Shinjuku Superguide

Name: Shinjuku

Kind: Town

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°41’29.39″ N 139°42’07.68″ E

Station: Shinjuku Station – JR Yamanote Line

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? Don’t miss it.

Updated 7/9/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

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The name Shinjuku means New Lodgings. The area became a busy commerce center during the Edo Period and later again after World War 2. The name derives from the older area Harajuku (Sun Lodgings) to the south.

A diorama depicting Shinjuku during the World War 2 era at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Access

Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station on earth. Over 2 million people pass through the station every day. At rush hour the place is so packed it can be hard to move or even find your way around if you’re not familiar with it.

There are both Japan Rail (JR) platforms for common lines such as the Yamanote Line, as well as various subway lines. The station acts as an interchange + transfer point for many lines in Tokyo. There are at least 8 levels in the station, many of them buried deep underground.

There are also lots of shopping areas as well as a newly renovated outside shop area and courtyard (Shinjuku Southern Terrace). The station was vastly expanded in 2009-2010 and is now several times its former size on the south end.

Area Layout

The station is shown above, lower center. On both the north and south ends there are huge clusters of shopping centers, as well as an outdoor courtyard. To the northwest is the Cocoon building, and the Tokyo Metropolitain Gov’t buildings (which has a great free observation deck). Just northeast of the Cocoon Tower is the Odayku department store (depato) complex. To the northeast are the main streets with a dizzying array of outdoor shops, restaurants, and things to do and see. At night the area comes alive with lights + sounds – a photographer’s dream. There are also countless huge electronics shops such as Bic Camera and others.

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View of Shinjuku from the outdoor platform. The Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is on the left, and Odakyu (see below) is the orange building in the center. Ikebukuro is a few stops to the north from here.

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Info map at the station on a platform.

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From Shinjuku you can take your pick of 2 more interesting areas in either direction: Ikebukuro to the north, or Shibuya to the south.

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Madness at a station platform.

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At the north entrance of the station around 35°41’31.78″ N 139°42’03.26″ E is the famous Duckman street performer.

The surface-level of the station has several areas: the main (north) area bisected by Rt. 20 running east-west (this area has the LUMINE and NewWoman modifications made in the early 2000’s. The MyLord bldg. and open terrace to the west of that, the Cocoon bldg. area to the northwest, and the Takashimaya Square area to the south. Of course there are many more areas than this – the station area is huge and takes a whole hour to circumnavigate on foot. Just to the northeast of the LUMINE area is a huge OIOI (pronounced Marui) department store complex, and just to the immediate west on Rt. 20 is a huge Don Quijote discount store. Also at the very south end of the new station redevelopment is a huge outdoor open-air sitting area + cafés (Shinjuku Southern Terrace). You can sit and watch the trains come and go beneath you. Just to the east of the Takashimaya Square complex is the huge Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – a must see. If you go to the gardens and have a few extra minutes, also pop in to Yoyogi just a few minutes’ walk to the south.

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Inside the crazy west end of the station.

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Heading down into the Metro Ginza line from the west side of the station.

Courtesy Virtual Japan.tv

The northwest terrace. The MyLord bldg. is straight ahead.

Tourist Info Offices + Currency Exchange + Coin Lockers

At the very south end of the LUMINE bldg. under the train tracks is a huge Shinjuku Tourist Information Office. If you want to pick up some brochures on things to do in the area, stop in when you first arrive.

The outdoor Tourist Info Office just under the tracks next to LUMINE.

There is another Tokyo Tourist Information Center on the 3rd floor near the south exit. There’s also a Sagawa luggage delivery service office here.

At the west exit there is the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center which has all sorts of info about sightseeing.

There are also loads of currency exchanges around the info offices, but their rates may not be the best. You might be better off using a smaller exchange in places such as Akihabara, or the Sakura Exchange in Shibuya.

There’s also a large coin locker bank on the southern side of the info center shown above.

Seibu-Shinjuku Station

We should also mention that just to the north of the main Shinjuku Station a few blocks is the smaller Seibu-Shinjuku Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line.

Flags Building + Green Peas Pachinko

Around 35°41’23.18″ N 139°42’05.80″ E is an east exit from the station, 2 long escaltors, and a huge department store called Flags. There’s a huge GAP that’s been here for over 20 years.

The Flags Building @ the east exit.

Incredibly, right next to the Flags building is a huge, 8-story pachinko parlor called Green Peas, which even has entire floors of Vegas-style slot machines. There is also a huge Taito Game Station arcade just behind it down a side street.

Courtesy Virtual Japan.tv

Green Peas Pachinko.

Odakyu Depato

Just northwest of the station is the Odakyu Depato (department store) area. There are plenty of things to do here, and there’s a food floor on the top floor, which includes Shinjuku’s part of the latest craze in Tokyo: pancakes. Rainbow Pancake is on the food floor. There are also elevated walkways to other department stores such as Keio just across the street (Keio‘s food basement is one of the best in Tokyo).

The dept. store complex on the west side. Odakyu is the orange bldg. on the right, and just to the right of that, the KEIO dept. store. Further to the left out of view is a huge Bic Camera. The Cocoon bldg. is just behind the camera to the west. The MyLord terrace area is just beind the KEIO bldg. to the east. There are actually 2 Odakyu complexes – the east side one shown here, and the Odakyu/HALC/Bic Camera annex to the north (out of frame to the left). There is also a major bus stop area here.

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Rainbow Pancake on the top floor of Odakyu.

If you’re really into pancakes, also check out Sarabeth’s Lumine Shinjuku just inside the new LUMINE building on top of the station at street level on the north side.

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Giant pie-sized cookies in KEIO‘s food basement.

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Heading in to the east-side Odakyu complex (right). The northern Odakyu/HALC annex is shown here on the left. This photo faces north.

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Standing on the northern Odakyu/HALC annex pedestrian overpass facing east. The huge UNIQLO is on the right.

Central Streets

From the station to the east, there are 3 main streets running west-east which parallel each other a few blocks apart. These are: 1), Yasukuni-Dori 2), Shinjuku-Dori, and 3) Koshu-Kaido Dori (Rt. 20).

By far, the most popular of these is Yasukuni-Dori. Several blocks to the east Meiji-Dori intersects all 3 and runs north-south all the way to the Imperial Palace. In this central area of about 3-4 long blocks, most of the action in Shinjuku happens. The west side is interesting too, but it’s more business/gov’t-oriented. A stroll around the east-side streets at night will floor you with its colors, lights, and dizzing array of things to do.

North Exit + Studio ALTA

The northeast station exit is a popular meeting spot for young people. Just across the street is a building called Studio ALTA with its massive TV display on the outside of the building. If you slip down the small side street to the left at night, you’re in for one of Shinjuku’s nightime delights – a small concrete pedestrian-only area with lots of shops and restaurants. There is also a huge Matsumoto Kiyoshi drug store here, and the rear entrance to the huge Yamada Denki LABi electronics shop (see below). As mentioned above, this is also where the infamous Duckman performs nightly. If you head through the small concrete park, in a few blocks you’ll come to a huge Don Quijote, described next.

Studio ALTA, right. Head down the small side street ahead.

Just north of the north exit. The station entrance is ahead.

Massive Don Quijote on Yasukuni-Dori

On Yasukuni-Dori 2 blocks from the station is a huge Don Quijote discount store. If you’re strolling this street at night, it’s worth a stop in to look around. The place is huge and has multiple floors of just about anything you could want, including a grocery.

Courtesy Nippon Wandering TV

Dazzling streets of east Shinjuku at night.

Heading Further East to Shinjuku Ohdori Shopping District

As a footnote, you can walk or bike all the way east on Rt. 20 back to Yotsuya (about 6 miles) – there are a lot of interesting things to see along Rt. 20 as well as several other subway station stops at various points – most notably Shinjuku-Sanchome Station around 35°41’26.01″ N 139°42’20.84″ E, and Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station – one more stop the east. All of them pop up onto Rt. 20 at various points. The coolest thing about Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station is its little retro 1950’s-styled entrance on the street around 35°41’19.17″ N 139°42’35.28″ E. There is also a large, cheap, excellent APA Hotel just 1 block west on the same side of the street. There is also a huge Tully’s Coffee just across from Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station.

Heading east on Rt. 20 towards Yotsuya. Note the JTB building on the right. Along this route around this area there are also huge massive department stores such as Isetan, OIOI (pronounced Marui), and Takishimaya. This part of Shinjuku is known as the Shinjuku Ohdori Shopping District. There is also a huge Apple Store here. One of the best kept secrets in this area is the hobby shop on the top floor of the OIOI.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower

West a few blocks from the west side of the station is the odd-looking Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower. It’s mostly offices, but there are a few interesting things on the ground floor. It’s a rather small building, so there’s not a lot to do here. But it’s worth walking to it just to have a look at the architecture.

If you head just northwest from the Cocoon, you’ll come to an iconic part of Shinjuku which includes many buildings from famous photos of Tokyo: such as Sampo Japan Building, and others. There is also a massive pedestrian walkway here which allows you to walk around several of the buildings elevated from the streets.

There is also a very nice massive concrete and green park 2 blocks to the west of Cocoon at the Sojibo Shinjuku Mitsui Building around 35°41’30.14″ N 139°41’38.23″ E.

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Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower northwest of the station. KEIO dept. store is behind the camera to the east. If you continue far enough west from here, you’ll come to the Tokyo Metropolitain Government complex which has one of the best observatories in Tokyo.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower at street level facing east.

Outside Takashimaya Times Square. MyLord is the triangular bldg. center left, and beyond that, the Cocoon Bldg.

Tokyo Metropolitain Government

If you continue west for a few blocks, you’ll next pass the Shinjuku Keio Plaza Hotel, and 2 blocks west of that, you’ll come to the Tokyo Metropolitain Government buildings. These twin buildings house the entire central government for Tokyo. There is a massive open-air concrete courtyard surrounding the buildings, and a free observation deck on the top floors – but be warned, because it’s free, there are usually huge lines for the observatory – even on weekdays. Plan on spending several hours in line – more if it’s peak season such as in the spring or late fall.

Electronics (Denki)

The Japanese word for electronics is Denki. There are several huge electronics stores in Shinjuku: There are 2 Yamada Denki LABi stores – one near Studio ALTA mentioned above, and one just west of the MyLord building near the station’s central exit. The one near Studio ALTA is closing soon.

There are 3 huge Bic Camera stores – one in the Odakyu Annex mentioned above, one in the huge UNIQLO store (called BicQLO) around 35°41’29.45″ N 139°42’11.45″ E, and Bic Camera Shinjuku Station East Store just southeast of the Studio ALTA location.

The other big electronics store is the huge Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku West Main Store around 35°41’23.30″ N 139°41’52.96″ E. It’s just a few blocks southeast of the Cocoon Building. There’s also lots of interesting other small shops around the Yodobashi store.

All of the electronics shops are worth a look – if for no other reason than to marvel at their scale and selection.

Yodobashii Camera Shinjuku.

Kinokuniya Book Store

Just across from the BicQLO store mentioned above is a huge Kinokuniya Book Store around 35°41’30.98″ N 139°42’09.99″ E. Kinokuniya is one of the largest book chains in Japan, and this one doesn’t disappoint. If you have any extra time, be sure to pop in and look around. They also have a web store where you can order online.

Takishimaya Times Square + The Bubble Building + Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden + Cafe La Boheme

Just to the south of the station and the Southern Terrace area is the epic Takashimaya Times Square complex – a huge multi-story shopping/food/entertainment complex, TTS is a must-see in Shinjuku. There are also plenty of interesting shops in the complex’s open-air below-ground area, and the large Tokyu Hands department store (depato) on the south side. To get to TTS, go outside to the southern terrace (on the west side of the station) and head south to the large foot bridges which lead to the complex.

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Takashimaya Times Square, left, and the NTT “Bubble building”, right.

Takashimaya Times Square at night.

Just south of TTS is the NTT DoCoMo “Bubble BuildingHQ. It was nicked-named the Bubble Building because it was built during Japan’s “bubble” economy in the late 1980’s-1990’s. The building’s design was inspired by the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York.

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West of TTS is the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – a huge Japanese garden with several ponds, trees, and long walkways. Many of the paths afford excellent photo spots of various parts of Tokyo. There is also a large impressive greenhouse. Admission price is around $6 USD, but it’s worth it. Be sure to check it out.

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Entrance to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

Cafe La Boheme

If you’re in the mood for a brew, just across the street to the north of the greenhouse is the excellent European-themed Cafe La Boheme at 35°41’15.14″ N 139°42’46.09″ E. If you love coffee + have the time, be sure to check it out – it’s excellent.

Shinjuku Historical Museum

If you’re willing to walk a few more miles northwest, around 35°41’23.90″ N 139°43’31.25″ E you’ll find the Shinjuku Historical Museum (see Totally Drew’s video below).

Courtesy Totally Drew

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2ZCoVSVSnQ

Samurai Museum

To the north of the station a bit (oddly in a seedy nightclub area) around 35°41’43.84″ N 139°42’12.63″ E, is the excellent Samurai Museum Shinjuku. This is one of the best samurai museums in Tokyo, and you can even buy swords and take caligraphy lessons there if you want.

Walking to Other Parts of Tokyo from Shinjuku

As mentioned, you can actually walk to other parts of Tokyo (or ride a bike) such as Yotsuya or Akasaka. Ebisu is just to the south and worth a walk. Plan on a few hours, however, and the walk east is a quite a ways. On bike it will take about 30-45 minutes.

Yoyogi is just to the south also, and Nakano just to the northwest.

Food

There are so many food options in Shinjuku it’s hard to know where to start. The options are endless. There are conbini (convenience stores) in the station and they are all good. There are many good places just outside the station, and there are huge and upscale restaurants in the area and in TTS.

The Maple Diner waffle shop near the MyLord building.

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Kinokuniya Entreé conbini near the Saikyo Line in the station.

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HOKUO the Garden also in the station.

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Watch them carbs.

Shake Shack @ Southern Terrace.

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Soup Stock Tokyo.

Courtesy Virtual Japan.tv

American Bar + Grill, TGI Friday’s jammed down some side street.

More cool places hidden down side alleys.

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Food Hall BLAST! – 2 blocks west of TTS.

Sanagi Shinjuku Food Hall

http://sanagi.tokyo/

3 Food Halls Where You Can Casually Dine in Shinjuku – Shinjuku Guide

A Happy Pancake Shinjuku @ 35°41’26.01″ N 139°42’13.58″ E.

The world-famous Omoide Yokocho Alley around 35°41’33.97″ N 139°41’58.12″ E.

Taming The Beast

Shinjuku is one of the biggest, busiest, and most overwhelming parts of Tokyo – you could easily spend several days exploring it all and not see everything. It’s a must-see part of Tokyo, so plan on spending a few days at least seeing it.

Conclusion

We can’t recommend Shinjuku enough – and you absolutely can’t miss it if you’re in Tokyo. From the station area to vast electronics stores, depatos, the TMG + Cocoon buildings, and the streets, there is more than enough to do here. Be astounded, and be amazed.

Enjoy!

Additional Photos

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The fire trucks are coming up around the bend. You live, you learn. The NTT “Bubble Building” towers in the distance at dusk.

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A typical exit info sign in Shinjuku Station.

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Inside the Odakyu complex heading down into the station below.

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The Yamanote Line heading north for Ikebukuro and Omiya.

Facing the Odakyu/KEIO complex from the taxi stand @ the west side of the station.

Also @ the west side of the station.

At the LUMINE/NewWoman side of the renovations at street level.

The Odakyu Line cuts through the Shinjuku night.

Courtesy Nippon Wandering TV

One of many endless excellent restaurants on the backstreets.

There are endless things to discover on the streets of Shinjuku.

A hidden place to park your bike for free in a small underpass.

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Stumbling around Shinjuku’s streets in the dark, every once in a while the perfect photo opportunity hits you smack in the face.

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Or if you prefer – the B+W version.

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Inside Odakyu HALC. This ain’t Walmart.

Outside Odakyu HALC.

Inside Shinjuku Station near MyLord.

Epic view outside Shinjuku Station. LUMINE is on the left, and MyLord is just behind the camera on the left.

On Southern Terrace. MyLord is just ahead behind the trees. The huge bldg. on the left used to be Microsoft‘s Japan HQ.

LINKS

Shinjuku Station – Wikipedia

Shinjuku Station

Shōnan–Shinjuku Line – Wikipedia

Shinjuku Station Building Facilities

Seibu-Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Guide

Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center

Sightseeing Without Baggage|Sagawa

Shinjuku Shopping Guide | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

JTB USA

Shinjuku Area Overview – Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Southern Terrace – Wikipedia

southernterrace.jp

TOKYO POCKET GUIDE

Tokyo Metropolitain Government

Keio Department Store, Shinjuku

Shinjuku Mylord – Shinjuku Guide

Shinjuku Marui Honkan (OIOI)

Hotels near Shinjuku Station

5 Must-Try Restaurants in Shinjuku Mylord

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

新宿御苑 Shinjuku-Gyoen | Cafe La Boheme

Quick Guide to Shinjuku’s Department Stores

Takashimaya Square

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

https://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/takashimaya-shinjuku

https://tokyocheapo.com/place/takashimaya-times-square/

Sarabeth’s Lumine Shinjuku

Don Quijote

Don Quijote | Shopping in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Yoyogi

https://www.samuraimuseum.jp/

VIDS

The main area to the northeast. The huge Don Quijote store is shown in this thumbnail on the right.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kln6afdUpH4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va5yljaIObE

Tokyo Station Superguide Part 1: Marunouchi

Name: Tokyo Station

Kind: Station/Multi-use

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°40’49.41″ N 139°46’07.51″ E

Station: Tokyo Station

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? Don’t miss it.

Updated 6/20/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Tokyo Station is Tokyo’s showplace train station + vast multiuse complex.

Renovated + expanded in 2012 the area is an entire city unto itself. In fact, there’s an entire area inside called Tokyo Station City (TSC) – most of it underground beneath and around the station. There are several subdevelopments inside such as TSC, GRANRoof (an elevated outdoor walkway), 1st Avenue underground mall, and others. A new high-rise development just northeast is being planned called Tokyo Torch, which when completed will be Japan’s tallest building. TSC also has its own YouTube channel. Check out the Tokyo Colors.2015 Teaser movie.

There are also huge food palaces, and a large street-level shopping complex with various depatos (department stores), the largest of which is DAIMARU. Inside the station in many areas, there are endless food courts and high-end restaurants + cafés.

Tokyo Station hosts a huge number of train lines and is one of the central departure points for many of Japan’s high speed Shinkansen (bullet trains – shinkansen literally means “new rapid line”). The main lines are Japan Railways (JR) lines, and other lines such as Keio, Tokyo Metro subway and others. You can get to just about any place in the Tokyo region on regular and express trains, and to other parts of Japan on shinkansen.

The station is centered in the central business district called Marunouchi (literally “Imperial Palace Grounds Circle”) in Tokyo just east of the Imperial Palace.

The area is too huge + vast to cover everything so we’ll just hit the major features and points of interest here. To truly experience the station + area, you’ll have to plan on spending a few days walking or biking around.

There are 2 sides to the station – the older but renovated brick side on the west called the Marunouchi side, and the newer, more modern east side called the Yaesu (pronounced ‘Yah-eh-soo’) side (named after one of Japan’s only foreign Samurai, Jan Joosten, or simply Yayōsu for short, from the 17th century) . There are only 2 internal passages which connect the 2 sides the Yaesu North Passage on the north side of the station, and the Yaesu Central Passage in the middle of the station. The two major shinkansen entry areas are also in the center of the station slightly towards the east side. There is also the Yokosuka-Sobu Line Rapid Line to Narita Airport on the west side.

There is actually a smaller 3rd side called the Nihombashi Entrance on the far northeast corner of the station. This entrance/exit is largely used for busses, but if you need to go north of the station, this is the exit to take. There is also a luggage delivery service and a few cafés inside along with coin lockers (see below).

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Northwest (Marunouchi) side of the station + entrance. There is also a luggage forwarding + a large tourist info office just inside.

Tokyo Station and the Marunouchi area are incredibly spectacular + clean and are the showplace of Tokyo. You won’t want to miss it for anything.

Also on the west side right in the center of the station is the incredibly luxurious and ornate Tokyo Station Hotel, which runs about $400/night.

At the very south entrance on the west side there is also a small Koban (police box). There isn’t much else on the exterior of the west side – most of the interesting points are inside, or in the surrounding area. The west side facadé was renovated in 2012, along with the ornate northwest entrance area which has soaring Victorian ceilings.

An important point of interest to note is that the quickest way to get from Tokyo Station to the west side of the city (to Shinjuku) is on an express line called the JR Chuo Line which departs Tokyo Station and only makes 5 stops on the way to Shinjuku (which is the busiest train station in Tokyo and in the world).

One word of warning: the interior of the station, its passageways, tunnels, platforms, shopping, and routes to other areas can be daunting. You can easily get lost or walk for hours underground. Sometimes it can take over an hour to get to a particular platform or train line.

In this article we’ll cover only the Marunouchi side and the western surrounding area. See Part 2 for the east Yaesu side.

Access

Nearly all lines in Tokyo lead one way or another to Tokyo Station. There are so many lines + platforms in the station it’s impossible to list them all here. Check out the JR Tokyo Station website or the TSC website for a complete list of lines + maps.

On foot or bike Tokyo Station is an easy walk from many of the other parts of the city: Akihabara and Kanda to the north, Yurakucho + Ginza to the south, Otemachi which is just to the north, or even Ueno further north. From Ueno you can even walk to Tokyo Dome City. The JR Yamanote Line runs to Kanda, Akihabara, Ueno, Nippori, and Yurakucho/Ginza.

There are also dozens of sidewalk street-level portals in the area which lead down into the station. Don’t forget that when you are walking around the streets, below you the station is everywhere.

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A station street portal.

There are 2 main streets running north-south on the west side of the station and both are interesting walks. There are endless hotels, shops, business, skyscrapers, and cafés everywhere. You can stroll around for hours and not see it all.

Shuttles

There is also a free Marunouchi Shuttle with an app, but the app is in Japanese only currently. The TSC site has a complete list of all shuttles.

Area Layout

Overhead view facing north. The station with tracks runs north-south shown right of center. The Yurakucho area (see below) at the bottom, and the Imperial Palace is in the upper left corner. The 2 parks are to the center left and lower left. Out of view to the lower right is Ginza. The Marunouchi area is to the top, center.

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The central Marunouchi (west) side of Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Station Hotel is in the center. When Tokyo Torch is completed, it will be just to the left of the skyscrapers shown above.

The south entrance on the west side. Note the turret architecture that was popular in Japan in the early 1900’s when the station was built.

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Also inside the north entrance is a central information booth.

Facing west into the Marunouchi area at the south end of the station. There is a spectacular view of the entire area from the rooftop observation deck in the KITTE building on the left. If you head left (south) from here in a few blocks you will come to Yurakucho. Marunouchi Plaza (see next) is just on the right out of frame.

Marunouchi Plaza

Outside the west side of the station is an astonishing large open air plaza called Marunouchi Plaza. It’s mostly just a walking + photo area but provides epic views of the station. There is also a small Metro subway portal here. If you head further west across the street there’s another long paved walkway leading to the Imperial Palace. In the fall the Ginko trees along this walkway turn a brilliant yellow. If you’re there in the fall, don’t miss it.

The epic vista of Marunouchi Plaza facing west. The Imperial Palace is straight ahead.

Another view of Marunouchi Plaza. In the fall the Ginko trees shown here turn a brilliant yellow in a spectacular nature show. The white bldg. on the far left was built in the 1970’s and on it’s ground floor is the largest  Store in Tokyo.

Just to the north and south of the 2nd walkway, there are 2 parks worth checking out around 35°40’57.67″ N 139°45’38.80″ E. To the south is the huge Kōkyogaien National Garden, and to the north a small concrete park with a large fountain called Wadakura Fountain Park. There are various other spectacular hotels around the area.

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Ginko trees in the fall to the west of Tokyo Station.

KITTE + Observation Deck.

At the south end of the plaza, there’s a large white bldg. called KITTE. It offers several levels of indoor shops, food, and a spectacular open-air rooftop garden affording epic views of the station. It’s a breathtaking view and not to be missed. Just enter on the north side and take the escalator up. Totally Drew has a nice vid of the deck in the vid section below. KITTE also has a nice tourist + business info office with people ready to assist you, should the need arise.

Also currently just across the street from KITTE is Tokyo’s largest  Store, in a very retro-70’s style office building at street level.

South to Yurakucho

If you head south past KITTE on side streets, in just a few blocks you’ll be in the Yurakucho/Ginza area, and you’ll pass the nice Tokyo International Forum along the way. Both Yurakucho/Ginza, and Akihabara/Kanda are easy walks from the station.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

2 blocks to the southeast is a huge museum called the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum. The entire 3-story building is done in early British/American colonial brick style and is a must-see. The museum mostly offers rotating collections of paintings + other artwork. There is also a very nice café + garden.

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Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

Food

There is endless food at and around Tokyo Station. From ramen joints to deluxe upscale resturants to food courts, you won’t be able to decide. The station is full of food stalls, shops, a central store area with shops selling sweets, delicacies, and all kinds of meals. There are also food courts in the underground tunnels at various intervals.

Perhaps the biggest food extraveganza at Tokyo Station is the food tower in the DAIMARU depato (department store), but that is on the Yaesu (east) side so we’ll save that for Part 2.

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The central shops area inside the station which includes dessert places such as TokyoMe+.

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There are also endless large complexes on the streets around the station such as M Lounge just to the northeast.

1st Avenue Underground Mall

In approximately the center of the west side inside the station near the shops is the entrance to a large underground mall called 1st Avenue. The mall is vast and has all kinds of shops, although many of them such as the Pokemon and LEGO stores seem to be targeted at kids. Still worth a quick look.

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Coin Lockers

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There are several huge banks of coin lockers inside Tokyo Station. Some are along corridors between platforms and areas, but the largest banks are on the west side across from the central shops area, and near the entrances to the shinkansen areas. You can drop your stuff in them to lighten your load, or when traveling on trains, but it will cost you. Small lockers run about $8 USD/24 hours, large ones can cost as much as $14-$19/24 hours. They also accept Tokyo’s Suica IC payment card. To use them, drop your stuff in, then lock it and take the key if there is one. If not, use the touch-screen panel to select + secure your locker. You generally pay when you return to unlock and retrieve your items. Some lockers do require you to pay in advance. Lockers can also come in handy when transporting luggage coming/going to airports or other cities. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can find dirt cheap street lockers around Tokyo as low as $4/day such as this hidden bank in Ueno:

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Otemachi to the Northwest

Just to the northwest is a small sister city area called Otemachi. It’s also part of the business district and in fact, is connected underground to Tokyo Station by long vast tunnels + walkways. You can walk in about 45 minutes, but the path underground is complex and requires you to traverse several different levels, shopping centers, stairs, escalators, and walkways. So be prepared. There are also lots of things to see and do around Otemachi including mixed-use complexes such as Otemachi One and Ootemori. But this leads us to the final topic for this post…

Hanzomon Hell

The Hanzomon Line is a Tokyo Metro subway which runs east-west near Tokyo Station and which can be accessed underground in both Tokyo Station and Otemachi Station. But this is where it gets tricky: The Hanzomon Line station is on the far side of Otemachi, but signs underground in Tokyo Station point your way there. The hard part is that many of the Hanzomon Line signs in Tokyo Station merely list the distance to the next part of the path you have to follow. Just when you think you’re there, you have to walk another 350 meters – multiple times. In fact, it’s several miles of walking on a convoluted path to get from Tokyo Station to the actual Hanzomon Line platform in Otemachi Station. So, if you decide to go this route, be prepared for serious walking. On the upside, there are a lot of interesting things along the way and lots of food courts, cafés and other places to stop and rest if need be. This walk is generally known among expats as Hanzomon Hell because it’s no quick trip even though the signs would lead you to believe otherwise. So, we’re just warning you: be prepared to walk. A lot.

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Walking from Tokyo Station to the Hanzomon Line in Otemachi underground – aka Hanzomon Hell.

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Ootemori

Conclusion

Tokyo Station/Marunouchi is one of the most spectacular areas of Tokyo and is not to be missed at any cost. If you want to see just one area of Tokyo, this is it. It’s huge, elegant, spotless, awe-inspiring, and astonishing. It’s an experience you’re not likely to forget in your lifetime. A must-see.

In Part 2, we’ll cover the eastern, more lively, Yaesu side of the station.

Additional Photos

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Another view of the KITTE building from the north.

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To the northwest side of the plaza there are several large multi-use/shopping centers. Very upscale.

tourist info office
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The JR luggage forwarding/pickup office just inside the northwest entrance. You can have your luggage forwarded from airports/hotels for a fee and pick it up here. And vice-versa when leaving. The tourist info office is on the opposite side behind the camera. There are other luggage services around the station such as Sagawa Express.

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Inside the newly rennovated northwest entrance. The main gate entrance is on the right, and the Yaesu side passage is ahead.

One of the shinkansen entrances.

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The vastness around Marunouchi that is corporate Japan.

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There are plenty of interesting things to see and do around Otemachi just a few blocks from Tokyo Station as well.

There are several street-level area maps such as this one in various places outside the station.

Another view of Marunouchi Plaza facing west.

Marunouchi Plaza facing southwest.

Imperial Palace Moat facing west.

Watch out – it’s the Roast Caramel Market.

Another view of the north entrance.

LINKS

Tokyo Station – Wikipedia

Tokyo Station Map

Tokyo Station City

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi7bZHckQlThRDOBLd1mfGQ/videos

Tokyo Station Shopping Guide

Complete Guide to Tokyo Station – LIVE JAPAN

Tokyo Station Area Guide

Discover Tokyo Station and our station map- Your Japan Rail Pass

The Prime Info Spot for your Sightseeing Needs: “Tokyo City i” Tourist Information Center

Narita – Tokyo: choosing your itinerary | Japan Rail Pass

JR Yamanote Line: Tokyo Station to Tamachi | Japan Rail Pass

https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-city-guides/japan-stations/tokyo-station

A day out at Tokyo Station – WAttention.com

https://trulytokyo.com/daimaru-department-store/

https://www.gotokyo.org/en/spot/623/index.html

https://trulytokyo.com/daimaru-department-store/

KITTE | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

KITTE Marunouchi

https://marunouchi.jp-kitte.jp/gb/information.jsp

Tokyo Station Hotel

23 of the most popular souvenirs

https://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/en/

All hotels in Tokyo

TOKYO TORCH|Mitsubishi Estate Office Information

Live Tokyo Webcams

VIDS

This vid gives a gorgeous, haunting view of the station and area in 4K.

This video gives great 4K views of the malls under Tokyo Station.

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 8/4/2021

©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 southwest.

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 just 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.

Mitsukoshi building.

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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”).

Apple Ginza.

Tokyu Plaza

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. It’s just to the south of the Yurakucho area.

Across from Tokyu Plaza Ginza at night.

Inside Tokyu Plaza there is a café with soaring ceilings and this awesome view.

Tokyu Plaza Ginza entrance at night.

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The Hermes Building across from Tokyu Plaza Ginza.

Milky 70 Ice cream shop around 35°40’21.43″ N 139°45’48.96″ E.

Ginza Six

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:

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

Namiki-Dori is one of many avenues running east-west in Ginza. Yurakucho is just a few blocks to the right. There is also a Metro Ginza subway portal on the corner.

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. This area is called Yurakucho Concourse and is directly under the train tracks to the east side of the station.

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Yurakucho Concourse.

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 Shiodomé 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. The theater was destroyed by World War 2 Allied bombing but was rebuilt. There is also a tiny Japanese garden on the theater’s rooftop. Well worth a stop to check out some of traditional Japan. Shows are expensive – expect to pay a few hundred dollars. 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.

Ginza Sony Park + Design Museum Box

Near the Hermes Bldg. shown above is the interesting Ginza Sony Park. There’s a cool little underground museum called Design Museum Box down a staircase at street level right next to the Hermes Bldg. Worth a quick look. There’s also a newly opened PlayStation museum in the basement.

Head down this starwell for the Design Museum Box.

Courtesy Totally Drew

Matsuya Ginza Depato

Just down the street from the Wako Bldg. is the great Matsuya Ginza department store (depato in Japanese). The food basement (Depachika) is really awesome and has lots of nice gifts + stuff to eat.

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Entrance to Matsuya Ginza.

Another view of the Tokyu Plaza entrance.

At the Wako Bldg (right) facing south.

On a Ginza street at dusk. The Oslo Coffee shop is just on the left.

©2019 tenmintokyo.com
©2019 tenmintokyo.com

Endless adventures await you on the backstreets of Ginza.

©2019 tenmintokyo.com

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

https://www.ginzasonypark.jp/e/

Shinkansen @ Yūrakuchō Station near Ginza

Hibiya – Tokyo’s Elegant Walk

Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum – Wikipedia

Wako Building

Matsuya Ginza

https://ginza6.tokyo/

Tokyu Plaza Ginza has a rooftop co-working space – and it’s free

Ginza Japanese Cuisine on the App Store

Kit-Kat Chocolatory

A Must-Visit Hidden Gem in Ginza: The Showa Retro Café Ginza

Cafe Paulista in Ginza: Japan’s oldest existing kissaten is model for coffee shops across the country

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbg_HgQKxd0

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.

Ikebukuro Superguide

Name: Ikebukuro

Kind: Town

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°44’05.39″ N 139°42’27.83″ E

Station: JR Ikebukuro Station, Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Marunouchi Line, Yurakucho Line, Fukutoshin Line

Worth it? A must-see.

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑

Updated 4/10/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Also see our guide to Ikebukuro Underground.

Ikebukuro is a hip, quirky hang out spot in central western Tokyo. Smaller than Shibuya or Shinjuku, it’s often overlooked by tourists. Ikebukuro has a fun small-town vibe, yet still feels cosmopolitain enough to be exciting. There is more than plenty to do. In fact, you could spend a few days in Ikebukuro and barely scratch the surface. Around every corner + down every side street is something surprising + interesting. The fact that it’s not overcrowded the way other major areas of Tokyo are only adds to it charm.

Access

To get to Ikebukuro you have several options: the JR Yamanote or Saikyo Lines, the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, or Marunouchi Line, Yurakucho Line, or Fukutoshin Line on the Tokyo Metro.

You can also walk or bike to Ikebukuro from Shinjuku to the south, or from Itabashi to the north. The walk from Itabashi is just over 1 mile.

You can also walk from Meijiro Station 1 stop south on the Yamanote Line along a quiet charming side street which runs north-south along the train tracks.

JR Ikebukuro Station

The main station is located in the 1st floor + basement of the PARCO depato (department store) in the main station. The Metro lines also exit this station. Just to the south in the SEIBU depato is the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Station. All of them are centrally located in Ikebukuro and are very convenient. There are also several street-level station portals on sidewalks all over the town as shown here:

Courtesy Totally Drew

One of many street-level station entrances.

Courtesy Totally Drew

On the JR Ikebukuro platform, you can purchase a Suica IC card for fares from these machines.

Area Layout

Ikebukuro is centrally arranged with an east, west, north, and south side. The stations are on the main thoroughfare running north-south through the town. The station in the photo above is in the center, the main street is just to the right running north-south, West Gate Park is to the left, center. At the very top center is a huge waste recycling plant with its telltale tall cracking tower. To the east are a dizzying array of side streets with endless shops + restaurants. Just to the east of that out of frame is the Sunshine City complex and 2 Ikebukuro parks (Minami-Ikebukuro Park).

View from the WTC building in west Tokyo facing west: Ikebukuro is the small city in the distance on the right, Shinjuku several miles to the south is on the left in the distance. Just behind Shinjuku, barely visible on the left is Mt. Fuji.

West Side

The town is roughly divided into east, west, and north ends. The south end holds a few interesting spots, but as soon as you leave the main area east of the station, it’s mostly residential. You can get from the east side to the west and vice versa by passing directly through the center of JR Ikebukuro Station.

West Gate Park

At the West Gate Exit is a popular meeting spot called West Gate Park. The area was also the title of a popular dorama (drama) TV series in Japan. Also in West Gate Park just to the north of the west gate is a JR Tourist Information Office – which has English-speaking staff. You can also reserve bus tours in the office.

West Gate Park is a large area to the west of the station. There are all sorts of restaurants, cafés, shops, and other attractions. About a block further east are a Bic Camera annex and a block beyond that a OIOI (pronounced Marui) depato. In the OIOI is a very nice Seria 100¥ shop.

OIOI (Marui).

Global Ring + Esola

Just to the south of West Gate Park is a new outdoor performing art center called Global Ring. It was finished in 2020. There is also a café here. Further south is the Metropolitain Theater. 1 block south of that is a very nice MOS Burger.

Also in West Gate Park is a street entrance to the oddly named underground shopping mall Hope Center.

To the north of West Gate Park are endless backstreets. If you head northeast in this direction, you come to a small tunnel north of the station which heads to the east side of the town.

Also on the west side, a few blocks north of the OIOI is the world-famous Sakura Hostel – which although spartan is known for its dirt cheap prices, and fairly clean atmosphere. If you want to stay cheap in Ikebukuro, this is your spot. Sakura Hostel is also known for its huge outdoor seating area for guests. You don’t get much in the way of ammenities – most beds are mere bunks in shared rooms, but for the incredibly cheap price, it’s worth it.

Ikebukuro is also home to some of the largest electronics shops in Tokyo – including Bic Camera, Yamada Denki, and Sofmap.

Just south of West Gate Park is a shopping area called Esola. Check out the Coffee Roasters Laboratory on the ground floor. There’s also another Metro entrance here. Just beyond Esola is the LUMINE complex and MOS Burger.

Here are a few photos from the west side:

Ikebukuro West Gate Park. The JR East Travel Service Center is straight ahead.

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JR East Travel Service Center

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Just south of West Gate Park facing north. Turn left at the next street for OIOI City and the Sakura Hostel. Flip 45 degrees left from this image and you will see Global Ring on your left:

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Facing west, the Metropolitan Theater is the bldg. with the sloped roof straight ahead. The 2nd Bic Camera Annex is the bldg. on the far right. Global Ring is on the far left. Global Ring was built on the real former Ikebukuro West Gate Park – an area which previously had a large fountain. Now the entire area has been replaced by Global Ring.

Facing southeast from the Global Ring area. The Esola complex is straight ahead. The MOS Burger is 2 blocks to the right.

Just beyond Global Ring is the Esola complex (left) and LUMINE (right). LUMINE + TOBU complexes have excellent food courts on their top floors. Don’t miss ’em. LUMINE was formerly called Metropolitain Plaza.

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Inside the station.

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

On the JR Saikyo Line platform behind the PARCO depato.

OIOI City west of the station facing west. Turn right here for the Sakua Hostel.

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Seria in OIOI City.

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The west Bic Camera Annex a block east of OIOI City.

East SideEndless Shopping + Restaurants + Sunshine City

The east side of the station is considerably more interesting. Not only is there a main street which runs north to south which has a myriad of shops, cafés, and resturants on it, but there’s an entire area east of that that is really interesting (Sunshine60 Street).

There’s PARCO + SEIBU depatos, and Bic Camera and other denki (electronics) shops on the north end of the street, but the south end of the street also has lots of coffee shops + restaurants.

Sunshine City

Inside underground @ Sunshine City.

To the far east of Sunshine60 Street is a huge skyscraper and complex called Sunshine City. The area’s big attraction is Sunshine 60 – which until recently was one of the tallest skyscrapers in Japan. It has a top-floor observatory not to be missed. There is also a western Mailboxes Etc. CMRA on one of the top floors if you need to get a local mailbox or mail anything to the west.

Hidden away in the basement of Sunshine City is a vast mult-floor shopping mall. You can spend hours in here – and it’s so huge it’s easy to get lost. There is also another entrance to the mall on the east end of the major side street next to the the Tokyu Hands store.

As a historical footnote many locals believe Sunshine 60 to be haunted because after World War 2, the Japanese imperial army general Tojo was executed there. Several Japanese have committed suicide by jumping from its roof. There is also a very nice small park next to the area where you can kick back and chill. Sunshine City is around 35°43’45.15″ N 139°43’05.09″ E.

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Entrance to Sunshine City.

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Street view from Sunshine City‘s 60th floor.

Entrance to Sunshine City Annex on Sunshine60 Street.

To get to Sunshine60 Street, head south from JR Ikebukuro Staiton, turn left (east) at 35°43’48.45″ N 139°42’46.56″ E 2 blocks down, follow the sidewalk as it winds east, then cross at the Milky Way Café and head straight. Make note of this sidewalk and the small alley off it to the left for later below

This puts you right into Sunshine60 Street – the main shopping street. As you come to the end, turn right, then left again for Sunshine City. There is also an entrance to the underground mall part of Sunshine City about a block before the final right turn. You can’t miss it – it has a huge sign on the front of the bldg. next to the Tokyu Hands depato also on the right.

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Main street in east Ikebukuro. Meiji-Dori runs north-south. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left. The white bldg. with the red sign on the left is Bic Camera. Just to the southeast is Yamada Denki (LABi). SEIBU + PARCO depatos are on the far left of the frame above the stations. The street to the left of Bic Camera leads to dozens of other interesting side streets on the north side of town.

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A closer view of the PARCO bldg. on the east side. The JR station entrance is at the bottom of the bldg.

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There’s also a Becker’s burger place just at the east exit of the station.

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SEIBU Ikebukuro Station just south of the JR entrance above.

If you head down this street just across from the JR east station exit, you will discover a wealth of interesting small side streets.

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Entrance to Sunshine60 Street @ the Milky Way Café, right. At the end of this street turn right for Sunshine City.

New South Ikebukuro Park

Around 35°43’41.35″ N 139°43’17.74″ E – just east of Sunshine City is brand new South Ikebukuro Park. Completed in 2020, this stunning new park offers a huge green lawn, a café on the north end, and a large bike parking lot to the south. It’s just 1 block east of Sunshine City so if you’re in the area, check it out:

Courtesy tkviper
Courtesy Nippon Wandering TV

The underground bike park just to the south of South Ikebukuro Park.

Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP)

In the basement of the station and under the east side of the streets is a small mall called Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP). There are portals to ISP in the station just before the east exit, as well as one on the sidewalk outside the station and in the middle of the crosswalk facing east. Most of ISP is underground.

Q plaza

About 1/2 way down the main side street to the east is another new complex called Q plaza. Well worth a stop. Lots of good cafés, and a CAPCOM store + café on the 4th floor. The sides streets all around this area are charming to explore and worth a walk. Plan on spending a whole day in the area.

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Food

There are endless food options around Ikebukuro. 2 really awesome places are Darcy’s Beer + Burger and Coffee Valley. Darcy’s has a triple-decker hamburger that is out of this world for $12. Not to be missed. We did a review of both places above. There are also no less than three Mr. Donut places around town – 2 on the West Gate Park side, and 1 older one tucked away on a backstreet on the east side. Not particularly healthy, but delicious. There are also endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places, and of course, the aforementioned MOS Burger. There’s also a Tully’s Coffee in Q plaza as well as a nice café called Peace and Lamb.

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Food Courts

Japan’s food courts are a throwback to 1950’s-style dining. There are some on the top floors of depatos such as TOBU + SEIBU, and there are other standalone bldgs. which are all restaurants top to bottom. There’s no lack of good dining in Ikebukuro. In particular the food court in TOBU Ikebukuro is awesome – there’s a really great Hawaiian burger place, and lots of other restuarants. PARCO also has a food court + rooftop beer garden. Of course there are endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places everywhere. As well as fast food.

TOBU also has a basement Depachika (short for “depato basement”) – a huge food floor below ground level which is especially good. Here you can get everything from seafood, to packaged gift food, to deserts. If you’re in Ikebukuro definitely check out the food basement in TOBU.

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Food court on top floor of TOBU on the west side.

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Don’t worry – walking 15 miles/day sightseeing in Tokyo and you’ll burn it all off.

Pancakes – The New Tokyo Craze

A new food craze has hit Tokyo – pancake shops. They’re everywhere. In Ikebukuro there are several good ones but the 2 best are A Happy Pancake and

Around 35°43’48.11″ N 139°42’46.90″ E at the small side street mentioned above, turn left (north) into a small alley and a few stores down you’ll come to A Happy Pancake. This small underground shop has great food. Careful going down the stairs to the basement: they’re steep and there’s no handrail.

In the SEIBU depato a few blocks to the west is Rainbow Pancake – also a must-visit. Both are excellent, and worth the trip. All-in-all we would rate AHP best, but it’s up to you to decide on taste. There is also another AHP in Omotosando.

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If it’s pancakes you want, Tokyo’s got ’em. Lots of ’em.

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There are lots of other pancake places all over Tokyo. Get ready to eat.

Micro Food Stalls

All over Tokyo in stations + in other places you’ll see these tiny little food places everywhere. Most stations have them, and Ikebukuro Station is no different.

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The Japanese love contractions and in this case “Press Butter Sand” means “Pressed Butter Sandwich”.

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Food Trucks

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There are also lots of tiny micro food trucks in Tokyo – such as this crepe truck in Ikebukuro.

Courtesy Tokyo Night Walker

On the east-side backstreets is this great Italian restaurant – Palermo.

Courtesy Tokyo Night Walker

Just next to the oldest of the Mr. Donuts – on the east side – is a small concrete park with lots of food. One of the best places among them is the Saikyou Butter Coffee Shop.

North Side

On the north side the streets are a little less lively but interesting nonetheless. To the northeast just a few blocks is a small concrete park surrounded by restaurants and a large performing arts theather – Brilla Hall. This entire area is being renovated as of 2021. There are endless small side streets in the north end worth exploring. There are in fact, 2 more major north-south streets in the north area full of shops. Both entrances are around 35°43’54.13″ N 139°42’34.12″ E.

More Discount Stores: Don Quijotes + CAN ⭑ DO

Aside from Seria, there are several other discount stores in Ikebukuro. There are 2 Don Quijotes: 1 just northwest of the station, and another just east of the east exit right across the street. There is also a CAN ⭑ DO discount store just south down the street on the east side. Both Don Quijote + CAN ⭑ DO have some good cheap food selections + snacks.

The Don Quijote just to the northwest of the station.

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The east-side Don Quijote across from the station is huge. The food basement is quite good.

Meiji-Dori to Itabashi

You can also walk north on Ikebukuro’s main street on the west side – Meiji-Dori a few miles north to the small town of Itabashi.

Hotels

There are plenty of good hotels in Ikebukuro which won’t break the bank. We recommend checking agoda.com for rates. One of the best, of course, is the APA hotel, which is very clean + upscale but under $70/night in most cases. It is however a bit further to the northwest but can be easily walked from in a few blocks. There is the aforementioned Sakura Hostel, which is great if you’re on a budget. There is also the Hotel Metropolitan – which is upscale and very good, but much more expensive at around $130/night. There is also Sunshine City Prince Hotel.

For Cat Lovers It’s Nekobukuro

The weird cat obsession that is gripping Japan can be found at several cat cafés all over the city, but in Ikebukuro the place for cats is Nekobukuro Cat’s House (ねこぶくろ) – a petting zoo for cats located on the eighth floor of the Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands store. If you’re into cats check out their site at https://nekobukuro.com/ Tokyu Hands is just at the end of the east side street in the small Sunshine City building across from Victoria’s Sports around 35°43’48.45″ N 139°43’00.02″ E.

Victoria’s Sports across the street from Sunshine City.

Conclusion

Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas and is a thrill to visit. A must-see. There’s so much to do here plan on spending a couple of days. There are endless places to eat + things to do, yet the area is not so huge that’s it’s overwhelming like some other parts of Tokyo.

Enjoy!

Additional Photos

Facing north just outside the east JR station exit.

Night view from West Gate Park facing south. Global Ring is in the center.

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LUMINE complex.

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Inside LUMINE complex.

At the north end of West Gate Park is this side street. If you turn right here, then left, you’ll find the entrance to the small tunnel which leads to the east side of the station:

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Turn right at the tunnel entrance a few yards ahead to get to the east side.

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As you exit the tunnel on the east side, you’ll see the PARCO building shown here. If you turn south from here, you’ll see the main larger PARCO bldg. and just beyond that, the east entrance to JR Ikebukuro Station.

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Northeast side at night. Yamada Denki is the tall bldg. on the right.

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An early morning West Gate Park tourist breakfast: some ham, a few croissants, a conbini (convenience store) hot dog, a BOSS Coffee and a pint of milk. Rice-fed cows’ milk in Japan tastes like a bowl of Rice Chex cereal, unlike milk in the west. Contrary to popular perception in the west, you can eat pretty cheap in Japan, although it’s not optimally healthy.

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View of Shinjuku from the roof of Sunshine City. Just beyond, barely visible in the distance is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama 40 miles to the southwest.

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Inside Sunshine 60’s observatory – which affords spectacular views of Tokyo in all directions. Looking out the window shown here to the right provides a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree.

An epic panorama facing west. On the far right is Ikebukuro to the north, the tallest bldg. of which is Sunshine 60, and Shinjuku on the far left to the south. If you look closely, the farthest left bldg. on the main skyline is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building (Yoyogi is just south of Shinjuku). The large white object in the right center is Tokyo Dome to the east. You can walk to all 3 areas, but the distance from one to another is quite a hike and would take a couple of hours.

Tokyo Sky Tree lies 16 miles to the east near the Sumida River.

Phone map of Ikebukuro. The station is in the center.

Facing northeast. The station is out of view to the left (west). Turn right at the bottom of the photo for the main side street with shops. A Happy Pancake is just down a tiny alley next to the brown bldg. on the right side of the frame. The first Bic Camera Annex is just to the left of the alley. Yamada Denki is the large white bldg. on the far left of the frame. If you head down the side street to the right of the next bldg. you’ll find Coffee Valley. The older Mr. Donut is also down here. The small green-roofed object in the lower left corner is the entrance to the undergorund Ikebukuro Shopping Park (ISP).

The end of the side street on the east side. Head right (south) here to get to Sunshine City.

Another view of the Milky Way Café, left, facing south. Turn left here for Sunshine City and the main side street. Heading straight ahead to the south eventually brings you to Shinjuku.

YA view of the Milky Way Café.

Just left of the Mily Way Café facing north.

Tokyu Hands entrance just next to the Sunshine City Annex.

The ISP street entrance just east of the JR station.

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Entrance to another side street in Ikebukuro which runs north-south.

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Entrance to Yamada Denki, on the east side. The small yellow boxes are Gatchapon dispensers – which sell very popular small toys.

A large NAMCO arcade.

Another view of Q plaza.

Hidin’ on the backstreets.

Courtesy Tokyo Night Walker

Looking back west from the east end of the long side street. The station is straight ahead. The entrance to Tokyu Hands and Sunshine City is on the left.

Courtesy Tokyo Night Walker

If you turn left (south) at the previous photo you’ll come upon K-BOOKS book + game stores. Sunshine 60‘s main complex is down a few blocks on the left. If you head further down, across the street from Sunshine 60 on the corner, you’ll find a great cheap coin locker on the corner:

Courtesy Tokyo Night Walker

LINKS

http://www.city.toshima.lg.jp/340/shisetsu/koen/029.html

JR Ikebukuro Station

Seibu Ikebukuro Line

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_ikebukuro.html

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html

JR Sightseeing Map

Google Map

https://mapcarta.com/16069282

https://livejapan.com/en/in-tokyo/in-pref-tokyo/in-ikebukuro/article-a0000723/

https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/ikebukuro-station

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

JR Yamanote Line for Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Akihabara, Ueno & Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro | Tokyo Travel Guide

SEIBU Ikebukuro Station map

Ikebukuro Station | Tokyo Creative Travel

Essential Tokyo: Complete Ikebukuro Station

Ikebukuro Station: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Cracking This 3D Maze

Narita to Ikebukuro: Best Transport Options | Tokyo Cheapo

Coin Lockers @ Ikebukuro Station

Ikebukuro Station Area Guide: Top 15 Spots When You Escape the Station’s Maze! | LIVE JAPAN travel guide

Awesome Things to Do In Japan: Most Popular Spots in Ikebukuro! (January 2020 Ranking) | LIVE JAPAN travel guide

https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-city-guides/japan-stations/ikebukuro-station

Ikebukuro | A funky, high-energy northern Tokyo neighborhood built to entertain

Tokyo Travel: Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro Guide @ Best Japan

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3038.html

Shops / Services | Sunshine City

Sunshine 60 – Skyscraper Center

Sunshine 60: Tokyo’s Haunted Skyscraper

Book the rooftop of Sunshine 60

Coffee Valley Ikebukuro

Coffee Valley

COFFEE VALLEY @ [Good Coffee]

Esola Complex Ikebukuro

LUMINE Ikebukuro Food Court

Q plaza Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro Underground

Darcy’s Beer + Burger Ikebukuro

A Happy Pancake – Ikebukuro Edition

Rainbow Pancake

Japan’s Massive Depato Food Courts

Press Butter Sand

http://www.web-isp.co.jp.e.qf.hp.transer.com/

Ikebukuro West Gate Park (TV series) – Wikipedia

VIDS

This vid by View Japan gives a great lay of the land in Ikebukuro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKnX1HSvnwo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKnX1HSvnwo