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 foreignSamurai, Jan Joosten, or simply Yayōsu for short, from the 17th century) . There are only 2 internal passages which connect the 2 sides the YaesuNorth 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The central Marunouchi (west) side of Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Station Hotelis 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.
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.
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.
Ginko trees in the fall to the west of Tokyo Station.
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.
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.
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 DAIMARUdepato (department store), but that is on the Yaesu (east) side so we’ll save that for Part 2.
The central shops area inside the station which includes dessert places such as TokyoMe+.
There are also endless large complexes on the streets around the station such as M Lounge just to the northeast.
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
Another view of the KITTE building from the north.
To the northwest side of the plaza there are several large multi-use/shopping centers. Very upscale.
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.
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.
The vastness around Marunouchi that is corporate Japan.
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.
While it’s currently closed because of lockdown, a new Nana’s Green Tea opened in Ueno in northeast Tokyo. It’s in the northwest side of the Marui (OIOI) bldg. near the Metro station around 35°42’35.99″ N 139°46’31.99″ E
Entrance to the Skyliner station in Ueno, across the street from the APA Hotel. Just above this entrance in the dark is the south entrance to Ueno Park.
The town is also famous for its huge Ueno Park and zoo, which has dozens of museums, and Shinobazu Pond – which features prominently in many works of ancient Japanese literature. There are nice gardens and a temple near the pond, and a walking path circling it.
The city area itself is rather small, but interesting and is a short 2 mile walk north of Akihabara just to the south. There are 2 major department store complexes to the southwest of the station – Matsuzakaya and PARCO. Just behind those and a little further to the south is JR Okachimachi Station. Between these two points there are all kinds of backstreets with endless shopping + restaurants.
Ueno has a bit of an older shitamachi (“old downtown”) feel to it, but is still well worth a look.
JR Ueno Station is one of the earliest JR stations built in Japan. It was built in 1883 and rebuilt in 1938 just after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1932. You can still see its early 1930’s architecture in the station’s exterior and in the steel beams inside in its roof. A few years earlier what is now Tokyo Station was built along with Shimbashi Station further to the south. Ueno Station is a major transit hub on the JR Yamanote Line – the main central line that rings Tokyo. On the JR Yamanote Line you can shoot south to Akihabara in 2 stops, Tokyo Station 2 stops south of that, and Ginza 2 stops south of that at Yurakucho Station.
Across from Ueno Station looking north. The APA Hotel is just behind the overpass on the left. The entrance to Ameyokocho is just past the overpass on the left on the sidewalk. The station is just to the right, out of frame.
Looking south from the south exit of Ueno Station. Ameyokocho is just off to the right out of view past the train tracks overhead.
Ueno Station is also a key interchange point for the Metro Ginza Line, which is one of the key subway lines in Tokyo. Although there is a Yurakucho Line which also stops at Yurakucho, most travellers to Ginza take the JR line or Ginza Line to Yurakucho station, which is just west of Ginza. There is also another JR Line called Ueno-Tokyo Line which heads south to Shinagawa and Yokohama. The Kehin-Tohoku Line will shoot you north to Itabashi and Ochai. Most of the other main JR lines also interchange at Ueno Station.
The Ginza Line is critical because it can shoot you to its eastern terminus, Asakusa, to the central gov’t at Akasaka-mitsuke, and all the way to the west side of the city at Shibuya, its western terminus.
Ueno Station is a little unusal in that it is a bit sprawling. The main central building is just to the east of the city center, but via a network of pedestrian walkways and overpasses, it has 5 main entrances, and several smaller street-level exits around the town’s main center.
Tokyo Drew covered the area in a video (see the bottom of this page), in which the walkways, and Ameyokocho are visible.
Apart from the original main building, there are also long ramps and walkways spreading out on 5 different sides like an octopus. There are also large banks of coin lockers throughout the station as well as a small shopping arcade called atré shown below:
There is also a brand new NewDays conbini (shown right here) built in 2019 just outside the main gate on the Grand Concourse.
If you’re in the mood for coffee or a snack, head down the stairs just out of frame to the right shown in the above photo and discover the Wired Café – one of the best hidden secrets in Ueno Station. See the 6th video below for a walkthrough.
Entrance to the atré shopping center inside the station.
JR Line connections @ Ueno Station
The large outdoor meeting area near the south-side entrance. The stairs down to the Metro Ginza Line are directly behind the camera.
Tourist info offices in the station
Travel Service Center close to the Central Ticket Gate on the main level (Grand Concourse), The JR East Information Center right next to it. You can also pick up a Japan Rail Pass you ordered previously here, Information Desk just inside Park Gate on the 3rd floor, and Gurunavi Tourist Information Office just inside the Asakusa Entrance on the 1st floor. Many of them have English-speaking staff.
There is also a lost and found on the 2nd floor inside the Higashi-UenoEntrance in a long hallway. It’s a little hard to find but is clearly marked.
There is also a currency exchange on the 2nd floor, but you might want to use an exchange office in Tokyo or Akihabara which will give you a much better rate. In general exchange offices inside transport areas are not as good a value as those in the city itself.
There is also a small Tokyo Metro subway station around 35°42’27.45″ N 139°46’12.15″ E called Yushima Station on the Chiyoda Line. It’s just west of the large PARCO department store (discussed below).
There are 2 main shopping areas inside then station: atré and Ecute. Ecute is near the Higashi-Ueno entrance. atré is near the main level. There are also a lot of good smaller restaurants on the outside of the Yamashita Entrance on the west side of the station. There are also some on the 2nd floor of the station. As shown above, there are also a variety of conbini scattered around the station with good quick conbini food in them. You can get a sandwhich and drink for a few dollars.
There are several paid lockers in the station. The largest is in a large room just inside the Asakusa Exit. These lockers also accept Suica and other electronic IC cards. But be aware that it has a large steel door and closes after the last train runs so if you miss the closing time, your belongings will be stuck in the station overnight. There are also more lockers scattered around the station. There are also banks of lockers inside Skyliner Station.
But a better locker deal are some of the hidden lockers around Ueno itself. There is a large bank of them in a covered arcade around Ameyokocho‘s backstreets. There is also a very nice bank of ¥200 coin lockers hidden away on a side street just south of Ueno Park. These are far cheaper options and are perfectly safe. Plus since they are outside you can access your belongings 24/7. See our article on Hidden Ueno Coin Locker Hacks. uenostation.com also has a good article on lockers in Ueno.
In 2019 the lower floor was renovated for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, so that floor is all brand new and easy to navigate:
Renovated lower floor of Ueno Station. Note the purple color-coded line on the wall on the left. These indicators in renovated stations lead to Metro subway lines, which have the same color. In this case (purple), the Hanzomon Line.
The station can be confusing at first because of its sprawl – and it is large enough that you could easily spend a whole day inside and around it exploring. The various exits allow you to get to different sides of the town quickly. The main part of the town is to the west, but there is another older area to the east as well.
The Panda entrance to the station has a huge vast open elevated walkway where people collect at night. The escaltor down to the Ginza Line subway is also here. You may have to walk a bit.
There is an excellent site with detailed maps + layouts of the station at uenostation.com
Note that the Skyliner Station mentioned above is not in the main station building – it’s across the street in a smaller underground station to the northwest just across from the pond. There is also a baggage service in the Skyliner Station.
There is also a private luggage storage service @ Studio Passella just to the south of Ueno Park on the west side of the street @ 35°42’38.26″ N 139°46’23.29″ E. Costs are $10/day per bag.
The town is laid out around the station, shown in the upper right center in this aerial view. To the southwest of the station is the main street with a Yodobashii Camera, the PARCO shopping complex and all kinds of shops and restaurants. At the start of this street from the station (to the west) is a small triangular concrete park. This is where the Skyliner Station is. Ueno Park is just to the north, shown on the center left (west) in this photo. Shinobazu Pond is to the south west, shown in the lower left corner of the photo.
The small concrete square at the south end of Ueno Park. Chuo-Dori is straight ahead – leading to Akihabara.
A Koban (police box), left, on the main street just south of the Skyliner station.
Back behind the pond is the University of Tokyo Medical Center. At the southeast corner of the station is a huge network of pedestrian walkways. If you head east from these down Rt. 463 (Asakusa Dori), you’ll eventually come to the Sumida River, and after crossing it, to Sky Tree. Ameyokocho is the area at the bottom right of the photo to the right of the tracks. It’s squeezed in behind Yodobashi Camera. Ueno Park is sort of up on a raised hill so one way or the other you’ll need to climb stairs to get to it from the south. The park is huge and you can easily spend one full day or two in it alone. Note the walkways around and through the pond. There are also small boats you can use to paddle out onto the lake.
Overhead of town layout – the station is center bottom, park is center right above it, Shinobazu Pond is at the top, Marui and Yodobashii Camera is to the left of the station. Further to the left, out of view is the large PARCO depato store complex. Ameyokocho is just above the tracks on the left behind the long grey bldg.
Ueno Park area with various museums and attractions.
Facing southwest – Ueno is to the left and Okachimachi Station is the long white area, center left. The Parco/Matsuzakaya complex is the tall bldg. center right.One more stop south (to the right) on the JR line is Akihabara Station, and beyond that, Tokyo.
Walkway system to the south of Ueno Station which is just to the left. Rt. 463 is off to the right.
To the south of the pond is an area known as Nakacho – you can enter it down a side street right across the street from the Yodobashii Annex building.Yodobashii Camera Annex is the small grey bldg. on the left, the large PARCO complex is the tall bldg. in the distance.Nakacho is a few blocks down on the right.To the immediate right (west) behind 1 side street is Shinobazu Pond.
Entrance to Nakacho.
The view from the small concrete park looking back towards the station. Yodobashi is the grey bldg. straight ahead. Skyliner station is just to the left out of view.
Looking back the other way from near the Yodobashi bldg. The small concrete park is on the left, and the Skyliner station is on the right. APA Hotel Ueno Ekimae is the tall black bldg. on the left.
Skyliner station at night.
Main street in Ueno. Yodobashii Camera Annex bldg. is the small grey building straight ahead. Ueno Station and Ueno Park/Shinobazu Pond are to the left.PARCO is to the right (see below).
Looking back towards Ameyokocho from east of the central area.3153 is on the right.
Attractions + Fun
Just across from the station to the west is a huge Marui (OIOI) dept. store, which also has a Metro entrance/exit in its basement along with shops + food. On the 2nd floor of Marui here is the great Leis’s Coffee + Hawaiian Pancake house. There are plenty of other shops around.
There is also a Seria dollar store (a must-see) and a Ueno Tourist Info store on the 2nd floor.
Marui dept. store across from Ueno Stationto the southeast.Note the overhead walkways.
Metro entrance on the corner of Marui dept. building.Just down this side street is a Nana’s Green Tea around 35°42’35.99″ N 139°46’31.99″ E.
North of this, just after the overhead tracks is the entrance to Ameyokocho, Ueno’s famous shopping district. Here you’ll find endless food vendors, clothing, luggage, shoes, – just about anything else you might want to buy. There are also game arcades, izakaya (bars), coffee shops, and a variety of other shops. You can stroll around here for hours and not see it all.
Just past the northeast entrance to Ameyokocho facing southeast. The street splits here. If you take the left path ahead you will come out at Okachimachi Station. Just to the left in this photo is the famous Daiwa shoe store.
A haunting image at the end of of Ameyokocho.
Ameyokocho in the gathering dark – facing southwest.
Ameyokocho entrance is to the right. Ueno Station is to the left. This is facing south.Tracks are overhead.Just ahead around the corner is a great hidden luggage shop with some good deals (see next photo).
Just around the corner from the Pronto, under the tracks, is a great luggage shop with some inexpensive bargains – shown across the street here with the red + white sign.It’s a little hidden shop so keep your eyes peeled for it.
Eatin’ on the backstreets…….there are endless food options in Ueno.
Be sure to check out the Chicken Man + Uncle Chicken outdoor dining shops on the backstreets.
Doutour Cofee Shop, right.
A large coffee shop right after the entrance to Ameyokocho.
You can wander Ueno’s back-alley shopping for hours.
There are endless adventures on the backstreets of Ueno.
There is even a famous Marion Crépes tucked away in the side streets.This chain was originally opened in 1976 in Harajuku on the west side of the city.
Taito game station.
If you exit Ueno Station at the west exit, and immediately turn north (right) up the sidewalk, you’ll come to Ueno 3153 – Ueno’s newest multi-use complex. There are lots of restaurants + shops here. On the roof there is also a sitting terrace with a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree, which happens to be just 5 miles to the east. You can also get direct access to Ueno Park from the sitting area. From the sitting area, head south down some steps and you are back at the Skyliner Station. We’ll talk more about Ueno Park below.
Head north from Ueno Station’s west exit to reach Ueno 3153 to the north. The Skyliner Station is just visible on the left across the street underneath the red crosswalk signal.
Ueno 3153 at night. The bottom floor to the left contains convenience stores and a few restaurants. The main entrance is to the right.Definitely worth a look.
Matsuzakaya, left, and PARCO, right are connected and are at the southwest end of the station. One of the best food/gift basements in Tokyo is in the basement of Matsuzakaya. There is also a really good Seiko watch store on the 7th floor, and restaurants on the top floor. PARCO has a movie theater. Just behind these buildings is Okachimachi Station and its famous Panda Square.
Matsuzakaya, PARCO, and Okachimachi Station are all right next to each other and southwest of the station. To get here exit the station and walk north, cross at the Ueno3153 building and walk west. Loop around south on the sidewalk heading south, then cross back east on the same street to the other side. About .5 miles down you’ll come to Matsuzakaya – hands down one of the best dept. stores in Tokyo. Its food/gift basement is superb. It has 7 floors of shops + restaurants on the top floor. This page has some shop details. Just to the east of these buildings is Okachimachi Station. This is a favorite hangout of young locals at night. You can reach it by heading east between the two buildings. The area around Okachimachi Station is Ueno’s jewelry district. This area and Ueno are really one and the same. From the station, to the north back towards Ueno are all kinds of backstreets filled with shops + restaurants. There is also a Ueno-Okachimachi Station on the Toei Subway line in the area. Well worth a look.
Slip between the PARCO and Matsuzakaya buildings to the east and you’ll find Okachimachi Station. The area is fantastically well-lit at night.Just to the left under the overhead walkways is the entrance to the Matsuzakaya food-gift basement – a must-see.There is also a Café Velocé just to the south of the PARCO bldg. on the same street.
If instead of turning left at the PARCO building to get to Okachimachi Station, you turn right across the street here and head west:
You will come to Ueno’s Don Quijote discount store. You can also turn back north from Don Quijote down side streets if you wish to get to Shinobazu Pond which we discuss below.
Also on this street is Yushima Station on the Chiyoda Metro Line, lots of restaurants, shops, and other hotels. There’s a giant multi-floor karaoke tower on this street.
Shinobazu Pond is just to the west of the Skyliner Station. As we mentioned, it’s an ancient pond featured in classical Japanese literature. There are even paintings from the 1600’s and 1700’s depicting it. In feudal times it was a northern sentry post used to protect the imperial palace.
Today it has a nice walk around it, small boats you can take out and paddle on the lake, and a shrine in the middle.
It’s well worth a stop. To get there from Ueno Station, head west, and slip down the small alley to the left of the 7-11 across the street from Yodobashii CameraAnnex. Or from Ueno Park head down the long staircase and across the street to the west.
Just before the pond is also the entrance to Ueno Zoo on the north.
As a footnote, if you travel west on Rt. 453/254 (Kasuga Dori) from 35°42’30.32″ N 139°46’11.94″ E, at the southeast corner of the Gardens, in under 1.5 mi, you will arrive at the Bunkyo City Hall 1 block north of the Tokyo Dome area, just south of Itabashii – an easy and quick way to get across town. Bunkyo City Hall also just happens to have one of the best free observatories in Japan. Well worth a trip. Tokyo Dome and Ueno are actually quite close to each other. That makes them both ideal to stay at and pop over to the other for maximum Tokyo enjoyment.
The massive stairs leading down from Ueno Park to Shinobazu Pond across the street to the east.The temple is the green-roofed bldg. right in the center.Entrance to Ueno Zoo is just to the right.
Shinobazu Pond in autumn.
Ueno Park + Ueno Zoo
Ueno Park is a massive free park just north of the Skyliner Station. You can enter from stairs to the south or west, or from the roof of Ueno 3153, or from the north. There are dozens of museums, temples, shrines, and other attractions in the park. Fall is the best time, but the park is popular in the summer due to nice weather – and is often a spot for summer concerts + festivals + hanami (cherry blossom viewing). This area is a must-see in Ueno. Plan to spend a few days to see everything as there is a lot to do here. In particular in the park is the Tokyo National Museum which has a spectacular collection of ancient samurai armor. Well worth a visit for its many artifacts and paintings.
“The UENO WELCOME PASSPORT is an All-in-One admission ticket that allows you to visit the following 10 exhibitions and galleries (one admission per place):Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, The National Muesum of Western Art, Ueno Zoo, Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Garden, Shitamachi Museum, ASAKURA Museum of Sculpture, Ueno Toshogu, as well as selected exhibitions at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and The Ueno Royal Museum”.
Ueno Park, in the fall.
If you cross from Ueno Station and head east instead of west, you’ll come to Rt. 463 (Asakusa Dori) just next to the Mitsui Garden Hotel. If you head east up this street you’ll find all kinds of shops, a large temple, and a huge kitchen-related area called Kappabashi Kitchen Town several miles down. If you go far enough, as we mentioned, you’ll come to Asakusa, and if you cross the Sumida River, eventually Sky Tree. There is also a Kinko’s + Family Mart on this corner if you need one. Be forewarned however, for some strange reason all Kinko’s in Japan require you to give them a photocopy of your passport – even if all you want to do is make copies. On Rt. 463 on the right a few blocks down, there is even a 150-year old Japanese stationary store.
There are also several free + paid bike lockers at the entrance to Rt. 463 on the east side as you approach from the station.
Rt. 463 heading east. You can see Sky Tree in the center in the distance.Sumida River is straight ahead before Sky Tree a few miles down.
Bike parking area just east of the south exit of Ueno Station.
On the left side of the street there is also a large 2-story Doutor Café which has good, inexpensive food.
Just to the south of that is a very weird area known as Kappabashi Kitchentown. This areas sells nearly all of the gear + equipment used in all the restaurants in Tokyo. It’s not a consumer outlet area – although there are some stores there for that – it’s an area with wholesale shops that sell to restaurants. Worth a stroll, but very strange.
Ueno Sakuragi Atari
To the northwest of the Ueno Station and the park, at 35°43’21.24″ N 139°46’16.07″ E, in a tiny one block area is Ueno Sakuragi Atari – a small block of traditional Japanese houses converted into crafts shops. Well worth a .5 mile hike north of the station. See GoTokyo’s Guide. Head north on Rt. 452 from the station for about 3 blocks. Of interesting note is Yanaka Cemetary Park just to the north. This is a vast cemetary. As a footnote, if you head west on Rt. 452 far enough, eventually you’ll come to Old Hakusan-Dori, which if you follow north, will take you to Itabashii and Akabane.
To the northwest of the cemetery is an older neighborhood which has been recently renovated and is now upscale + trendy – Yanesen – located at 35°43’39.92″ N 139°45’55.03″ E. This area is well worth a walk.
There are many good hotels in Ueno, but by far the best is APA Hotel Ueno Ekimae just behind the Skyliner Station. This side street also leads to Shinobazu Pond, and if you’re willing to climb a huge staircase, Ueno Park. APA is a massive hotel chain which has 100’s of hotels all over Japan – most of them good. APA Ueno is reasonable at around $75/night – borderline luxury. The best value in the town – not too expensive, not too downscale. You can’t come close to a hotel like this in the west at this price. We highly recommend it. In fact, there are 3 APA hotels in Ueno – one is just northeast of the station, and one just to the south closer to Okachimachi – APA Hotel Okachimachieki-Kita S. All are excellent.
APA Hotel across from Skyliner Station
Inside APA Hotel Ueno Ekimae – across from Skyliner Station
Literally a few steps south from APA Hotel Okachimachieki-Kita S is the Dormy Inn – also a very nice hotel that’s reasonable. Even better, on the same corner is a Sagawa Express transport company -which will ship your luggage to/from the airport to your hotel or any other destination in Tokyo. This makes both the APA Hotel Okachimachieki-Kita S and Dormy Inn Okachimachi very attractive. Both are just a few blocks south of Ueno’s OIOI department store which also has a Metro Subway station entrance in its basement. Both of these hotels make a great affordable choice with close access to downtown Ueno.
A few blocks to the east of the station is the great Hotel Emit Ueno – also very reasonable.
Tucked back on a side street at about 35°42’36.52″ N 139°46’41.54″ E 3 blocks southwest of the station is the very nice Nohga Hotel. This is a very nice clean upscale hotel that doesn’t disappoint. A little pricey at around $150-$200 a night, but well worth it if your budget allows. It has excellent clean rooms, a 1st floor lounge with refrigerators, and a huge outdoor patio and separate indoor reading room. Very nice.
There is also the Mitsui Garden Hotel mentioned above, just across from the station but it’s a little steep at around $135/night. However, it is very good. You can save some $ by staying in a more expensive hotel for a few nights, then jump to APA above, and finally to a hostel. That way you get some luxury without breaking the bank and save $ on the trip overall. Or you can just go for one mid-range hotel such as APA for the duration of your stay.
Another option just outside the east exit of the station is Hotel New Ueno. This small hotel is tucked down a side street but is extremely convenient.
For a slightly more traditional hotel experience, check out Ueno First City Hotel a few blocks south of the pond.
There is also simply Ueno Hotel – which has spectacular views of Sky Tree.
There are also a lot of hotels on the street that runs east to west on the south side of Shinobazu Pond. See our other article here.
One of the best-kept hostel secrets in Tokyo is And Hostel. There is one in Ueno, Sumida (a few miles to the east) – and one in Akihabara. All are excellent, low-priced at around $38-$45/night, and all of them offer large ground-floor lounges + a kitchen. Bathrooms are generally very clean as well. However, be aware the Ueno And Hostel, unlike the other two, don’t offer private capsules – they offer only an open dorm with bunkbeds, as well as private rooms, which are around $80/night – more expensive than other full-scale hotels in the area.
There are a variety of coin lockers in and around Ueno, some at the station, but better, cheaper, and usually empty ones scattered throughout the town. See our article on Ueno secret coin locker hacks. Coin lockers can come in handy when you need to move across town, want to drop your stuff when you go shopping or get on a train for a short trip, or even on the day before your international departure and you need to move multiple pieces of luggage which might be too much to carry in one trip.
Ueno to Akihabara – A short walk
If you head south on Ueno’s main street past the PARCO complex, and walk 2 miles or so, you’ll come right into Akihabara. The two towns are surprisingly close to each other and an easy walk. There’s a great bike shop along the way on the left side of the street:
If you walk from the east side of Ueno Station south on Showa Dori/Rt. 4 for about .5 miles and then turn east (left) you will find Book Road Winery (whose motto incidentally is “Wine for Happy”). It’s actually in Okachimachi at 35°42’18.23″ N 139°46’38.28″ E. It’s just 2 blocks off Rt. 4 to the east.
A few more photos around Ueno
Facing south. Caffe Velocé is on the left. If you walk far enough south here, you’ll arrive in Akihabara.
A giant Taito Game Station on the backstreets.
Just after the Ameyokocho entrance there’s a very large coffee shop on the left.
A HUB British Pub on the backstreets – foreigner friendly.
A side street on the west side of the main street just south of Ueno Park. Well worth a look. Lots of restaurants and shops down here.
Clockwise left to right: Street Metro station entrance, flower shop, in front of Yodobashii Camera, Coffee shop in Ameyokocho, temple in Ueno Park, side street vending machine, restaurant on Ameyokocho side street. Center: under the JR tracks @ Okachimachi Station.
South entrance to Ueno Park built in 1925. Today, the left side houses the entrance to Keisei Skyliner Station shown below. The small concrete park facing south is on top. Yodobashi Camera Ueno now lines the street on the left side.
There are a few good currency exchanges scattered around Ueno – you’ll have to canvas the backstreets around Ameyokocho to find them. There is one on the main street in Ameyokocho. There is also this one hidden in one of the covered side alleys around the area:
You will need to provide name, phone #, and passport to exchange money. These are usually a much better deal than the ones at the airport – so exchange a little bit of money at the airport, then hit one of these, or similar ones in Akihabara or Shibuya to exchange more.
Just south of the Yodobashi Bldg. on the east side of the street is this currency exchange place right on the sidewalk. Just head in under the red awning.
Well, that’s about it. Enjoy your trip to Ueno and don’t be afraid to venture beyond the tourist areas for unexpected discoveries.
Akihabara (or simply Akiba as it is known by locals), aside from being one of Tokyo’s biggest electronics areas, is also a great place to explore + walk around. There’s tons to do here.
The name Akihabara is derived from the Shinto god of fire Akiha, and bara is the Japanese word for field. So Akihabara litterally means “Fire god’s field”. It probably got this name because in the late 1800’s a huge fire burned nearly half the city to the ground – prompting the local gov’t to set aside a huge square field in the center for future fire evacuations.
Since we’ve lived there many times, and have deep knowledge of the area and its attractions, we’ve put togther this superguide to help you get around.
First, the layout + streets, then shopping, electronics, attractions, lodging.
On Sundays, noon – 4PM, the streets in Akihabara are closed to vehicles, making it a walker’s paradise.
How to Visit Akihabara
The best way is to get a cheap hostel/hotel in the area, stay a few days + walk around. It’s not a large town and is relatively compact so it is easy to cover in a few days. Hit the main streets + areas first, explore the staion, then explore some backstreets + side areas. You can also walk from Akihabara to Kanda, Nihonbashi, and Tokyo Station to the south in just a few miles.
As mentioned below it’s a fairy small town – you can easily walk the main station area in a day or two (see below).
How Expensive is Akihabara?
Akihabara is actally not that expensive. There are some very good hostels and hotels such as And Hostel and APA Hotel. Depending on the season, daily prices can range anywhere from $24 for hostels to $70-$80 for a hotel. There are many other similar hotels in the area ranging anywhere from $60-$160 per night. So you can visit Akihabara quite inexpensively.
As mentioned it’s actually part of Tokyo – it’s in the northeast corner of the central part of the city and is considered a main area. It’s just a few stops north of Tokyo Station.
How to Explore Akihabara
See our section below. Once at Akihabara station there are 4 main areas: the long street to the east which runs north to south, which is more reserved with traditional shops, the electronic town area on Chuo-Dori to the east which also runs north to south, the area to the south of the station which includes Akihabara Park and other small shops and restaurants, and the area north of the station which includes the Gundam Cafe, the UDXBldg. area, the Excelsior Cafe and Bic Camera bldg. The station is shaped like a “+” sign so there are 4 major corners or areas to explore. There is also Manseibashi Bridge and mAAch eCute mall inside to the south of the electronics area. There are also side streets with various small shops to the far east of the station. These areas are described in detail below.
JR Akihabara Station is fairly well laid out in the shape of a “+” sign. As far as Japanese train stations go, it’s easy to navigate. There are only 3 main exits: the Showa-Dori exit @ the east which drops you outside Yodobashii Camera on the east side, the Central Exit which drops you into a small square near the Gundam Cafe + office buildings such as UDX to the west side, and the Electric Town Exit which dumps you out into an alley to the southwest of the station filled with various electronics stores + restuarants. There is one more small exit in the Uniqlo building on the southeast corner of the station. The upscale Washington Hotel is just east of this exit across the street. Yodobashii Akiba is just a block north of this exit also. Note that the Electric Town exit is a bit misnamed – you might expect it would drop you near Yodobashii or Bic Camera, or onto Chuo Dori but it doesn’t – it drops you to the south of the station in a back alley. For Chuo Dori use the central exit, then head a block or two west.
When you exit the platform, you’ll come down the stairs on the right. Follow the yellow signs to any of the 3 major exits.
The Showa DoriExit to the east of the station. Go west (back) through this exit, and head right inside to get to the food shop passage which leads to the Central Exit near YodobashiiCamera.
Showa Dori facing south.
Head back throught the exit shown above, then veer right slightly to get to the food passage. There are also more restaurants in the atré complex on the way.Just to the left of this photo there is a small bank of 300¥ coin lockers, but they are almost always full.
The Yodobashii Camera Food Passage
Jammed in between the station and the main Yodobashii Camera building is a small corridor with a bunch of food shops. There are donut shops, a crepé shop, cafés + tons of other shops. At the other end is the northwest station exit courtyard and the main entrance to Yodobashii Camera.
West entrance to the food passage just outside Yodobashii Camera. 2nd shop from the right is Jack In The Donuts which makes awesome fresh donuts hourly. Shown just above on the far right is a great shop called Sweets Paradise which makes cakes that look like real sushi. Totally Drew reviews it in this vid:
Another view of Jack In The Donuts, right. There are other JITD’s scattered around Tokyo such as this one @ Aeon Mall Rycom.Currently the crepé shop is the next shop down on the right.
The main west entrance. The food court entrance is just on the right.
The main west entrance. The food court entrance is just down on the righthand corner.
Cow Cow Kitchen in the food passage between the Showa Dori and Central exits.
Akihabara Station. Up is north. The large building on the right with the green roof is Yodobashii Akiba. Just left of that is the Central Exit. At the lower left (southwest) corner of the station is the Electric Town exit. On the north side of that where the large ramp is is the UDX building and post office. Chuo Dori is on the left of the image. 2 stops north on the Yamanote Line is Ueno.
Central Exit.Facing south.atré department store complex is on the left.Excelsior Cafe is just to the right behind the stairs. If you turned right here you would see the Excelsior Cafe´on your left, and Bic Camera down the street on the right:
Chuo-Dori is straight ahead. The Post Office and UDX bldg. are on the right, out of frame. Yodobashi Akiba is one block behind the camera.
Facing north from the Central Exit.UDX buidling is on the left. Post office is on the left side of this building on the ground floor. There is also a small paid bicycle parking area to the right behind the stairs to the pedestrian overpass. Excelsior Cafe is just to the left side behind the bus. If you walk down through the street where the green overpass is on the right side, you’ll come out at Yodobashii Camera, and beyond that, Showa Dori to the east. If you turn left at the UDX building 1 block, you’ll find Bic Camera, and Chuo Dori where all the big stores are. Gundam Cafe and Square Enix Cafe are just to the right out of frame. The French Toast Factory is also here, near the Gundam Cafe. There is also a very good dental office in the UDX Bldg. called UDX Dental Clinic.
Another view of the UDX bldg. The Post Office and LIFORK shared working spot is on the left. Chiyoda bike parking is off to the right – and straight ahead.
Another view outside Yodobashii Camera. The UDX bldg. is 1 block to the west (left).
Inside the food hallway just to the east of the Yodobashi entrance. The world-famous Jack In The Donuts is to the right. Head straight ahead + right and you’ll be out in the main west central courtyard where the Yodobashi entrance is:
If you come out of the Electric Town exit to the south of the north exit, there’s a small hidden shopping center just to the left as you exit the station.
Bic Camera, just to the west of the UDX building shown above. Chuo Dori is just to the left (west) of this image. This photo was taken from the approximate vantage point of the Excelsior Cafe just outside the Central Exit. Note that in Japan in the fall + winter it gets dark early – this photo was taken around 2PM in the afternoon in Nov. If you are in Tokyo in the fall, be ready for limited sunlight until March.
The reverse angle – looking back towards Bic Camera – on the left – down the side street to the station from Chuo Dori.
Another view from the south corner facing north. Bic Camera is on the right.
Across from the main Softbank shop to the south is the new Sofmap Mac Collection.
Just to the right (east) of Bic Camera is the UDX bldg. shown here, and just south of that where this photo was taken, is the Excelsior Cafe which is quite large and nice with indoor + outdoor seating.Also on this side of the courtyard, just to the left (west) is the CaféMoco, and a secret bank of 200¥ coin lockers, which are almost never occupied. We’ll discuss both later below.
Around the station there are 2 main streets: Chuo Dori, which is the main electronics shopping street to the west of the station, and Showa-Dori immediately to the east of the station. Showa-Dori is a main traffic road which runs all the way to Ueno 2 miles to the north, and all the way to Tokyo Station several miles to the south. Both roads run north to south and parallel to each other. In fact, you can easily walk north to Ueno in a few minutes on Showa-Dori. Side streets running east-west connect the two north-south streets, so it’s easy to cut over to either quickly.
Showa Dori facing north.Note the Metro tracks overhead.
Showa Dori facing NE.
Chuo-Dori facing north from the south end. SofMap is the blue bldg. in the distance. Akihabara Station is to the right (east). If you turn 90 degrees to the left, you’ll see:
It’s fairly easy to navigate around the station by walking the East-West streets between Chuo Dori and Showa Dori. There is also a street-level passage between the Showa Dori JR exit and the Central JR exit through the station. This passage is lined with small food shops such as a Marion Crepes + Jack in the Donuts, among others. At the Central Exit side you have the entrance to Yodobashii Akiba electronics store. The entire area of interest around the station is only about 4-5 square blocks, although you can venture much further than that on foot, if you like.
At the south end of Chuo Dori, past the shopping area, and over a bridge across from the huge Big Apple pachinko parlor is the Old Manseibashi Station area and mAAch eCute shopping area, which we’ll talk about below.
There are 3 main lines in the station: the Yamanote Line, which rings central Tokyo, the Keihin-Tohoku Line which runs to the north out of Tokyo, and the Chuo-Sobu Line which runs east-west. For most stops on the east side of the city you’ll use the Yamanote line. Ueno is 2 stops to the north, Kanda, Nihonbashi, Tokyo Station, and Yurakucho Station (Ginza) a few stops to the south, in that order.
A note about station signage in Japan: “Exit” means a physical exit from a station, and “Gate” means a payment gate where you use a ticket or electronic IC card to exit the station. When you buy a paper ticket you pay in advance and use the ticket to exit the gate at the destination station. When you use an IC card, you swipe the card when you enter a station gate for departure, but the funds are actually deducted when you swipe it again at the destination station’s gate. All but the smallest Japan stations have more than one exit. Usually gates and exits are synonymous, but not always. Some stations can be confusing because to get to one line you have to pass entirely through another line’s area in the same station (such as at Tamieke-Sanno station). Some of the huge stations have miles of underground tunnels + dozens of exits to take you to different parts of the local area. Some stations (many in fact, in Tokyo) combine several different systems such as JR, Metro Subway, and Toei Subway lines. You’ll see the small box-shaped entrances to these on the streets in many places besides the main station entrances.
When you get off the train, immediately look for the large yellow panels on a wall or signs mentioned above which list what’s at each exit. Usually the exits are numbered. There will be additional smaller yellow signs throughout most stations pointing the direction to most exits, but still – it’s easy to get lost or turned around if you’re not al ready familiar with a given station.
Yamanote line (green), left, and Keihin-Tohoku line (blue), right. Entrance to the Chuo-Sobu line (yellow) is downstairs near the Electric Town Exit and has an escalator up to the platform.
Electric Town exit.
Heading east from Electric Town Exit.Showa Dori is straight ahead. There’s a NewDays conbini (convenience store) on the left, and the next shop up is a great Becker’s hamburger place combined with a Pronto Cafe.There is also a SofMap store just at the end of the street.If you turn north coming out of the Electric Town Exit instead of east as shown here, there is also a small Yamada Denki LABI which is great.
Aside from electronics, and anime, there are a lot of great hobby shops in the area. If you’re looking for models or trains, by far the 2 best shops in Akihabara are Yodobashii Camera and TamTam (35°42’11.08″ N 139°46’17.71″ E) at the north end of Chuo Dori. (As a footnote, the huge Don Quijote and SofMap are just 2 blocks south of TamTam on opposite sides of the street).
The model floor in Yodobashii is incredible. They have the largest selection of high-quality Tamiya models we’ve ever seen anywhere in Japan.
On the north end of Chuo Dori on the west side of the street, just north of the Don Quijote is the TamTam hobby shop. The 4th + 5th floors have all kinds of plastic models and trains, including a good selection of Tamiya models also. Suehirocho Station (G14) on the Metro is just across the street to the south.
TamTam on the right, entrance to Suehirocho Station on the left. Downtown Akiharbara is to the left. This is facing west.
Another view facing south taken from the TamTam corner – Suehirocho Station is on the right.
This video shows inside TamTam and the unbelievable selection of models:
Also check out the Surugaya Specialty Store which has some great model supplies. It’s around 35°41’54.15″ N 139°46’21.22″ E.
As a footnote, less than half a block south of TamTam there is a nice MOS Burger:
South is to the left. TamTam is the big green bldg. on the right.
Just to the south of Yodobashii is Akihabara Park. It’s a small concrete park with stores and shops on both sides. It also has free WiFi. There’s a really good Key’s Cafe here, and across the park from that is a great little surplus electornics store which has nice little USB battery banks for $10.
Heading north on Showa Dori. Akihabara Park is just to the left of the bldg. straight ahead.
Akihabara Park south of Yodobashii in autumn. Key’s Cafe is in the brown building on the right. There is also a small bike locker here.Just to the right out of frame is Showa Dori.
Another view of Akihabara Park – looking south from the station exit. Key’s Cafe is just to the left next to the bike locker. There is also a very high end telescope store in the same bldg. called Starbase Tokyo. Directly across the park on the right side is a small electronics store which sells very nice small 10000 mAh smartphone external batteries for $10 – and all sorts of charging cables cheap. Just to the northeast is the very nice Akihabara Dental Clinic.
Just to the east of the park, across Showa-Dori is a nice used computer store called Smilefactory. If you’re in the market for a used computer, it’s worth a stop.
Aside from the usual maid cafes, there are several intereting ones to visit. There’s Key’s Cafe mentioned above, a Café Veloce out on Showa Dori Avenue, which is sort of a throwback to the 1950’s, there’s Café Moco (shown below), which is smaller and privately owned + is just south of the Bic Camera mentioned above, there’s also SAO Cafe (link below), Gundam Café, Square Enix Café, and others. There is a Tully’s Coffee in the UDX bldg – and Tully’s usually has free WiFi and free power plugs if you need a charge. There’s also a great trainspotting porch behind Tully’s up a small staricase to the left:
There are also a few other cafés on the food floors at the top of Yodobashii Camera.
Café Moco is just to the west of the Excelsior Café. Just to the left (south) of this photo is a secret bank of coin lockers costing only 200¥-400¥. They are keyed, so you have to not lose the key, but are good and cheap nonetheless.
Another look back at the street with Café Moco – in the opposite direction.
Around 35°42’05.00″ N 139°46’13.96″ E is the excellent café EURO. A very nice, high quality café. Definitely check it out.
Bic Camera is straight ahead.
Gundam Café, just across from Café Moco. The now defunct AKB48 Café is the brick bldg. just to the right. Yodobashii Camera is behind the tracks overhead.JR Central Exit to Akihabara Station is to the right (south), out of frame.
Gundam Caféand Square Enix Café are right next to each other on the east side of the square by the Central JR Exit. There was anAKB48 Café here also, but it closed in Nov. 2019, just around the initial time of this writing. The Excelsior Cafémentioned above is quite good + has lots of seating. Excelsior, Café Moco, Gundam, and Square Enix are all within a block of each other in the same courtyard. The maid cafés tend to be more out on Chuo Dori, and side streets near the Electric Town Exit.
Velocé cafés tend to be very good, and have lots of cheap food + drinks such as 290¥ coffee (cohee in Japanese), and 350¥ hot dogs. Velocé is a chain all around Japan, and is similar to Dotour shops, except that Velocé cafes seem to have more smokers, on average, for some reason, if that bothers you. Maybe it’s the 1950’s vibe. There is a Doutour in the area, but it’s a little further south via Showa Dori in Kanda, the next station to the south. Both chains are great, but on average we like the Dotour shops just a little bit more.
SAO cafe is a bit on the expensive side with 600¥ shakes + 1000¥ sundaes. Good nonetheless. Square Enix Café has fantastic huge burgers in the 1000¥-1400¥ range which are worth it once in a while.
There are loads of cafés all over the area in fact, and we’ve just scratched the surface here.
Down one of the side alleys in Ameyokocho is a tiny little snack shop which has foreign snacks from all over the world. It is just a store front on one of the back streets:
There are many good currency exchange shops in Akiba. But the 2 best ones are on the east side of Showa Dori, just across from and south of the JR East Exit. If you come out of the east exit and cross at the light shown at the top of this article, you’ll see the Noodle Stand Kourakuen:
Or at night:
If you turn right at the Noodle Stand Korakuen, on your left you’ll see a small alley with an Urgent Care sign next to it (a green “+”). Just below that you’ll see a currency exchange:
This one is great. If you continue south on Showa Dori on the same side of the street, you’ll come across another one a few blocks down – it’s another little hole-in-the-wall shop, but is also very good. Both of these charge around 2%-4% as of this writing, depending on currency. Don’t exchange large amounts of currency at the airport – they charge outrageous fees.
Showa Dori, south of the 2nd currency exchange shop.
There is also another one on Chuo-Dori on the east side of the street near the south end.
Facing east on the east side of Showa-Dori. It turns out the huge elevated train track tressle dates all the way back to the early 1900’s and was one of the first major infrastructure built in Akihabara.
When Do Akihabara Stores Open and Close?
Store hours vary. Some large stores such as Yodobashi stay open very late, especially on weekends. Some close early on weekdays, and some open late on weekdays. Most store hours are from 8AM/10AM to 6PM/10PM. It’s rare for stores in Akihabara to stay open past midnight in most cases but some do. Many are open on Sunday – when the major streets are closed to motor vehicle traffic.
The biggest electronics parts store in the area is called Akihabara Radio Department Store. They have just about everything including raw network cable. There are other smaller electronics parts stores in the area – including the one mentioned above across from Key’s Coffee. It’s just across down the street on the left from the Electric Town exit.
Don Quijote (Donki as locals call it) is a famous discount electronics chain all over Japan. These stores have just about everything, including, usually, a cheap food floor. There are actually some good deals on food. You can get a 1 liter healthy vegetable drink consisting of 26 vegetables, or a 1 liter bottle of UCC black coffee for around 78¥. They also have cheap snacks in various forms. They also have good prepacked meals for under 500¥. You can take them home, microwave them, and chow down. The Akihabara Don Quijote is on Chuo Dori, right across from the big SofMap tower store. Their food selection seems to be a bit less than other stores such as the Ginza one or Ikebukuro one, but is good nonetheless. Don Quijotes are a bit of a crazy mashup of electronics and supermarkets. They have just about everything. The stores are usualy cramped, with tiny aisles + products strewn everywhere. Quite amusing. Still worth a look, though. They even have cheap luggage. Don Quijote Akihabara is at 35°42’02.69″ N 139°46’18.23″ E.
Don Quiojte on Chuo Dori.
Cheap snacks around 128¥ @ Don Quijote.
Don Quijote stores are crammed with merchandise.
Also note that right next to the SofMap across the street from Don Quijote is a huge Mister Donut (Misado to locals).
Hands down the cheapest and most healthy grocery store in the area is an Aeon supermarket 5 or 6 blocks north of the station on the east side of Showa Dori. It’s on a corner and is in a tan bldg. They have the above-mentioned vegetable drinks for under 100¥ and lots of fresh produce for salads. And a variety of other products, including liquor + beer. As you walk north on Showa Dori, you’ll discover all kinds of other shops such as clothes, bikes, furniture, household goods. The shops on this street are a little more upscale comapred to the rough-and-tumble shops in the central area. Also on this street is the YKK zipper company HQ – which is known the world over for high-quality zippers.
Aeon supermarket on Showa Dori in Akihabara. This is roughly facing northeast. About 6-7 blocks north of the station area on the east side. You cand get high quality produce, sandwiches, and liquor/beer here. For a quick cheap meal try the Kagome 26-vegetable 1 liter drink for 178¥. A whole meal for under $2. Can’t eat in Tokyo any cheaper than that.
Believe it or not, there are a few shops in Akiba where you can buy name-brand high-end racing road bikes for up to 50% off retail. There are some incredible deals here, such as this $600 Bianchi road bike:
Arcades + Video Games+ Super Potato
Akiba abounds with arcades, game shops, and retro reuse stores. Some of the retro game stores are tiny hole-in-the-wall stores or basement dungeons. Chief among the retro game stores is Super Potato – a famous 3-floor extravaganza of old arcade machines, old consoles for sale, and old game titles. It’s a bit hidden and hard to find, but close to Chuo Dori. It’s located at 35°41’57.79″ N 139°46’17.17″ E, 1 block southwest from the main Bic Camera building, west of the UDX building.
Super Potato is shown in the lower left corner. It’s on a side street. Chuo-Dori is the main street running north-south. Bic Camera is the red + white bldg. top center.The main SofMap (now called AKIBA BicMap) store is just north of the large black office bldg. shown in the upper left corner. The top of the photo is north.Just to the right of the Bic Camera bldg. is the UDX bldg. with a JP Post Office on the 1st floor. The station is out of frame in the lower right corner.
Facing south on Chuo-Dori. Turn right here, then left at the next street for Super Potato.Bic Camera and the station are just to the left.
Facing south.Super Potato is on the left.
There is no sign in English on Super Potato‘s entrance shown below:
Either go up the stairs at the end, or take the small elevator to floors 3-5:
Just down the street from that is another retro store which also has video games + models – Yellow Submarine:
Surugaya Specialty Stores
There are 2 stores in Akiba called Surugaya Specialty Stores – one is on Chuo Dori just across the street from the main SofMap store. The other is on a small side street just a few blocks to the northeast of Mainseibashi Bridge (see below). Both of these stores have a nice selection of used video games.
There’s a chain of used specialty stores around Japan called BOOK•OFF. They sell mostly used books, but some of them also sell used video games and other items. There are several in Akiba – the largest being on Chuo-Dori just to the north east of the JR train tracks overpass – around 35°41’57.04″ N 139°46’17.05″ E. There is another smaller one in the DANKE shopping center also just under the train tracks across from the Washington Hotel Akihabara around 35°41’51.90″ N 139°46’23.61″ E. You can pop in and rumage through their bins of old used video game carts and other items.
BOOK•OFF is in the DANKE shopping center hidden under the arch on the right. This is facing south. The Washington Hotel is to the left (east), the station and UNIQLO shopping complex are to the right (west).There is another larger BOOK•OFF a few blocks to the left (east) also.Most BOOK•OFFs have lots of bins of retro video game cartridges.
Same view from a bit further back. Washington Hotel is on the left.Red arrow indicates BOOK•OFF.Just to the right is a UNIQLO depato.
One of the best used retro game dungeons in Akiba is BEEP. It’s down a big flight of stairs on a backstreet around 35°42’06.81″ N 139°46’15.41″ E. In fact, it’s just a 1.5 blocks southwest from TamTam Hobby. Head south 1 block, make a right, then 1/2 a block more. You can also Google Earth the name to find it.
As is the case with many dungeon buildings in Japan, there are no railings on the way down to BEEP. Watch your step!
Another good one is HEY (Hirose Entertainment Yard). It’s just to the south of the main SofMap bldg. on the same side of the street. Just head south on Chuo-Dori a few blocks.
Akiba Kart is a go-cart racing service where you can rent to ride go-carts around Tokyo. Keep in mind though, there is considerable traffic in Tokyo and the experience can be a bit hair-raising for the uninitiated.
Akiba is a huge magnet for trading card collectors and there are lots of card stores in the area. Probably the biggest is Card World Akiba – it’s 1 block off Chuo Dori towards the south at the end of an alley shown here:
Akiba’s hidden gem is Mainseibashi Station – an abandoned train station turned mall. The station was built in 1912, was renovated in 1925, 1935, and 1946 – but was then abandoned when Tokyo Station was built to the south in 1914. It sat empty + unused for nearly 60 years – until 2006, when it was renovated + reopened as a shopping mall. Manseibashi was one of the first train stations built in Japan. The JR lines, however still run across the top of the station north to south. The east side features Manseibashi Bridge, and the picturesque Kanda River which runs parallel to the station. You can reach the station by walking south on Chuo Dori from the central area to Manseibashi Bridge.
Manseibashi Station, left, facing north. mAAch eCute is just to the left (see below).You can also get to Ochanomizu by walking down + turning left at the red bridge over the river in the distance.
Ueno (1910), Manseibashi (1912), and Tokyo Station (1914) were all built around the same time. When the station was renovated in 1935, Shimbashi Station south of Tokyo Station was also built, connecting the entire east side of the city. All but Manseibashi are still in use today for transit.
On the 2nd floor of the station, via a small elevator on the northwest side is a small museum with a diorama of the entire area as it looked in 1912. The larger original brick building (also shown on this site) which was to the west of the station, and had a remarkable resemblance to the Maruonuchi side of Tokyo station was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and was torn down. You can see what that part of the station looked like below. Definitely worth a look. Watch for the signs on the west outside wall of the station for the elevator, and both stairwells.
Station diorama in the museum on the 2nd floor. Today, the entrance to the mAAch eCute mall (see below)is in a new doorway on the right-hand corner of the flat brick building just to the left of the bridge and river.The entrance for the elevator to the museum is just up on the left (west) side of the same bldg.near the north end. There is also a row of stores on the outside up along the left side of the bldg. as well. The original brick station bldg. on the left was destroyed in the 1923 earthquake and was torn down. Today there’s an office bldg. there.
The entrance on the west side of the station to the elevator that leads to the 2nd floor + the small museum.
A large office bldg. (right) + sidewalk now occupies the space where the main part of the original station was. The main part of the station was destroyed in the 1932 earthquake and was demolished shortly thereafter. This photo is facing south.
The entrance to the 1935 stairwell.
Manseibashi Station, right center. The entrance to mAAch eCute (see below) is the concrete covered doorway on the right side of the station. This photo is facing north.Chuo-Dori is to the right.If you walk left (south) from here, you’ll come to Kanda Station, then Nihonbashi, then Tokyo Station. If you round the corner on the left of the station and head north, you’ll find a row of shops along the outside. There’s a great article about all the shops inside over at Where In Tokyo.
Overhead view facing north. Chuo-Dori runs north-south. Manseibashi Station is the flat bldg. on the left.
Original 1912 stairwell.Head up to the left for the restaurant.
At the south end of the station is mAAch eCute – a chain of stores. Actually the stores run throughout the station but the eCute entrance is at the south end. Enter from Manseibashi Bridge at the mAAch eCute sign, and walk in. The inside is a tunnel of stores with small concrete overhead arches on both sides. You can walk inside the entire length of the station and shop as you go.
Just to the south of the station, in a tiny alcove on the west side of the street are these vending machines, the center one of which is famous in Akiba because it vends hot sandwiches right out of the machine.
Just over the bridge on the right is the entrance to mAAch eCute.
The station is one of Akiba’s best-kept secrets and is well worth a stop to look around.
mAACH eCute Store Guide.The entrance is shown on the left.
There are some nice hotels and hostels in Akiba. The aforementioned Washington Hotel next to the Uniqlo near the station is very nice – although a bit expensive. As for hostels, there is a First CabinAkihabara and a And Hostel just a few blocks east from Akihabara Station’sShowa Dori Exit. The First Cabin Akihabara is just a few blocks north of the And Hostel, which is just a few blocks south.
There are 2 nice APA hotels in Akihabara, and one of them, APA Hotel Akihabara Ekimae, is literally 2 blocks right in front of the Showa-Dori Exit to the JR station. Their rates are reasonable, at around $70/night or less depending on the time of year. The other APA is APA Hotel Akihabara-Eki Denkigaiguchi, (literally “Electric Street Exit“) and is around the same price, although it’s a few blocks to the northwest of the station and is not quite as convenient as the one mentioned above. Note that APA Akihabara Ekimae, First Cabin Akihabara, and And Hostel (covered below) are all within a few blocks of each other. All are quite nice.
Also of note is the fact that about a mile or so even further to the northwest is anotherAPA – APA Ochanomizu Ekikita. In fact, if you head west from TamTamHobby, right near Suehirocho Station, it’s less than 2 blocks. This APA has several advantages: 1) It’s really close to Akihabara, 2) it’s less than .6 miles south of Ueno, and the Skyliner Station to Narita Airport, 3) it’s also really close to the WATERRAS area just south of Ochanomizu, and from there, south into Otemachi, and the main area around Tokyo Station, 4) it’s also just a mile or so east of the Tokyo Dome/Korakuen Station area. All of this means if you stay at the APA in Ochanomizu, you can jump off to Akihabara, Nihonbashi, Otemachi, Tokyo Station, Tokyo Dome, Ueno, or Okachimachi all in less than 1 hours’ walk. This makes it a cheap + ideal location to stay at in the east side of Tokyo. And of course, once you’re on the JR Yamanote line from Akihabara, or Suehirocho Metro Station, you can get just about anywhere you want in central Tokyo fast.
Okachimachi Station just to the north of Akihabara.
First Cabin usually tends to be more upscale, and in our experience is very good – you get a deluxe tube, with a sliding door, a nice bed, outlets, A/C control, and a TV in each tube. It’s very clean + upscale. They also have a lounge where you can relax, watch TV, read, work, or just hang out. Our only real complaint against First Cabin is that the cabin area lacks real ventilation and if the hostel is crowded, it can get quite stuffy at night. It needs a window to open, which it lacks. Most First Cabin buildings in Tokyo are small converted office buildings – so they usually have sealed office windows behind a black curtain which are not accessible. Other than this, First Cabin is usually a good deal. They are relatively inexpensive considering what you get for the money. The one in Akiba is just north east of the station, so it’s very convenient.
And Hostel is just a few blocks south of First Cabin, and also just a few blocks east of the station. Remember the side alley where the money exchange mentioned above was? If you go 1 block south of that on Showa-Dori + turn left, you’ll be on a small side street. Head east a few blocks on this street and keep a lookout to the right for And Hostel. It’s just a few blocks to the right. When you see it, hang a right and head over.
Keep a lookout to the right for the hostel down a side street.Shown here at the end.
Chilling inside the single tube room at And Hostel. And Hostel is usually fairly quiet due to all-wood construction which dampens sound, unlike 9 Hours capsule hotels which use plastic as the capsule material. While smaller than First Cabin capsules, And Hostel is nonetheless well worth it due to cost, ease of access, free WiFi, and quality bathroom facilities + lobby lounge – and open air windows. The only downside to And Hostel is luggage + clothes are usually strewn all over the hallway, but don’t let that stop you – it’s well worth it – and a very enjoyable experience.
And Hostel lobby as shown on the company’s website.
Just northwest of the And Hostel area is an APA hotel which has great rates and is well worth a stay. One of the cheapest ways to stay in Akiba without breaking the bank. Rates depend on the season. Off-season you may be able to get a room here as low as $52-65.
There are also quite a good number of great bars + restaurants in the area on the side streets.
If you’re tired and in need of a rest, go east from And Hostel until you hit a dead end, turn north (left) for 2 blocks, then left again, back towards the station and you’ll come upon Izumi Park. This is a popular park for families with kids, but there are several benches here as well and you can just sit and hang out for a while if you like.
Secret Cheap Coin Lockers
Just to the left (south) of MocoCafé mentioned above is a small bank of secret cheap coin lockers . These range from 200¥-400¥ for 12 hours and are quite good, although they are keyed + don’t yet support IC cards. There is another tiny inexpensive bank of lockers just inside the Showa Dori station exit, but there aren’t many there, and they are almost always full. These lockers are designed for you to drop your stuff while shopping to pick up when you leave, but we’ve actually used them to store luggage overnight when moving from one area of the city to another. Just be aware if you leave contents in them overnight, you’ll have to pay an additional fee (via coin) to get your belongings out. You can also use them to temporarily store luggage when leaving the country or going to an airport if you have lots of luggage and can’t carry it all – if you need to make more than one trip. Also see our page about Coin Locker Hacks just to the north in Ueno.
The secret cheap coin lockers next to MocoCafé There are various other smiliar locker banks on side streets all over Akihabara. Do some Googling around to find them. Google Earth also comes in handy.
Another view of the same coin lockers looking back north. Bic Camera is straight ahead. MocoCafé is just on the left where the bicycle is.
Looking back east from Chuo-Dori. The secret coin lockers are just down the street to the right. The Excelsior Café is just behind the big concrete pillar in the center, and YodobashiiAkiba is just visible on the left. The station is just around the corner from the café to the right. A Japan Post is out of view across the street to the left. Bic Camera is also out of view just to the left on the corner. If you head left down this street, beyound Yodobashii, onto Showa-Dori, then right 4 blocks down, then left again, you will come to both the APA Hotel, First Cabin, and And Hostel mentioned above. There are also two very good money exchange places on Showa-Dori to the south. This image is facing southeast.
There are a few nice affordable co-working spaces in Akiba too. Best among these is Lifork on the 4th floor of the UDX bldg. They have a variety of shared offices, and even retail. Some of the small 2-person offices are as low as $900 USD/mo, which is incredible – considering this is Tokyo – and the UDX bldg. is right across from the JR Akihabara Station, which makes it incredibly convenient. Near Suehirocho Station (above), is 1/3 Work Life, which is also good. They also offer business mailboxes. Rates are below $450 USD/mo. Another one in the area is Rampart. It’s right across the street from Shosen Book next to Showa Dori. They also have door’ed meeting rooms. Regus is another option, although quite a bit more expensive. BIZcomfort is another option in the area, although there is no staff at all here. All you get is a 24-hour keycard.
Just across from the Akiba UNI-QLO store, in the block west of the Washington Hotel is a visitor center + free Wi-Fi hotspot:
One potentially disturbing aspect of modern Akihabara to some is that the area is becoming less focused on electronics and more on anime. Akihabara was once known mostly for electronics. While Yodobashi/Bic/Sofmap are still around, they are facing growing competition from Amazon and other online retailers, which is cutting into business. There are still lots of electronic shops in the area, but the trend seems to be more towards anime today. Electronics shopping seems to have moved more to the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro areas on the west side of the city.
Anyway, that’s it. Have fun exploring + finding stuff in Akihabara. It’s a fairly small area – if you spend an entire day or two there, you can easily see it all.
Looking back across Chuo-Dori east toward Akihabara Station. Bic Camera is on the left.
Heading south on Showa-Dori from Ueno approaching Velocé Caffe. If you continue further south from here, you’ll enter Akiba, Kanda, Nohonbashi, and eventually Tokyo Station.
The bike locker is behind these stairs near the north exit, and behind the camera.
PABLO mini tart shop.
The entrance to Bic Camera.
The overpass right next to UDX bldg. The hidden bike parking is under the stairs.
café EURO – a must-see.
Endless sidewalk bins of used electronics.
The famous surprise vending machine on a corner.
Under the JR tracks.
Entrance to the Tsukuba Express.
The hidden bike parking lot just outside Yodobashi Akiba under the tracks.
On the backstreets east of the station. The elevated JR tracks are on the left.
The same tracks on the west side around 35°41’54.89″ N 139°46’13.81″ E.
Another view of the station – at dusk.
Another view facing north – at dusk.
One of the narrowest streets in Tokyo – this is an actual street, not an alley.