Ginza Superguide

Name: Ginza

Kind: Town

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°40’19.54″ N 139°45’50.72″ E

Station: Yurakucho Station, JR Yamanote Line, Yurakucho Station/ | Tokyo Metro Line, Ginza Station – Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, Hibiya Line

Worth it? A must-see.

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Updated 3/14/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

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.

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A typical store in Ginza.

Access

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Be sure to first read our Yurakucho Superguide as it contains all the info you need on the main station near GinzaYurakucho, 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).

Area Layout

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, Yurakucho + Hibiya

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.

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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.

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Facing east crossing from Yurakucho into Ginza at MARRIONER GATE. Yurakucho is behind the camera.

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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).

Hibiya just to the west.

There is also Metro Hibiya Station nearby in Hibiya, shown on the left here.

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Inside the Ginza Metro Station.

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On the Metro Ginza Line.

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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.

Ginza

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 GinzaGinza 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.

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The famous Wako Bldg. facing north. Yurakucho and Tokyu Plaza are off to the left out of view. So is the SEIKO Watch Museum. Sony Showcase is on the right out of view. If you turn right here and go to the Mitsukoshi building’s roof there is an open-air garden, shops, and several cafés. Matsuya Ginza, which has one of the best food basements in Tokyo is straight ahead on the right. The Ginza Apple Store is down on the left.

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Mitsukoshi‘s rooftop garden. Check it out. World-famous jeweler Mikimoto is across the street.

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Matsuya Ginza Depachika (food basement). Don’t miss it. (“Depachika” is a Japanese contraction for “Department Store Basement”).

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.

Across from Tokyu Plaza Ginza at night.

Tokyu Plaza Ginza entrance at night.

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The Hermes Building across from Tokyu Plaza Ginza.

Ginza Six

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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:

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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

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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.

Kit-Kat Chocolatory

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.

Le Chocolate De H Ginza

Also be sure to check out Le Chocolate De H Ginza.

Last But Not Least – Don Quijote Ginza

Just on the border of Ginza on the west side and Shiodome on the east, there is this little Don Quijote 100¥ 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.

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©2019 tenmintokyo.com

Cheap culinary snack delights await you @ Don Quijote Ginza.

©2019 tenmintokyo.com
©2019 tenmintokyo.com

Kabukiza Theatre

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.

https://www.kabukiweb.net/theatres/kabukiza/

Conclusion

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.

Enjoy!

Additional Photos

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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.

Under Yurakucho Station.

Facing north on Sotobori Dori. Turning right here leads into Ginza. Yurakucho is on the left.

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Another view of Hermes across from Tokyu Plaza Ginza.

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Entrance to Matsuya Ginza.

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©2019 tenmintokyo.com

Endless adventures await you on the backstreets of Ginza.

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Another view of Matsuya Ginza.

LINKS

Yurakucho Station/ | Tokyo Metro Line

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

Yūrakuchō Station – Wikipedia

Yurakucho Station | JapanVisitor Japan Travel Guide

Yurakucho Station, Chiyoda, Japan Tourist Information

Ginza Station

Higashi Ginza Station, Hibiya Line

GINZA OFFICIAL

Yurakucho : Best Things to Do in 2021

Yurakucho Superguide

SEIKO Museum Ginza

Shinkansen @ Yūrakuchō Station near Ginza

Hibiya – Tokyo’s Elegant Walk

Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum – Wikipedia

Wako Building

Matsuya Ginza

https://ginza6.tokyo/

Ginza Japanese Cuisine on the App Store

Kit-Kat Chocolatory

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kit+kat+chocolatory&hvadid=78683806185431&hvbmt=bb&hvdev=c&hvqmt=p&tag=mh0b-20&ref=pd_sl_8impajdfw8_b

kabuki-za.co.jp

VIDS

Yurakucho Station is one of the best Shinkansen-spotting places in Tokyo. Ginza is directly behind the camera to the east.

This video shows other views of the area around Yurakucho Station. Bic Camera and Tokyo International Forum are shown behind the tracks in this thumbnail.

Yoyogi Superguide

Name: Yoyogi

Kind: Town/City

Location: 35°40’59.52″ N 139°42’07.52″ E

Stations: Yoyogi Station JR Line, Shinjuku Station JR Line, various non-Metro subway lines

Free Wifi: Yes

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? For a quick look.

Updated 2/2/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Yoyogi is a small town just south of Shinjuku. In fact it’s just one stop south of Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote Line. It’s close enough to walk. Some of the side streets + alleyways are worth a look. There is also a huge multi-use shopping complex called Takashimaya Time Square just north of the station. For a quick trip + walk around, it’s worth a stop. There are various other non-Metro subway links into Yoyogi Station listed over on the Wikipedia article.

The most famous + enjoyable part of Yoyogi is Yoyogi Park – a huge green open space popular with families and young hipsters. In mid-Oct. the entire park turns a brilliant yellow/red with the leaves on the trees preparing to drop for the winter.

Just behind Yoyogi Station to the north east towers the NTT DoCoMo HQ, better known to locals as “The Bubble Bulding” because it was built during Japan’s “bubble” economy era – the 1980’s.

Also across from Yoyogi Park is the National Gymnasium. At the south end of the park is small bridge to a large open concrete park area with benches.

Just to the southeast of Yoyogi Park – and 1 stop south of the station is the world-famous Harajuku/Omotesando area – so you can make a stop there afterwards, if you have time. Just take the JR Yamanote Line again 1 stop south to Harajuku Station. A brand new Harajuku Station just opened in 2020.

One more thing to be aware of is that during rush hours (5AM-8AM and 5PM-7PM Shinjuku Station is an absolute madhouse. If you do take a train there during those hours, get ready to be squashed like a sardine in the train.

Area Layout

Yoyogi Station lies at the bottom of this map (top is north). At the north end of the map is the massive Shinjuku Station – the busiest rail station in the world with 2 million people passing through every day. Center right on the map is the towering NTT DoCoMo bldg., and just east of that is Shinjuku Goyen Park. Takashimaya Times Square is just north of the NTT bldg. Yoyogi Park and National Gymnasium is just to the southwest out of frame. One JR stop to the south is Harajuku.

Yoyogi Station south entrance. The main square is just to the left.

Attractions

There actually isn’t much in Yoyogi itself beyond the park. There is one small intersection to the west of the station lined with shops, and a street running north into central Shinjuku that is worth a stroll. The area to the west is mostly a hilly residential area. To the immediate right of the station is a small underpass which leads to the street running north directly into Takashimaya Times Square.

Station area facing south at night. The small rail underpass is just to the left.

Facing southwest. There is a large FamilyMart conbini (convenience store) just on the right. There are also a number of good cafés around. Above the FamilyMart are a couple nice yakiniku (steak) places. Head straight down the street ahead to the south for Yoyogi Park a few blocks down.

Another front view of the station.

The Bubble Building soaring above Yoyogi Station.

Facing east. The pedestrian underpass is just ahead. Head straight then left to get to Takshimaya Times Square. Also note Panda Sugar just on the corner to the right.

90 degrees to the left and you’re facing north on the main street. The triangular bldg. barely visible in the distance is the MyLord Bldg. in Shinjuku. There is also a 2nd entrance to the station just on the right behind the truck in this photo.

Instead of heading straight, you can also head left down this little side street. Note the Doutour café straight ahead, and a Pronto Café on the left. Doutour has some reasonably good food very cheap.

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Boarding @ JR Yoyogi Station.

Yoyogi Park

From the main west intersection head south down the center street for a few blocks and on your right will be Yoyogi Park. Admission is free and it’s a huge park – about a mile across. You can spend nearly a day there walking around. The park is especially nice in the fall and spring. On weekends the park is packed with families and kids – so you may want to go in the middle of the week to avoid crowds if possible.

You can also get directly to Yoyogi Park by taking the Yamanote Line 1 more stop south to Harajuku Station – then exit, turn right, then turn right again at the next intersection – just up the street on the right is Yoyogi Park.

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The south entrance @ Yoyogi Park in the fall.

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A map near the south entrance.

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

At the park facing north in fall. The NTT bldg. in Shinjuku is visible in the distance.

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The bridge at the south end of the park.

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The small open area south of the park.

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

National Gymnasium. Harajuku/Omotesando is just down the street on the left.

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Harajuku/Omotesando facing east. New Harajuku Station is the grey bldg. on the left. Entrance to Meiji Shrine is just to the left of that out of frame. Entrance to Omotesando is straight ahead. Yoyogi Park is back up the street behind the camera.

Meiji Shrine

As we mentioned, just to the south of Yoyogi Station is Meiji Shrine – a monument to Japan’s 19th century emperor Meiji. Meiji was most famous for the Meiji Restoration – the opening of Japan to trade in 1868 and the ending of the absolute rule of Shoguns as commanders of the country. You can walk to Harajuku Station where the southern entrance is, or you can take the JR Yamanote line further south 1 stop and exit there. The entrance is just behind the station. One of the most notable features is the huge wood Torii Gate at the entrance – one of the largest in Japan.

Takashimaya Times Square

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Just up the street from Yoyogi Station is a huge multuse complex called Takshimaya Times Square. The main building is mostly huge department stores and restaurants but there are a lot of smaller interesting shops around the main building. The top 3 floors of the main building are all restaurants. There is also a small outdoor area with benches on an overpass with glass walls. The B1 level is all food. Here’s the official website and shop list.

Shinjuku Goyen National Garden

Just to the east of Takashimaya Square is the huge and amazing Shinjuku Goyen National Garden. This park has amazing paths to stroll around and a huge lake. Unfortunately there’s no entrance on the west side and you’ll have to head to the north side around 35°41’18.02″ N 139°42’28.79″ E to get to the entrance. There is a small entrance fee, but it’s not much. There is also a huge flower garden in the park. It’s worth a stop if you have a few extra hours to kill.

Food + Cafés

As we mentioned, there are a few places to eat around the station: one of the cafés, one of the steak places, or something from a conbini. The convenience store food in Japan is much better than that in the US. Pre-made sandwiches are actually fresh + natural without all the preservatives and chemicals found in western convenience store food. Or you could go to a place in Takshimaya Times Square or even in Shinjuku to the north. There are a lot of great Depachika (short for Basement Department) in the depato (department stores) in Shinjuku including Keio and others. Or you could try one of the upscale places in Omotesando. There are lots of great places there including a MOS Café, and several pancake shops. There are also several western fast food places near the station.

Conclusion

Well that’s it for now. Yoyogi + Yoyogi Park can make a fun day, or 1/2 day. If you have a little extra time, be sure to also check out Takshimaya Times Square and Shinjuku Goyen. It’s possible to do all 4 areas in one day, but it will be a full day. Enjoy!

Additional Photos

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com
©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

West facing New Harajuku Station which opened in 2020. Just to the left around the corner is the entrance to Meiji Shrine. Just beyond that to the west is Yoyogi Park.

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New Harajuku Station under construction in 2020.

Old Harajuku Station is just to the right. Just to the left in this photo is the entrance to the world-famous Takeshita Street. The entrance to Meiji Shrine is just down the street on the right.

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Giant cookies the size of frisbees in Keio department store’s depachika.

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3 more views of the NTT building from Shinjuku.

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©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com
©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Mayhem @ Shinjuku Station.

Shinjuku’s most OTT street musician – Duckman!

LINKS

Yoyogi

Yoyogi Station

Yoyogi Station travel guide

Yoyogi @ tokyo-tokyo.com

Yoyogi | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

Yoyogi Area Guide | Tokyo Cheapo

Yoyogi Park – Tripadvisor

Yoyogi Park

Shinjuku | Takashimaya Department store

Takashimaya Shinjuku Department Store – Shinjuku Station

https://trulytokyo.com/takashimaya-times-square/

Takashimaya Times Square

Shinjuku

Shinjuku Station

Route Maps | JR-EAST

Yamanote Line

JR Yamanote Line

Yamanote Line — Map, Lines, Route, Hours, Tickets

JR Yamanote line @ jrailpass.com

Meiji Shrine Official

Meiji-jingu Shrine | JNTO

Meiji Shrine Outer Garden – Wikipedia

Meiji Shrine Review | Fodor’s Travel

Sekai Ichi: Japan Travel Blog: Meiji Shrine

Meiji Jingu (Shrine), Tokyo. | Old TokyoOld Tokyo

Meiji Jingū Shrine – Christine Loves to Travel

Meiji Shrine | Steviekun Foto: Life in Japan

Visiting The Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan – Drone & DSLR Travel Blog

Harajuku + Omotesando Superguide

New Harajuku Station Officially Opens

Walking route. Harajuku Station to Yoyogi Station

TOKYO WALKING

Emperor Meiji

Panda Sugar

Tokyo Vegetarian Restaurants + Cafe Guide

The Sound of the Mountain – Wikipedia

VIDS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuCY4EGHajk

LUMINE Ikebukuro Food Court

Name: LUMINE Ikebukuro

Kind: Depato

Location: 35°43’43.85″ N 139°42’33.51″ E

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:

  1. Exit JR Ikebukuro Station at the west or Metropolitan (Theater) exit. This is on the west/southwest side of the station.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

The real JR map of the station is here, but it doesn’t really show this entrance.

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.

Links

LUMINE floor guide

LUMINE Ikebukuro

https://www.lumine.ne.jp/english/ikebukuro/

TOBU Ikebukuro

Depachika Delights: The Underground Food Halls of Tokyo

Tokyo Food Guide

Map:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=esola+ikebukuro&t=ffab&ia=places&iai=%E3%82%A8%E3%82%BD%E3%83%A9%E6%B1%A0%E8%A2%8B-%E8%B1%8A%E5%B3%B6%E5%8C%BA-2&iaxm=places

‘Depachika’ – Japan’s Giant Food Basements

Japan is not only the capital of fashion – it’s the capital of food. There’s so much food in this town you can eat yourself silly.

By far the biggest food vendors are the huge Japanese depato stores and their huge food courts.

Usually in the basements of these stores, these food courts can take up and entire block and have every imaginable kind of food you can think of. Desserts are especially plentiful and good.

The kings of them all – IOHO – are the food court basements in SEIBU and TOBU departos in Ikebukuro. Come here to feast your eyes + pallete on every conceivable kind of food you can imagine.

Some of them are even in train stations (see below).

Seemingly endless food court in SEIBU Ikebukuro’s basement.

TOBU Ikebukuro also has a rooftop floor food court + huge shop.

PARCO @ the north end of Ikebukuro Station is a close 3rd.

One of many spectacular food displays in a depachika. You can eat yourself silly.

LINKS

VIDS