilliant yellow around mid-late Oct. Like this:
Looking east towards Tokyo Station. Gyoko-dori is out of view to the left.
Looking west towards Imperial Palace from Tokyo Station. Gyoko-dori is the walkway with streetlamps on the right.
Looking northeast from Tokyo Station. Gyoko-dori is out of frame to the left.Marunouchi is the area with the tall bldgs. to the east of the station.
There is also a free shuttle called the Marunouchi Shuttle which runs in a loop between many of the larger office bldgs. including a few in Otemachi. A quick way to see the area for free. The shuttle also has an app for Android and iOS, but it’s in Japanese only. The above page also has a PDF map of the area.
If you don’t want to lug your heavy bags around the area, you can drop + lock them in any one of the many paid coin lockers around the area. The inside of Tokyo Station has huge banks of these, and you can usually find one available. Cost is anywhere from $4-$8. Most of them take electronic Suica prepaid rail cards for payment. Storage time is usually 16-24 hours.
Just at the edge of Otemachi to Marunouchi to the west, is a small complex called Marunouchi Oazo. It’s mostly offices, but also has a shopping and a dining floor. Well worth a look. It’s located at 35°41’00.61″ N 139°45’58.92″ E.
Northwest to Takebashi Station
If you head northwest on Rt. 403/401 past the Imperial Palace and loop around to the west, you’ll come to the northwest part of Otemachi. This area is just north of the north entrance to the Imperial Palace. You can also get here by taking a Metro subway to Takebashi Station on the Tozai Line.
Just across from the Imperial Palace is the Palaceside Bldg. – an older office bldg. but still worth a look. The ground-floor lobby has lots of shops and restaurants + a post office. The building also houses some coworking spaces. There is also a Tully’s on the north side of the bldg.
If you head north on Rt. 301/Haukusan Dori from the Palaceside Bldg., a few miles up you will find Tokyo Dome City. See our other post on the area. Keep in mind from TDC, it’s only a few quick miles east to Ueno. In the 2nd block along this route there is also a very large nice museum on the left hand side of the street.
9 Hours Otemachi
If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Otemachi, 2 blocks to the northwest of the Palaceside Bldg, is 9 Hours Otemachi. Can we recommend it? Well it depends – if you’re a light sleeper, not really. As with most other 9 Hours capsule hotels, the tubes you sleep in are made of plastic. It’s common to get stuck in these places with lots of snoring Japanese salarymen who will keep you awake all night. If on the other hand, you’re a heavy sleeper and nothing bothers you, then it may work. This particular 9 Hours has nice showers, and a nice common lobby with a small desk and charge ports, but the common locker rooms are a bit cramped and the minuscule lockers they provide are hard to deal with. At this hotel, for us at least, we also experienced rude, immature staff – very young teens from China staff the place – nothing like the legendary Japanese hospitality you’ve come to expect. Even by Tokyo capsule standards it left a lot to be desired. So, if you’re rough ‘n ready, 9 Hours Otemachi might work for you, else think twice. 9 Hours is located around 35°41’31.39″ N 139°45’39.14″ E down a tiny side street.
9 Hours Otemachi: entrance, capsules, showers:
9 Hours Otemachi is just down this side street on the right. This is facing west.There is also a big 7-11 on the corner.
Northwest to Jimbocho + glitch Coffee
If you head just to the northwest of the main street the 9 Hours is off of, you’ll come to Jimbocho – Tokyo’s famous used book area. Just to the northeast of that is WATERRAS, Ochanomizu, and lots of sports and music shops. You can walk from Jimbocho to Ochanomizu by walking along Yasukuni Dori to the east, then north on Rt. 405 for a few blocks. WATERRAS is just a few blocks north on your left (west) side of the street. 1 block northwest of that is Ochanomizu Station. Ochanomizu is known for its guitar shops. There are also a lot of ski/snowboard shops in the area.
Along the street north from the 9 Hours, around 35°41’37.44″ N 139°45’40.64″ E, on the right-hand side just before Yasukuni-Dori, is a hip little café called glitch Coffee. This place has some really high-end pour over coffee + Espresso, and lots of seating with a big window. Worth a stop. When we stayed @ the 9 Hours, they had a free breakfast ticket for glitch Coffee. The shop also serves lots of scones + pastries. The bldg. is a little hole in the wall, and the only sign is the small painted name in English on the front window.
1F 3-16 Kanda Nishikicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0054 VIEW MAP 東京都千代田区神田錦町3-16 香村ビル1F
Near the WATERRAS complex, there is also a very nicebig Olympic Grocery.
Your food options in Otemachi/Marunouchi are endless. Aside from the ultra-deluxe restaurants in Otemachi One and the big hotels, you can stop in a café for a quick bite, or a local noodle shop. Many of the upscale hotels in the area have spectacular fabulous restaurants, though they will cost you.
Cappuccetto Rosso café in northwest Otémachi.
Conclusion + Footnotes
There’s a lot to do in Otemachi and it can serve as a jumping off point to lots of other interesting parts of Tokyo – it’s just north of Tokyo Station, just west of Marunouchi (from which you can jump to the northeast to Nihonbashii and its fabulous hotels + restaurants), it’s just a few miles south of Tokyo Dome City and just southeast of Akihabara. Also keep in mind just down Hibiya Dori to the south from Otemachi is the fabulous Hibiya area. It’s even close enough to walk to for most people. So, in summary, you can see everything Otemachi has to offer + get to lots of other interesting destinations quickly at the same time.
Plan on spending a 1/2 or whole day in Otemachi + surrounding area – especially if you want to see the Tokyo Station + Marunouchi areas at the same time.
Turning east (left) off Hibiya Dori. Otemachi is to the left.
A spectacular night view in Otemachi.
A Doutour Café on the northwest side.
Street outside Oté Center Plaza bldg., Otemachi.
Otemachi Park Bldg.
Northwest side of Otemachi, facing east. Just to the right 2 blocks is the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Dori. Just to the left a few blocks is 9 Hours Otemachi. As a small footnote, the small tan bldg. in the center is currently a shared working space. Just behind the camera is a very nice Tully’s Coffee. If you go left here for several miles, you’ll come to Tokyo Dome City.