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.

Suitengumae Superguide

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Name: Suitengumae

Kind: Town

Location: 35°41’02.66″ N 139°47’04.25″ E

Station: Suitengumae, Metro Hanzomon Line

Worth it? For a quick look.

Updated 9/25/2020

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Suitengumae

Suitengumae (or simply “Suitengu“) is a small residential town just to the northeast of Tokyo Station. You can get here by taking the Metro Hanzomon subway line, or by walking or cycling. The walk is not far – about 2-ish miles. To walk or cycle from Tokyo Station, exit on the Yaesu (east) side of the station at the north exit, then head north until you hit Rt. 10 (Eitai Dori), then head east. About a mile down, you’ll come to the Minato Bridge which crosses the Nihonbashi River. The coordinates for this turn are roughly at 35°40’44.68″ N 139°46’59.90″ E. Turn left (north) and cross the bridge. Head north a few blocks and you’ll come to a massive 4-level freeway interchange above you. Turn left here. Keep this interchange in mind as it’s an important landmark for several reasons explained below. Also under this overpass is an entrance to the Metro subway Suitengumae Station which also houses the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) which is explained below.

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The huge freeway interchange north of Eitai Dori looking back west along Rt. 50. Suitengumae Station is behind the camera to the left.

Yaesu (east) exit with Tokyo Station on the right. This is facing south. Eitai Dori is to the left (east).

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Just outside the Yaesu (east) side of Tokyo Station. Head north here to reach Eitai Dori, then head east (right).

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West (Marunouchi) side of Tokyo Station at night. Just to the left out of frame is an entrance to the Hanzonmon Line underground. Suitengumae is to the east of Tokyo Station down Eitai Dori (Rt. 10). This photo is facing northeast.

If you turn right at this interchange you’ll come to the Sumida River a few blocks down. But instead turn left and a few blocks back east you’ll pass the Royal Park Hotel on your right, and come to another Suitengumae Station entrance on your left. You’re now in the heart of Suitengumae. In fact, there are several Suitengumae Station entrance/exits scattered all around the area. You’ll have to go inside the station to get familiar with all the exits and where they lead. The station itself is entirely underground and except for the large entrance where T-CAT is, the only evidence of the station you’ll see are the small stairwells on the sidewalks.

An alternate walking route would be to cut down side streets east of Tokyo Station, then re-emerge onto Rt. 10 a few miles down.

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Cutting east down side streets in Tokyo on the way to Suitengumae.

Trains

If you want to take a train to Suitengumae you’ll need to find the Hanzonmon Line on the Tokyo Metro. You can get it from Tokyo Station, or from Otemachi Station just to the north, but be warned that the tunnels + routes to Hanzomon Line are underground in Tokyo Station and are miles of labyrinths. You can easily get lost in them, and even if you don’t it takes forever to get to the actual Hanzomon Line platform under Tokyo Station. An easier way is to find a Hanzomon Line entrance on the surface streets north of Tokyo Station and head down. You still may have to walk a bit so be prepared. The entire experience is generally known around Tokyo to expats as Hanzomon Hell (see videos below). Sometimes you have to walk through entire shopping centers + up and down multiple flights of stairs to get to where you want to go. You can literally spend hours walking around in the system under Tokyo Station – so be prepared.

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Abandon all hope of your feet not hurting all ye who enter here. Once you descend into Hanzomon Hell in search of a subway entrance, it may be quite some time until you find what you are looking for. Be prepared to walk. It may take hours.

Another corridor in Hanzomon Hell. Be ready to walk (and walk, and walk, and walk).

You can also get on the Hanzomon Line at Otemachi Station (Z08) just to the north, or you can switch at Otemachi Station from the Tozai Line, Chiyoda Line, or Marunouchi Line. If you’re coming from Ginza just to the south, you can take the JR Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station from Yurakucho Station or the Yurakucho Line from Yurakucho Station. You can also change directly to the Hanzomon Line from Nagatacho Station on the Yurakucho Line. If you’re on the far west side of the city, you can get on the Tozai Line at Nakano Station, then change at Yurakucho Station. The Hanzomon Line stops at various other places all the way across the city, terminating at Shibuya.

Jump To Tokyo Sky Tree, Sumiyoshi, Kinshicho, and Shibuya

One other interesting footnote about the Hanzomon Line and Suitengumae is both make access to Tokyo Sky Tree easy. Oshiagé/SKYTREE is the western terminus of the Hanzomon Line. If you stay at lodgings near Suitengumae Station, it’s mere minutes to Sky Tree to the northeast. Suitengumae Station is roughly at the middle 1/3 of the Hanzomon Line (Otemachi) which makes it a good spot for access to both the east + west sides of Tokyo. It’s closer to Sky Tree than to Shibuya in the west, but both are still easily accessible. We’ll discuss lodgings a bit more below.

2 stations to the west is Sumiyoshi, then Kinshicho, and then Oshiagé/SKYTREE.

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Station maps of Marunouchi, Chiyoda, and Tozai lines. Colored circles next to each station indicate line interchange stations. The station highlighted in red is the current station.

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One of many surface street entrances to the Hanzomon Line in Otemachi.

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Approaching the Ootemori level of Hanzomon Hell under Tokyo Station – only one of many levels you will have to pass through to find the subway platform you want. The station levels themselves are quite nice – it’s the miles of walking that makes it hell.

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Ootemori

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Deep inside Hanzomon Hell under Tokyo Station. As you come upon a Metro line sign in Hanzomon Hell, you may think your walk is over, but you’re not even close. You’ll often see signs like these color-coded with the line symbol and color, and a message of how much further (such as “Hanzomon Line 500m”) with an arrow. You get duped into thinking it’s just ahead but in reality you’ll have to pass through many such signs to reach the desired platform. What these signs really mean is “X number of meters until the next corridor junction or stairwell or escalator. So it really ends up being many such paths of 500m + 700m + 300M + 200M…. Before you know it, you’ve been walking for 2 hours and have walked over 5 miles!

Suitengumae Station + Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT)

One of the best-kept secrets in Tokyo is the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT). It’s inside Suitengumae Station and it has buses that depart to both Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport. The buses are very cheap at around $9 per one-way ride. That’s about 1/2 the cost of taking the NE’X or Keisei Skyliner from say, Ueno. It’s a good idea to go a few days before your departure date and buy a ticket in advance.

Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) just under the freeway overpass interchange. Suitengumae Station is also inside. There’s also a small shopping mall. The pink bldg. visible ahead on the left side of the photo is the Royal Park Hotel. Just to the right behind the station next to the hotel is a huge paid bike parking lot. There is also a station entrance leading underground inside the hotel.

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Inside Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT).

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Station map inside Suitengumae Station.

Bike Parking + Royal Park Hotel

Just west of the station is the very luxurious Royal Park Hotel. It’s very nice but a bit expensive. Expect to pay $200 or more per night. On the northeast corner of the hotel is a huge outdoor paid bike parking lot where you can lock your bike for the day if you need to. Cost is around 400¥ ($4) for 8 hours.

AEON Supermarket + Doutour

There’s not a lot in the way of food around Sutengumae Station. There’s a Family Mart conbini (convenience store) just across the street as well as a 7-11. Just to the east across the street is a Doutour café which is quite good. A few blocks to the east on the same side as the station is a nice AEON supermarket which has good organic vegetables very cheap. They also sell KAGOME bottled vegetable drinks + bottled coffee. Most of the real food in Suitengumae is back towards the west along Rt. 50 where Suitengu shrine is (see below). There is also a post office along this route.

Looking back east along Rt. 50 towards the expressway interchange. The Royal Park Hotel is on the left.

The AEON Supermarket a few blocks east of the station.

Doutour café also a few blocks east of the station, facing south.

Eitai Bridge + Ookawabata River City

If you walk back to where the IBM HQ bldg. is, you’ll find a small bridge named Toyomi Bridge. You can cross back onto Eitai Dori by crossing this bridge. Once you’re back on Eitai Dori, if you head further east you’ll come to the world-famous Eitai Bridge with its iconic view of Ookawabata River City. You can walk or ride a bike across this bridge and stop mid-way to take photos. If you cross the bridge to the east and keep going, then turn south along Kiyosumi Dori, you’ll find the Tokyo University Centennial Museum of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT), which also has a large wooden sailing ship, the Seimyo-maru outside to check out.

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Ookawabata River City as seen from Eitai Bridge.

View of Ookawabata River City + Eitai Bridge from futher up the Sumida River.

Kiyosumi Park + Kiyosumi Teien Japanese Garden

A bit to the northeast of Suitengumae across the Sumida River is Kiyosumi Park and Kiyosumi Teien Japanese Garden/Ryōtei Tea House. The garden is spectacular, especially in the fall and is well worth a stop. You’ll need to cross the river and then head north on side streets for a few blocks, but it’s not too far and is well worth the trip.

Suiten-gū (水天宮) Shrine

Perhaps the biggest historical attraction in the area is Suitengu Shrine, established in 1881. It’s just up Eitai Dori on the north side of the street to the west of Suitengumae Station. The shrine’s wooden architecture is amazing. Worth a look.

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Suitengu Shrine, facing north. Suitengumae Station is to the right, out of frame.

Lodging

Aside from the Royal Park Hotel, there are a lot of guest houses and AirBnBs in the area, but the hidden gem to stay at is First Cabin Suitengumae. First Cabin provides luxury capsule lodgings for a reasonable price. Expect to pay $42/night or so. Hidden down a little side street just to the east of the interchange overpass, First Cabin Suitenguemae is worth a stay. The building has been fully remodeled and the facilities are spotless. There’s also a small Lawson conbini a few blocks to the north. The staff is very helpful and there’s a large lobby with tables + chairs to sit at where you can eat your brought-in food. The hotel also sells small breakfasts in the form of croissants, bagels, and pastries. There’s also a coffee machine. Overall, very nice. To get to FCS, head back east on Rt. 50 through the overpass, past a small Koban (police box), past the AEON supermarket, then make the next left (north) down the next side street. Continue north past the bagel shop, then a few blocks up turn right. The building is a tall narrow white/gray bldg. with a First Cabin sign on the front.

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Head left (north) past Ozo Bagel.

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Look for First Cabin down a side street to the right.

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Looking south from the entrance to First Cabin. The overpass is straight ahead over Rt. 50. Turning right onto Rt. 50 here will lead you to Suitengumae Station a few blocks up.

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Inside First Cabin standard room. There is also a small lock box on the left for your belongings.

Lobby lounge inside First Cabin Suitengumae.

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Restroom inside First Cabin Suitengumae.

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Another First Cabin – this one over in Toranomon.

https://first-cabin.jp/en/hotels/32

Additional Notes

From Asakusa you can take a world-famous boat cruise up the Sumida River past Suitengumae.

Just to the south of Suitenguemae on the banks of the Sumida River is the Japanese HQ for IBM Corporation. There’s a walkway all along the Sumida River which runs for miles.

Additional Photos

Suitengumae is just to the right of the bldg. in the center with the square hole in it. The river shown is the Sumida River. This is facing southwest.

The massive 4-level Metropolitain Expressway interchange north of Eitai Dori. The T-CAT/Suitengumae Station are underneath this overpass on the north side. If you head far enough east on this road and turn left (north) you can hike to Sky Tree in about 9 miles.

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Hanzomon Line entrance in Tokyo Station. The line map is overhead with each station. Red indicates the current station.

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Line entrances @ Otemachi Station. Each line has a colored circle, and a letter. The current station number for this station on each line is inside each circle at the bottom. Some, but not all stations are interchanges for other lines.

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Another street entrance @ Otemachi Station. There’s also an area map. The green symbol to the right is the Toei subway system symbol – an alternate system from the Metro but which uses many of the same stations.

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Inside the lower level of Suitengumae Station. Note the bank of coin lockers on the right.

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Street entrance to Suitengumae Station on Eitai Dori. Just to the right in the upper corner is the Royal Park Hotel. Just down the side street to the right is an outdoor paid bike locker. This is facing west towards Tokyo Station.

Hanzomon Line platform.

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Hanzomon Line platform. The yellow rubber tracks are for sign-impaired people. The rubber tracks allow them to use their canes to find their way. Sort of like braille for walking.

The Marunouchi Line whizzes by under Tokyo Station. “Marunouchi” literally means “Home Circle” in Japanese ( “Maru” (circle) “no” (of) “uchi” (home) ).

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Entrance to Hanzomon and Chiyoda Lines in Tokyo Station. The numbers indicate which platform side, the colors indicate which line. Some recent renovations in some stations in Tokyo also include lighted color stripes on the walls to indicate which path to take.

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More levels inside Hanzomon Hell.

LINKS

Metro Suitengumae Station

https://www.tokyometro.jp/lang_en/station/otemachi/index.html

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

https://tokyocheapo.com/locations/central-tokyo/suitengumae/

http://www.suitengu.or.jp/

https://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/

http://www.ootemori.jp/index.php

https://www.pokemoncenter-online.com/cafe/

https://first-cabin.jp/en/hotels/32

VIDS