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 8/11/2021

©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

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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:

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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.

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Inside the station.

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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.

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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

Goodies @ The Milky Way Café.

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

What’s New in Ikebukuro This Month: August 2021

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

https://nekobukuro.com/

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

Sugamo

Name: Sugamo

Kind: Town/City

Location: 35°44’31.93″ N 139°43’43.02″ E

Stations: Toei Sugamo Station, JR Sugamo Station Yamanote Line

Free Wifi: Yes

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? For a quick look, or on the way to Itabashi.

Updated 2/16/2021

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Sugamo is a small area in Tokyo north of Tokyo Dome City and south of Itabashi on Rt. 17 (Hakusan Dori). It’s not a large area but still worth a look. The main attraction is Rikugien Gardens 2 blocks to the east (discussed below).

Access

Unfortunately there is no Metro subway stop at Sugamo Station. You’ll have to either take the JR Yamanote Line or the Toei Mita Line. The closest main area to Sugamo is Ikebukuro to the west, or Tokyo Dome City (TDC) to the south, but on foot it’s a bit of a hike. On bicycle it’s a quick ride, and there are bike lanes part of the way, but you’ll need to make a short right-turn jog on Hakusan Dori (see below) on bike or you’ll get lost and end up on Old Hakusan Dori to the east which runs away from TDC. The other nearby area is Itabashi to the north several miles from Sugamo Station. Itabashi and Ikebukuro are only 2 miles apart and walkable. You can also get to both on the Yamanote Line or Saikyo Line. If you’re on bike, the entire length of Rt. 17 is cruisable in non-rush hours. See our post on bike cruising from Itabashi all the way through Sugamo to TDC. You can also get to/from Itabashi on the Mita Line at stop I17 – Shin-Itabashi. There is also a Nishi-sugamo Station (I16) further north nearer to Itabashi than to Sugamo. At Nishi-sugamo Station you can also catch the Toden Arakawa Line Tram – better known to locals as the Sakura Tram.

Area Layout

Central Sugamo facing northeast. The station + atré complex is the white square bldg. right of center. Rt. 17 or Hakusan Dori runs north-south. A Beck’s Coffee is the tiny black bldg. next to the small concrete park in the lower right. The main outdoor covered shopping area is just off 17 in the upper center left. Just north of that on the east side of the street is the APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae (Ekimae means “at the station”). Continuing to head north on 17 for a few miles leads to the small charming micro-town of Itabashi, which just renovated its train station in 2020. There are various other shops + food palaces around the station as shown above.

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JR Sugamo Station facing south towards TDC. APA Sugamo Ekimae is just behind the camera to the left.

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APA Sugamo Ekimae facing south. The station is just ahead 2 blocks.

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Facing south on Hakusan Dori just south of the station. TDC is straight ahead.

Features

Sugamo is not a huge area. But there’s still a fair amount to do. The atré complex over the station is worth a look, and Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street (discussed next) is a must-see. You can also stroll the outdoor shops along the streets on both sides for miles. Rikugien Gardens (discusssed below) a few miles to the east is a must-see. It’s one of the most well-known Japanese gardens in the world and in the spring + fall is spectacular. The town that Rikugien Gardens is in – Komagome – just to the northeast is also worth a quick look and isn’t too far.

Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street

Entrance to Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street which veers off to the left west of Hakusan Dori. The street is lined with charming shops, and if you follow it far enough north you’ll come to Itabashi. The entrance is just north of the APA Hotel on the left around 35°44’04.41″ N 139°44’12.70″ E.

Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street is a long narrow north-south street which parallels Hakusan Dori in Sugamo. The street is known as a hang-out spot for seniors, but it’s definitely worth a stop for everyone. The street has some very nice food shops with traditional Japanese foods of all kinds. If you keep going north until the end of Sugamo, you’ll come to the charming micro-town of Itabashi, which recently just built a brand new train station. Itabashi is just north of Ikebukuro and is a jumping off point for many other locations on the JR Saikyo Line such as Ikebukuro.

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Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street with its charming shops facing north. Well worth a stroll.

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Sugamo Jizo-Dori Shopping Street approaching Itabashi.

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Rikugien Gardens


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Approaching Rikugien Gardens, on the right. Just ahead is the small town of Komagome, just east of Sugamo.

If you head south on Hakusan Dori from the station for a few blocks, there’s a side street around 35°43’52.63″ N 139°44’29.39″ E heading east just after the MOS Burger on the left. At the end of this street about a mile down is world-famous Rikugien Gardens – one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in the country. It’s a must see. Admission is 300-400¥ or so, but it’s worth it for a couple bucks. While you’re there you can stop and check out the town – Komagome – which has its own JR station. It’s a small unremarkable town, but worth a quick walk. There’s also a very large ancient temple there with spectacular architecture. It also has its own APA HotelAPA Komagome. See our post on Komagome for more about the town. It’s worth a quick look.

Hotels

The obvious choice in the area, as we mentioned, is APA Sugamo Ekimae 2 blocks north of the station. Clean, upscale, and relatively cheap at $70-$80/night in off-season, it’s the best bet in Sugamo. There are others around in the area too. Check agoda.com for more choices.

North to Itabashi

Only about a mile north of Sugamo is the small charming town of Itabashi. Several rail lines including JR and the Toei Subway stop there. The JR station is on the Saikyo Line. It’s only about a mile walk north on Hakusan Dori and is worth it if you have extra time. See our full multipart post on Itabashi for more info.

Additional Photos

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The station at night facing north.

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Arriving at TDC on Hakusan Dori from the north.

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Hakusan Dori and the area around TDC actually have some nice bike lanes – if there are no delivery vehicles parked in them.

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Cruising south on Hakusan Dori facing southwest at sunset.

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Beck’s Coffee near the station. The Japanese word for coffee is coheé.

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The covered shopping street just north of the station facing north. APA Sugamo Ekimae is just ahead. You can also hang a right here to explore some of the backstreets where a good 200¥ coin-locker is located.

Courtesy @Mohejin_Japan

The covered shopping street on the west side of Hakusan Dori. Note the Toei Subway entrance on the left.

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This MOS Burger is just down Hakusan Dori on the east side. If you turn left just after this shop when heading south on Hakusan Dori, you’ll come to world-famous Rikugien Gardens on the right – and Komagome.

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The street to the east just south of the MOS Burger leads to Rikugien Gardens.

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A beautiful fall sunset in Sugamo facing west.

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The right split at Old Hakusan Dori heading south from Itabashi. Don’t miss this jump to the right side of the street or you’ll end up way off course and miss TDC.

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Waiting @ the MOS Burger on the way to Komagome. Turn left @ the next intersection for Rikugien Gardens.

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MOS Burger menu. You can actually eat fairly cheap in Japan – under 500¥ (around $5) for a good MOS Burger meal. The company prides itself on fresh ingredients. Our experiences at the chain are generally good.

They even have some fun desserts.

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There is also this small guitar school just north of the gardens.

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Heading north out of Sugamo on Hakusan Dori to Itabashi in late fall.

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The huge temple north of Komagome – eerily silent near midnight.

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The Sakura Tram near Itabashi.

LINKS

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

https://tokyo-tokyo.com/Sugamo.htm

Sugamo Station – GaijinPot Study

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nishi-sugamo_Station

Tokyo Dome City – Part 1: Itabashi->Tokyo Dome: on Bike

Sugamo | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

Tokyo Travel: Sugamo

Sugamo Area Guide | Tokyo Cheapo

Things to Do near Sugamo Station

APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae

Sugamo metro station – Metro Line Map

https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/teien/en/rikugien/access.html

Itabashi | The Official Tokyo Travel Guide, GO TOKYO

VIDS

This vid also shows the APA Hotel towards the end.

Yotsuya

Name: Yotsuya

Kind: Town/City

Location: 35°41’08.42″ N 139°43’46.32″ E

Stations: Metro Yotsuya Station, Yotsuya-sanchome Station, Marunouchi Line or Namboku Line

Free Wifi: Yes

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑

Worth it? For a quick look, or for Sophia University, or to Akasaka

Updated 2/13/2021

©2019-2021 tenmintokyo.com

Access

To get to Yotsuya take the Marunouchi Line to Yotsuya Station and exit. There’s an atré shopping complex over the station. The station is right at the area’s main intersection. You can also walk from either Shinjuku to the west or from Akasaka from the south. If you take the Marunouchi Line you can also exit Yotsuya-sanchome Station one station to the west between Yotsuya and Shinjuku.

Area Layout

The central intersection in Yotsuya is Rt. 405 (Sotobori Dori) and Rt. 20 (Shinjuku Dori). The station is just on the northeast corner. To the east down Rt. 20 is the main center area where Sophia Univerity is. If you take 20 farther east it will lead you directly into Hanzoman and the Imperial Palace. To the south at the 415-405 split is Akasaka Palace which gives free tours when available. If you take 405 further southeast from there, you will arrive in Akasaka/Nagatcho where the central gov’t is located. Akasaka is a lively area and well worth a look on its own. 405 south past the split into Akasaka is a long gradual slope which cruises past the New Otani Hotel to the east. This slope makes for an interesting bike ride. The hotel has a renowned garden and a sky restaurant on top. If you head west on 20 several miles, you will eventually come to the central area of Shinjuku, which is one of the busiest parts of Tokyo. The walk from Yotsuya to Shinjuku is around 2.5 miles.

There are plenty of restaurants + cafés in Yotsuya as well – most notably St. Marc’s Café on the southwest corner of the intersection.

The central intersection facing east on Rt. 20. Sophia University is straight ahead. Rt. 405 south to Akasaka is to the right.

Yotsuya layout. The central intersection is center left, with Akasaka Palace just below it. Akasaka itself is in the lower-right corner with Rt. 405 running east-west then heading north. The New Otani Hotel is on the right in the green area at the 405 bend. Out of frame to the right (east) is the Imperial Palace. At the very north end of Yotsuya is the Japan Ministry of Defense.

Rt. 405 seen facing north in Asakasa. Head left here for Yotsuya.

The 405 intersection in Akasaka facing west. Head west up this road for Yotsuya. Akasaka is to the left.

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Cruising up Rt. 405 on bike from Akasaka to Yotsuya at dusk. The New Otani Hotel is just out of frame to the right.

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Walking up Rt. 405 north from Akasaka to Yotsuya in fall 2019. Akasaka Palace is just up the street to the left.

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At Sophia University facing back west towards the main intersection. The station is just out of frame to the right.

After heading west on Rt. 20 for several miles, you’ll be in Yotsuya-Sanchome. Make this crossing and continue west (left) to get to Shinjuku. Directly behind the camera is a MOS Burger.

Shinmichi Dori Street

Just west of Yotsuya Station across the street is the entrance to a narrow side street called Shinmichi Dori Street. This street is lined with hundreds of small but upscale restaurants and noodle shops. Well worth a walk.

Akasaka Palace

Just 1/2 mile or so down Rt. 405 to the south is the Akasaka Palace – part of the imperial properties. When not in use, the gov’t normally provides free tours of the palace which is well worth a visit. To get there, just walk down Rt. 405 south on the right hand side of the street, then at the Rt. 415 split head right, then left at the next street for the entrance.

Co-working Spaces

There are plenty of co-working spaces to chose from in Yotsuya – the most notable being Moboff (yes, places have names like that in Japan). There is also offices.co in the Tokyu Yotsuya Building and a WeWork . Like Book•Off and other “Off” type places, in Japan the word “Off” is short for “Offload”. So Book•Off means “Offload your books” and Moboff means “Offload your mob” – or in this case, your workforce. No, just kidding – Moboff more likely is a contraction for “Mobile Office” (Japanese love contractions of words – it’s one of the ways they save typing + shorten information).

Conclusion

Well that’s it. While Yotsuya isn’t a large area with lots to do, it’s still interesting + is centrally located to enough stuff that is. You can visit it as a short side trip to Akasuka, or on your way east from Shinjuku. The walk around Sophia University campus is nice too. If you’re in the area, check it out.

LINKS

Yotsuya

Yotsuya-sanchome Station/M11

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

New Otani Hotel

Shinjuku City

http://www.yotsuya.moboff.jp/en/

https://offices.co/japan/tokyo/41452/

VIDS

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

Postal Museum Japan @ Tokyo Sky Tree

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Name: Postal Museum Japan

Kind: Museum

Location: Tokyo Sky Tree @ 35°42’36.40″ N 139°48’45.84″ E

Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida City, Tokyo 131-8634, Japan

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑☆

Worth it? Yes.

Last updated 6/27/2020

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Page takes a while to load due to photos.

Also see our full Tokyo Sky Tree Superguide + ONE @ Tokyo Hotel pages.

At Tokyo Sky Tree, there is an awesome Japanese postal museum – the Postal Museum Japan. Admission is about $6 and it’s well worth it.

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The museum is extremely well done + includes many artifacts going back as far as the late 1800’s. There are delivery vehicles, uniforms, advertisements, post boxes, and even the world’s only comprehensive collection of every stamp ever issued worldwide (the collection is so huge + valuable, you’re not allowed to photograph it).

To get there, take the Hanzomon Metro Subway line to Oshiagé/SKYTREE Station, go up through the TOKYO SKY TREE mezzanine station area, and then take the vast escalators up to the ground floor. Go to the 6th floor from the Tokyo Solomachi Bldg. entrance (there’s a side elevator in the lobby), take the elevator there, and then exit left to the Postal Museum. Tickets are at the front counter. There is also a huge Family Mart conbini (convenience store) on the lower escalator level.

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Hanzomon Line Map. Oshiagé/SKYTREE station is on the far right (east), Shibuya, the western terminus is on the far left (west). Notable stops include Kinshicho, Suitengumae, Otemachi, Omotosando, and the western terminus, Shibuya. Shibuya, Nagatcho, Otemachi stations are major interchange points for other lines (indicated by the colored circles above stations on the above map). At 5 of the stations you can change to the Ginza Line for Akihabara and Ginza stops.

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Head up out of the station to the TOKYO SKYTREE TOWN mezzanine, then hang a left here to get to the escalators up to the lobby. There are lots of stores and vending machines here. There is also a huge map. Note the color-coded Metro exit sign in yellow.

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The massive escalators from the station mezzanine area up to the Solamachi Bldg. lobby. A Family Mart conbini is straight ahead. Note there are also a few coin lockers on the right where you can stash your stuff while @ Sky Tree if they are not all in use.

As a footnote, at the Tokyo Solamachi Bldg. there’s more to do: 2 long food court hallways, a massive food/gift floor, an aquarium, an info desk, a rooftop terrace outside Sky Tree itself, coffee shops, and various other attractions – and tickets to the Sky Tree’s 2 spectacular observation decks (floors 350 + 450). Cost for the observation decks is around $34 per adult as of 2019. Be sure to check out the glass floor in the 1st observation deck – for a dizzying view of the ground 350 floors below:

Glass floor in 1st Tokyo Sky Tree observatory.

There’s a complete Tokyo Solamachi floor guide here.

You can also walk all the way around the Sky Tree/Solamachi complex on the sidewalks outside. On the north side of the complex is another subway line – the Tobu subway.

Within a block or two of Sky Tree are a Post Office, Life Supermarket, Mr. Donut, Sizzler restaurant, a MOS Burger, several conbini (convenience stores), and a great hotel called ONE @ Tokyo (about $100-$120/night). ONE @ Tokyo also has a limited small free bike parking rack for guests. Sky Tree also has one but it is very expensive – about $20/day – and it has a rolling shutter which closes @ midnight. There is also a small coin laundry on a side street near ONE @ Tokyo. ONE @ Tokyo also has a great rooftop patio and observation deck where you can get spectacular views of Sky Tree and the town of Oshiagé.

Also nearby on the Hanzomon Metro Subway Line is Sumiyoshi. The Hanzomon Line is interesting because it’s one of the most convenient lines in Tokyo – Oshiagé/SKYTREE is the eastern terminus of the line, but just a few minutes to the west and you’re at Tokyo Station which is a great area to explore + walk around in. The 2nd stop on the line from Sky Tree – Kinshicho – is also well worth a stop and look around. In fact you can walk from Sky Tree to Kinshicho to the south in about a 1/2 hour. Near Kinshicho is TOBU Hotel Levant – a Sky Tree Partner Hotel. There is all sorts of good shopping in Kinshicho – including 3 major depato (department stores) – OIOI (Marui), Termina, and PARCO/SEIYU. In the basement of OIOI there is an excellent Japan Meat stop with great midnight grocery sales, and there’s an inexpensive SEIYU in the basement of the PARCO, right next to the Metro exit. All of this is in Kinshicho about 1.5 miles to the south of Sky Tree. If you’re a meat-eater you can bring back a good haul from Japan Meat or SIEYU and cook it up in your hotel room. You can even find a whole tin of Danish butter cookies at midnight SEIYU sales for 100¥ (around $1). Well worth a few miles’ walk.

There is also a very nice First Cabin capsule-style hotel near Suitengumae Station on the Hanzomon Line (Z10) just two more stops to the west. The staff is more than friendly and speaks English – and the place is spotless. It’s tucked back off a side residential street in a quiet neighboorhood, just next to the Sumida River – but worth a stay if you don’t want to stay at a more expensive hotel near Sky Tree.

Just next to the Life Supermarket outside Sky Tree is also another hotel – The Richmond Hotel.

The Museum

Once in the Solamachi/Sky Tree lobby, take the elevators to the 6th floor. There you can buy tickets @ the museum’s front desk for $6.

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Inside the museum. The world’s largest collection of postage stamps is at the far end.

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Late 1800’s postal advertisements.

The museum has all kinds of historical artifacts worth checking out:

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Delivery scooter from the 1960’s.

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Delivery worker uniforms spanning close to 200 years.

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Mailbox from early 1900’s.

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Early postal lanterns.

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Early post box from late 1800’s.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your trip to the Postal Museum Japan and Sky Tree. Plan to spend around 2-3 days total in the area as there’s lots to do. The lines for the observatories are generally a mob scene – especially on weekends, so plan accordingly. Expect lots of screaming kids on weekends.

LINKS

Postal Museum Japan

Google Map

Tokyo Sky Tree Superguide

Floor Guide @ Tokyo Sky Tree

Shops

Hanzomon Metro Subway Line

Oshiagé/SKYTREE Station

Tokyo Skytree Station

Access by trains

ONE @ Tokyo Hotel

Inside A Japanese Post Office (With a few donuts)

Sky Tree Sightseeing App

Tobacco and Salt Museum

TOBU Hotel Levant

First Cabin Suitengumae

Richmond Hotel

MOS Burger Japan

AEON Supermarkets

Life Supermarket

Mr. Donut Near Sky Tree

VIDS

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