Just north of the ImperialPalace in central Tokyo is the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (not to be confused with the Museum of Contermporary Art, Tokyo further to the east). This excellent and modern museum lies just west of the Parkside Bldg., just north of the moat north of the Imperial Palace, and also just west of Hibiya. Just beyond Hibiya to the east lies central Tokyo and the Marunouchi district.
Further to the west around the moat to the south lies the fabulous Akasaka.
Just northwest of the museum is Kitanomaru (North Circle) Park – so named because it is on the circular route that rings the Imperial Palace. The park has other stuff to do – such as a large science museum, walking paths, and Nippon Budokan (built for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics). Budokan is now used for various sporting events and concerts.
To get to the museum, take the Metro Tozai Line and exit Takebashi Station to the street. At street level, head west down the sidewalk, pass the Parkside Bldg. on your right, and the museum will be up a block on your right – across from the Imperial Palace. Note that for Takebashi Station there is no above-ground station – the entire thing is under street-level.
Takebashi Station exit, right, Parkside Bldg., left. One block left of that is the museum.
Takebashi Station exit, far right, Parkside Bldg., upper center. One block left of that is the museum.South of the museum is the Imperial Palace.You can also walk all the way around the palace by walking the sidewalk along the moat.The science museum is in the upper left corner of the frame.To the very upper right of the frame is Otemachi.Way off to the right out of frame is Hibiya.
There’s lots to do here, although the museum isn’t terribly large. The building itself is impressive, as is its collection of art. Most of the art is from Japan but it’s impressive nonetheless and worth a look. If you have time, stop in and look around.
Jimbocho is a small town in north central Tokyo about 1/2 a mile to the north of the Imperial Palace and the Otemachi area. It’s known as Tokyo’s book town. But it also has a wide variety of sports + music shops – especially for skiing and snowboarding. You can spend a whole day strolling east-west on Yasukuni-Dori Ave (Rt. 403). checking out the shops. There are endless bookstores in the area with every kind of book imaginable.
Central Jimbocho facing north. Yasukuni-Dori runs east-west in sort of an inverted arc shown here running throught the center of town. This street is lined with endless sports/book/music shops, cafés, and restaurants. To the north is Ochanomizu, to the east (right) is Akihabara and Kanda, and to the south is Otemachi and the Imperial Palace.Tokyo Dome City is to the northwest, out of frame.
Extended view facing north. Jimbocho is in the center, Akihabara on the right, TDC at the upper-left, and Imperial Palace to the south, just out of view.
The central + west side of Jimbocho is better described in our Kanda Superguide. We’ll detail just the basic area here. Essentially Yasukuni-Dori (Rt. 403) runs east-west in an arc through the center of town.
There are endless backstreets + streets full of book stores. Most of the major sporting + music shops are along Yasukuni-Dori. There are dozens of interesting guitar shops along the way.
The Hidden Pedestrian Side Street
At around 35°41’43.31″ N 139°45’39.23″ E – just across from a Xerbio Sportsstore and right next to an ABC-Mart shoe store is the entrance to a charming little side street off-limits to vehicle traffic. There are dozens of nice restaurants + cafés and other shops up + down this street. If you walk this street a few blocks to the west and then turn right on Rt. 301 (Hakusan-Dori) it will take you right into TDC. Turning left on the main street next to ABC instead of taking the side street will lead you to glitch Coffee (discussed next). If you continue walking far enough south past glitch Coffee it will take you to the Imperial Palace and Otemachi.
At around 35°41’37.52″ N 139°45’40.50″ E just to the south of Yasukuni Dori is glitch Coffee. The shop is excellent, but’s in a run-down non-descript old office bldg. with only a sign in the window. Don’t let the appearance fool you – it’s worth a trip. See our full review.
At around 35°41’32.82″ N 139°45’48.60″ E just to the south a few blocks off Yasukuni-Dori and several blocks east of glitch is the Yonemoto Coffee Shop – it’s on a corner and a very nice place to rest + get a brew. It’s popular with early-morning local workers. There is a larger main shop by the same company east of Ginza near Tsukiji.
Yonemoto Coffee Shop – just a few blocks east of glitch.
If you walk a mile or so west on Yasukuni-Dori, then turn north (left) onto Rt. 405 (Sotobori-Dori), you’ll come to the sister city of Ochanomizu where there is a spectacular complex called WATERRAS around 35°41’50.39″ N 139°46’03.98″ E. There is also a very nice organic Olympic grocery in the basement of WATERRAS. If you’re up for a bit of a walk, WATERRAS is worth the quick tirp.
Just to the west of WATERRAS 2 blocks is a Greek Orthodox church with spectacular Russian architecture called Holy Ressurection Cathedral.
North to Ueno, east to Akihabara.
If you head north of WATERRAS and cross the Kanda River, then head onto Rt. 452north for about 1 mile you will come to the famous Tokyo district of Ueno.
You can also cross the Kanda River, then head east a few blocks, then north a few blocks again to Akihabara which is only a few miles to the northeast.
Facing west on Yasukuni-Dori.Note the sidewalk Metro portal on the right.
Head north off Yasukuni-Dori here for WATERRAS.
Jimbocho is a nice little town worth a stroll. It’s usually low-tourist, and low-crowd, which makes it easy. It’s well worth a quick trip or day trip from any of the other local major areas such as Otemachi, Akihabara, or TDC. Check it out.
Just 2 blocks east of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is a fabulous mixed-used shopping/food complex called Ootemori. The complex is embedded in the Tokyo Metro’s Otemachi Station. It’s also reachable from Tokyo Station via a long labyrnth of underground tunnels, stairs, and escalators inside the station. For those not familiar with the area, the central part of Tokyo has 4 small sub-areas: Marunouchi where Tokyo Station and the financial district are, Otemachi, just to the northeast a few blocks, the Imperial Palace area just to the west, and Yurakucho just to the south. Underground, Tokyo Station and Otemachi Station are linked with vast levels of buildings, tunnels, escalators, and walkways.
Metro line map for 3 of the 4 lines. Otemachi Station is roughly mid-way on each line, shown here in red on each line map.
The complex + station is a vast 6-level labyrinth that overwhelms any first-time traveler to the area. It will take several trips through the complex before you become thoroughly familiar with all its intricacies. All 4 Metro lines are on different levels. The Marunouchi platform was recently renovated for the 2020 Olympic Games. There are over 100 exits in the station.
Entering Ootemori complex underground from Tokyo Station. Ootemori features spectacular soaring ceilings, and food/shopping galore. Do not miss it.
Otemachi Station street-level entry/exit. There are several such exits at street level around the Otemachi area.
Ootemori is housed in the B1 level of this bldg. in central Tokyo. But the complex and station levels span miles below the surface streets.
The Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station at night, facing northeast. Otemachi is to the northwest (left) of this photo. There are vast underground tunnels connecting the two areas beneath the station. To the south (right) is Yurakucho, and beyond that, Ginza to the east.
Inside one of many soaringoffice bldgs. in Otemachi.
Otemachi 1st Square
Just 1 block back to the west from Ootemori is Otemachi 1st Square – another large mixed use complex filled with great shopping + food. There is also a small outdoor park between the two bldgs. If you’re at Ootemori, it’s worth a stop too. Around Halloween time there’s a huge outdoor Halloween festival @ Otemachi 1st Square, so if you’re in the area around that time, be sure to stop by.
1 block diagonally to the southeast of Ootemoriis another nice mixed use complex called Marunouchi OAZO. It’s also worth a look, although there’s not as much to do @ Marunouchi OAZO as at the other 2 complexes. Marunouchi OAZO is mostly a mixed use corporate office park so the focus is more on work, but there are some things here worth a quick look.
Marunouchi OAZO complex. There are interesting shops on the 1st floor and a restaurant level on the top floor. There’s also a hotel here.
2 blocks to the northeast of Ootemori is the new Otemachi One mixed-use complex which is a great new attraction in the Maronuchi area. Built in 2017, this new complex is definitely worth a stop. The new complex features a new 2-block park + water park for visitors to relax around, a Four Seasons Hotel, and a host of other shops, cafés, and amenities.
You can spend hours or even days wandering around the subterranean levels in Ootemori exploring all it has to offer. Dozens of great restaurants, cafés, and shops abound.
Newly renovated Marunouchi Line platform. This level is one of many connected together inside Otemachi Station and, if you walk far enough, all the way to Tokyo Station.
Facing north on Rt. 405 looking at Toranomon Hills at night. Note the spotless street pavement.
There are plenty of interesting side streets in Toranomon. Feel free to wander around + explore. If you head south on Rt. 405 towards Shimbashi, there’s a lot of good food + there’s also the Avant Cycles shop on the west side of the street.
Avant Cycles shop.High-end racing bikes. A bike is a must-have in Tokyo.
Plenty of high-end Japanese shops fill the area – many of them with astonishingly good nighttime lighting.
Caffé Veloce has a retro 1950’s vibe – but it’s known for not having the best coffee in Tokyo. It does have some pretty decent cheap food, though – such as hot dogs for around $2.00 USD.
Just behind Good Morning Cafe + Grill is TREX Toranomon Café + bike shop. You can rent bikes here – or take a paid bike tour around Tokyo. The bike shop is out front, and the café is in a smaller bldg. around the back. Both definitely worth a look.
More Good Stuff
Rt. 409 (Hibiya-Dori) which runs E-W + intersects Rt. 405 (the main street in Toranomon) has some interesting things to see + do. At the southwest corner of this intersection is The Monument of the Site of Asano Takuminokami’s death (Asano was involved in the famous medevial Japanese Legend of the 47 Ronin – which was made into a US film in 2013).
Directly across the street to the east of this is the SHINTORA-DORI CORE – a mixed used development which also has a huge coffee shop on the ground floor.
Facing south on Rt. 405 towards Shimbashi/Shiodome. Again, note the spotless pavement.
There are all kinds of other interesting side streets/paths to explore.
Even small side streets are usually clean + well-lit.
Tokyo has spotless pavement – mainly because all plastic waste is collected, recycled, and plowed into new road pavement to make it rubbery + elastic so it doesn’t chip or crack. The plastic gets reused, and the country gets better roads. Brilliant. You rarely see any road gravel in Tokyo. The only downside is Japan hasn’t mastered bike lanes yet – as indicated by the double arrow + cyclist icons on the right.
Vending machines are good for quick, cheap drinks. You can now also pay electronically via IC railway cards such as Suica in most places. Suica also supports payment via smartphone or Apple Watch.
Japan’s Suica electronic rail IC card. You add money to the card, then use it at electronic turnstyles at train stations to pay your fare. You can also use them at convenience stores and most vending machines.
Another abandoned bike in Tokyo – an all too common occurrence.
Further to the west down Rt. 403 just south of Tokyo Tower is world-famous Zojo-ji Temple. You can easily walk to it from Toranomon.
Well, that’s it for the Toranomon Superguide. We hope you found it useful. Enjoy your stay. You can easily spend a few days in the area and see everything. If you also want to see Shimbashi + Akasaka too, plan on a week or so for all 3. You can stay in one of the inexpensive hotels in Toranomon (such as APA), or one in Akasaka. There is also a First Cabin on a main street in Akasaka. It is conveniently located + has a Key’s Cafe embedded right inside it. There is also a Tully’s Coffee just around the corner. Or choose the very nice APA #215 Hotel Shimbashi Toranomon. If you do stay in Akasaka, be sure to check out the excellent Akasaka SACAS area.
Looking east in front of Toranomon Hills.
There are lots of great restaurants and shops on the backstreets.
And some great restaurants under overpasses + between streets.
Hibiya is a small area of eastern Tokyo sandwhiched south of the Maronuchi/Imperial Palace area, but north of Shimbashi to the south. Ginza is just to the east.
The main street is called Hibiya Dori or Rt. 409. Hibiya is home to many very upscale hotels, restaurants, and shops. There is also a huge park – Hibiya Park – just on the west side of Hibiya Dori with dazzling gardens, lakes, an open-air concert hall, and several public tennis courts. There is also a Metro subway station – Hibiya Station – on the Hibiya Line and Chiyoda Line. If you’re looking for a good hostel, you can check out https://wiseowlhostels.com/tokyo/ just across from Hatchobori Station on the Hibiya Line just to the east.
WISE OWL HOSTELS TOKYO 3-22-9 Hatchobori, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Tel: 03-5541-2960 Fax: 03-5541-2961 Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line・Keiyo Line「Hatchobori station」 30-sec walk from B1 or A1 Exit.
A great stroll or bike ride can be had from approx. 35°40’17.74″ N 139°45’23.26″E all the way north to the Imperial Palace along Hibiya Dori Ave. There are epic hotels, glittering shops, and endless restaurants. In the evening in particular, this makes a great little diversion. At the very north end near the Imperial Palace is the upscale Tokyo Midtown Hibiya shopping + dining complex.
A quick turn to the right (east) a few blocks south of the Imperial Palace Moat takes you right into Yurakucho Station and Ginza on the JR and Yurakucho lines. There is also a jumbo-sized Tully’s Coffee with free charging ports right across from the moat at ground level on the street. The small stone sentry towers on the street corners around the moat date all the way back to the 1600’s and are popular spots for wedding photos.