Shimbashi is a major Tokyo area just south of Ginza/Yurakucho in eastern Tokyo. It lies directly west of the world-famous Hamarikyu Gardens, a stone’s throw from Toranomon to the west, and southeast of the Imperial Palace. Just to the east of Shimbashi Station is the eastern termius for the new fully-automated Yurikamome Line which runs in a loop out to Odaiba and many of the other artificial islands in Tokyo Bay.
Former Shimbashi Station. The Panasonic Building is on the right. If you happen to be in the Panasonic Bldg. also check out the very nice museum inside.The station’s original tracks have been long removed, but the frame for the railway’s overhead outdoor roof is still intact today – along with some of the original buildings, which are now over a century old.
Yurikamome02 – Shiodome Station. Note the traditional-style pillars on the right.
Shiodomé area. Shimbashi is just to the northwest (left) behind the green Panasonic building in the distance.This photo is facing north. If you head left where the cement truck is, you’ll eventually come to Toranomon. Heading right leads to the waterfront and Hinodé(which is interesting in its own right).
You’ll find all kinds of cool restaurants such as this one under the station.
Any of the lines mentioned above will bring you to Shimbashi. But your best bet is probably the Metro Ginza Line. Also note the Ginza Line has a direct Ginza stop also. The Ginza Line is useful because both termini on either end are easily accessible to 2 other major areas of Tokyo – Shibuya to the west and Asakusa to the northeast.
Shimbashi Station is a large brick above-ground station with an east and west side. The east side is rather small but features some old locomotive parts + plaques. There’s not much to do on the east side as it’s just a block from Shiodomé. The interesting side is the west side which is adjacent to the main area. There’s also an old historical steam locomotive in the square on the west side. You can also walk from any of the areas mentioned fairly quickly.
At first the backstreets can be confusing, but you’ll soon get used to them.
New JR station renovations are being completed as of 2021.
The Sugi Drug Exit
Aside from the main station exits, there are several other street-level exits around the area. One of the major ones is the sidewalk exit right next to a corner drug store called Sugi Drug across the street from the northeast corner of the station around 35°40’03.52″ N 139°45’31.25″ E. This exit is handy because it’s on Rt. 405 which runs east-west into Toranomon to the west. If you head just up the street north of this corner you’ll also find one of the best Korean restaurants in Tokyo on the left.
The Metro street exit right next to Sugi Drug.
Hidden Bike Park
Just across the street from Sugi Drug to the southwest around 35°40’02.94″ N 139°45’30.31″ E is a hidden bicycle locker under the train tracks. You can park your bike here for 24 hours for around 400¥ ($4) which is a great deal. When you’re ready to retrieve your bike, use the automated pay machine at the west end of the lot:
As a footnote, if you head 1 block north of Sugi Drug (shown on the right here), you’ll be heading into Ginza if you keep going straight. If you take the crosswalk shown here, just on your left one block up is one of the best Korean restaurants in all of Tokyo: Bokuden around 35°40’06.74″ N 139°45’31.42″ E.The hidden bike park is just to the left, out of frame.
There are several cheap coin lockers around + in the station – one bank is just inside the west exit, one is deeper underground in the station near the Metro platforms, and one is outside on the southeast side under a covered walkway. All are fairly cheap + easy to use.
A bank of lockers inside on the way to the JR and Metro platforms.
The southwest side outdoor lockers.There is also an automated currency exchange machine straight ahead.You can pay for a locker using your Suica or other IC card at the black terminal shown on the right.
The main area just outside the west exit. The retro bldg. on the left was built in the 1970’s.
Just across from the old locomotive outside the west exit of the station is a large Yamada Denki(Electronics) LABi. If you’re looking for a big electronics store in Shimbashi, this is it. It’s across the street from the station around 35°40’02.10″ N 139°45’26.04″ E.
LABi Shimbashi, right. The station is just to the left out of view.
Shimbashi has some of the coolest backstreets in Tokyo. After dark there are endless things to do. Restaurant options are nearly unlimited. You can spend hours wandering around and not see it all. Plan on spending several hours exploring. Shimbashi isn’t a very large area of Tokyo but there is lots to do nonetheless.
A very popular high-end shop just under the Shimbashi train tracks.
Man In The Moon Pub
Possibly the most popular bar in all of Shimbashi is the foreigner-friendly Man In The Moon pub located just northwest of the station around 35°39’55.25″ N 139°45’22.40″ E. Be sure to check it out.
If you head 2 blocks south from the station, then hang a right west, you’ll come to the very cool area called Toranomon – home to the upscale Toranomon Hills complex. Check out our 2-part series on Toranomon. If you’re looking for a good reasonable capsule hotel, check out First Cabin Atagoyama on the way, around 35°39’51.57″ N 139°45’07.50″ E. It’s tucked down a quiet little side street.
If you’re willing to walk a mile south to Tokyo’s World Trade Center, you can enjoy spectacular views of Tokyo from the top floor at the Seaside Top Observatory. The WTC is located around 35°39’22.82″ N 139°45’23.91″ E and is easy to get to. If you’re willing to change trains once, you can also get right to its front door at an Onarimon Station exit.
One of the most famous views of Tokyo is this view from the Seaside Top Observatory. Toranomon is just to the right out of frame. The tall bldg. in the distance is the HQ of the Mori Construction Company.
Well that’s it for now. Spend some time getting around Shimbashi and you won’t be disappointed.
Facing the station from the northeast around 3:30 PM – an early sunset in fall.
Ikebukuro is a hip quirky hang out spot in central western Tokyo. Smaller than Shibuya or Shinjuku, it’s often overlooked by tourists. Ikebukuro has a small-town fun vibe, yet still feels cosmopolitain enough to be exciting. There is more than plenty to do. In fact, you could spend a few days in Ikebukuro and barely scratch the surface. Around every corner and down every side street is something surprising and interesting. The fact that it’s not overcrowded the way other major areas of Tokyo are only adds to it charm.
The main station is located in the 1st floor + basement of the PARCO depato (department store) in the main station. The Metro lines also exit this station. Just to the south in the SEIBU depato is the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Station. All of them are centrally located in Ikebukuro and are very convenient. There are also several street-level station portals on sidewalks all over the town as shown here:
One of many street-level station entrances.
On the JR Ikebukuro platform, you can purchase a Suica IC card for fares from these machines.
Ikebukuro is centrally laid out with an east, west, north, and south side. The stations are on the main thoroughfare running north-south through the town. The station in the photo above is in the center, the main street is just to the right running north-south, West Gate Park is to the left, center. At the very top center is a huge waste recycling plant with its telltale tall cracking tower.To the east are a dizzying array of side streets with endless shops + restaurants. Just to the east of that out of frame is the Sunshine City complex and 2 Ikebukuro parks (Minami-Ikebukuro Park).
View from the WTC building in west Tokyo facing west: Ikebukuro is the small city in the distance on the right, Shinjuku several miles to the south is on the left in the distance.Just behind Shinjuku, barely visible is Mt. Fuji.
The town is roughly divided into east, west, and north ends. The south end holds a few interesting spots, but as soon as you leave the main area east of the station, it’s mostly residential. You can get from the east side to the west and vice versa by passing directly through the center of JR Ikebukuro Station.
West Gate Park
At the West Gate Exit is a popular meeting spot called West Gate Park. The area was also the title of a popular dorama (drama) TV series in Japan. Also in West Gate Park just to the north of the west gate is a JR Tourist Information Office – which has English-speaking staff. You can also reserve bus tours in the office.
West Gate Park is a large area to the west of the station. There are all sorts of restaurants, cafés, shops, and other attractions. About a block further east are a Bic Camera annex and a block beyond that a OIOI (pronounced Marui) depato. In the OIOI is a very nice Seria 100¥ shop.
Just to the south of West Gate Park is a new outdoor performing art center called Global Ring. It was finished in 2020. There is also a café here. Further south is the Metropolitain Theater. 1 block south of that is a very nice MOS Burger.
Also in West Gate Park is a street entrance to the oddly named underground shopping mall Hope Center.
To the north of West Gate Park are endless backstreets. If you head northeast in this direction, you come to a small tunnel north of the station which heads to the east side of the town.
Also on the west side, a few blocks north of the OIOI is the world-famous Sakura Hostel – which although spartan is known for its dirt cheap prices, and fairly clean atmosphere. If you want to stay cheap in Ikebukuro, this is your spot. Sakura Hostel is also known for its huge outdoor seating area for guests. You don’t get much in the way of ammenities – most beds are mere bunks in shared rooms, but for the incredibly cheap price, it’s worth it.
Ikebukuro is also home to some of the largest electronics shops in Tokyo – including Bic Camera, Yamada Denki, and Sofmap.
Just south of West Gate Park is a shopping area called Esola. Check out the Coffee RoastersLaboratory on the ground floor. There’s also another Metro entrance here. Just beyond Esola is the LUMINE complex and MOS Burger.
Here are a few photos from the west side:
Ikebukuro West Gate Park. The JR East Travel Service Center is straight ahead.
JR East Travel Service Center
Just south of West Gate Park facing north. Turn left at the next street for OIOI City and the Sakura Hostel.Flip 45 degrees left from this image and you will see Global Ring on your left:
Facing west, the Metropolitan Theater is the bldg. with the sloped roof straight ahead.The 2nd Bic Camera Annex is the bldg. on the far right.Global Ring is on the far left.Global Ring was built on the real former Ikebukuro West Gate Park – an area which previously had a large fountain. Now the entire area has been replaced by Global Ring.
Facing southeast from the Global Ring area. The Esola complex is straight ahead.The MOS Burger is 2 blocks to the right.
Just beyond Global Ring is the Esola complex (left) and LUMINE (right). LUMINE + TOBU complexes have excellent food courts on their top floors. Don’t miss ’em.LUMINE was formerly called Metropolitain Plaza.
Inside the station.
On the JR Saikyo Line platform behind the PARCO depato.
OIOI City west of the station facing west. Turn right here for the Sakua Hostel.
The west Bic Camera Annex a block east of OIOI City.
East Side – Endless Shopping + Restaurants + Sunshine City
The east side of the station is considerably more interesting. Not only is there a main street which runs north to south which has a myriad of shops, cafés, and resturants on it, but there’s an entire area east of that that is really interesting.
There’s PARCO + SEIBU depatos, and Bic Camera and other denki (electronics) shops on the north end of the street, but the south end of the street also has lots of coffee shops + restaurants.
To the far east of the side streets is a huge skyscraper and complex called Sunshine City. The area’s big attraction is Sunshine 60 – which until recently was one of the tallest skyscrapers in Japan. It has a top-floor observatory not to be missed. There is also a western Mailboxes Etc. CMRA on one of the top floors if you need to get a local mailbox or mail anything to the west.
Hidden away in the basement of Sunshine City is a vast mult-floor shopping mall. You can spend hours in here – and it’s so huge it’s easy to get lost. There is also another entrance to the mall on the east end of the major side street next to the the Tokyu Hands store.
As a historical footnote many locals believe Sunshine 60 to be haunted because after World War 2, the Japanese imperial army general Tojo was executed there. Several Japanese have committed suicide by jumping from its roof. There is also a very nice small park next to the area where you can kick back and chill. Sunshine City is around 35°43’45.15″ N 139°43’05.09″ E.
Entrance to Sunshine City Annex on the west side street.
To get to the most interesting side street, head south from JR Ikebukuro Staiton, turn left (east) at 35°43’48.45″ N 139°42’46.56″ E 2 blocks down, follow the sidewalk as it winds east, then cross at the Milky Way Café and head straight. Make note of this sidewalk and the small alley off it to the left for later below
This puts you right into the interesting main shopping street. As you come to the end of the street, turn right, then left again for Sunshine City. There is also an entrance to the underground mall part of Sunshine City about a block before the final right turn. You can’t miss it – it has a huge sign on the front of the bldg. next to the Tokyu Hands depato also on the right.
Main street in east Ikebukuro. Meiji-Dori runs north-south. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left.The white bldg. with the red sign on the left is Bic Camera.Just to the southeast is Yamada Denki (LABi). SEIBU + PARCO depatos are on the far left of the frame above the stations. The street to the left of Bic Camera leads to dozens of other interesting side streets on the north side of town.
A closer view of the PARCO bldg. on the east side. The JR station entrance is at the bottom of the bldg.
There’s also a Becker’s burger place just at the east exit of the station.
SEIBU Ikebukuro Station just south of the JR entrance above.
Entrance to the east side street @ the Milky Way Café, right.At the end of this street turn right for Sunshine City.
New South Ikebukuro Park
Around 35°43’41.35″ N 139°43’17.74″ E – just east of Sunshine City is brand new SouthIkebukuro Park. Completed in 2020, this stunning new park offers a huge green lawn, a café on the north end, and a large bike parking lot to the south. It’s just 1 block east of Sunshine City so if you’re in the area, check it out:
The underground bike park just to the south of SouthIkebukuro Park.
Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP)
In the basement of the station and under the east side of the streets is a small mall called Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP). There are portals to ISP in the station just before the east exit, as well as one on the sidewalk outside the station and in the middle of the crosswalk facing east. Most of ISP is underground.
About 1/2 way down the main side street to the east is another new complex called Q plaza. Well worth a stop. Lots of good cafés, and a CAPCOM store + café on the 4th floor. The sides streets all around this area are charming to explore and worth a walk. Plan on spending a whole day in the area.
There are endless food options around Ikebukuro. 2 really awesome places are Darcy’s Beer + Burger and Coffee Valley. Darcy’s has a triple-decker hamburger that is out of this world for $12. Not to be missed. We did a review of both places above. There are also no less than threeMr. Donut places around town – 2 on the West Gate Park side, and 1 older one tucked away on a backstreet on the east side. Not particularly healthy, but delicious. There are also endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places, and of course, the aforementioned MOS Burger. There’s also a Tully’s Coffee in Q plaza as well as a nice café called Peace and Lamb.
Japan’s food courts are a throwback to 1950’s-style dining. There are some on the top floors of depatos such as TOBU + SEIBU, and there are other standalone bldgs. which are all restaurants top to bottom. There’s no lack of good dining in Ikebukuro. In particular the food court in TOBU Ikebukuro is awesome – there’s a really great Hawaiian burger place, and lots of other restuarants. PARCO also has a food court + rooftop beer garden. Of course there are endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places everywhere. As well as fast food.
TOBU also has a basement Depachika (short for “depato basement”) – a huge food floor below ground level which is especially good. Here you can get everything from seafood, to packaged gift food, to deserts. If you’re in Ikebukuro definitely check out the food basement in TOBU.
Food court on top floor of TOBU on the west side.
Don’t worry – walking 15 miles/day sightseeing in Tokyo and you’ll burn it all off.
Pancakes – The New Tokyo Craze
A new food craze has hit Tokyo – pancake shops. They’re everywhere. In Ikebukuro there are several good ones but the 2 best are A Happy Pancake and
Around 35°43’48.11″ N 139°42’46.90″ E at the small side street mentioned above, turn left (north) into a small alley and a few stores down you’ll come to A Happy Pancake. This small underground shop has great food. Careful going down the stairs to the basement: they’re steep and there’s no handrail.
In the SEIBU depato a few blocks to the west is Rainbow Pancake – also a must-visit. Both are excellent, and worth the trip. All-in-all we would rate AHP best, but it’s up to you to decide on taste. There is also another AHP in Omotosando.
If it’s pancakes you want, Tokyo’s got ’em. Lots of ’em.
There are lots of other pancake places all over Tokyo. Get ready to eat.
Micro Food Stalls
All over Tokyo in stations + in other places you’ll see these tiny little food places everywhere. Most stations have them, and Ikebukuro Station is no different.
The Japanese love contractions and in this case “Press Butter Sand” means “Pressed Butter Sandwich”.
There are also lots of tiny micro food trucks in Tokyo – such as this crepe truck in Ikebukuro.
On the east-side backstreets is this great Italian restaurant – Palermo.
Just next to the oldest of the Mr. Donuts – on the east side – is a small concrete park with lots of food. One of the best places among them is the Saikyou Butter Coffee Shop.
On the north side the streets are a little less lively but interesting nonetheless. To the northeast just a few blocks is a small concrete park surrounded by restaurants and a large performing arts theather – Brilla Hall. This entire area is being renovated as of 2021. There are endless small side streets in the north end worth exploring. There are in fact, 2 more major north-south streets in the north area full of shops. Both entrances are around 35°43’54.13″ N 139°42’34.12″ E.
More Discount Stores: Don Quijotes + CAN ⭑ DO
Aside from Seria, there are several other discount stores in Ikebukuro. There are 2 Don Quijotes: 1 just northwest of the station, and another just east of the east exit right across the street. There is also a CAN ⭑ DO discount store just south down the street on the east side. Both Don Quijote + CAN ⭑ DO have some good cheap food selections + snacks.
The Don Quijote just to the northwest of the station.
The east-side Don Quijote across from the station is huge. The food basement is quite good.
Meiji-Dori to Itabashi
You can also walk north on Ikebukuro’s main street on the west side – Meiji-Dori a few miles north to the small town of Itabashi.
There are plenty of good hotels in Ikebukuro which won’t break the bank. We recommend checking agoda.com for rates. One of the best, of course, is the APA hotel, which is very clean + upscale but under $70/night in most cases. It is however a bit further to the northwest but can be easily walked from in a few blocks. There is the aforementioned Sakura Hostel, which is great if you’re on a budget. There is also the Hotel Metropolitan – which is upscale and very good, but much more expensive at around $130/night. There is also Sunshine City Prince Hotel.
The weird cat obsession that is gripping Japan can be found at several cat cafés all over the city, but in Ikebukuro the place for cats is Nekobukuro Cat’s House (ねこぶくろ) – a petting zoo for cats located on the eighth floor of the IkebukuroTokyu Hands store. If you’re into cats check out their site at https://nekobukuro.com/Tokyu Hands is just at the end of the east side street in the small Sunshine City building across from Victoria’s Sports around 35°43’48.45″ N 139°43’00.02″ E.
Victoria’s Sports across the street from Sunshine City.
Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas and is a thrill to visit. A must-see. There’s so much to do here plan on spending a couple of days. There are endless places to eat + things to do, yet the area is not so huge that’s it’s overwhelming like some other parts of Tokyo.
Night view from West Gate Park facing south. Global Ring is in the center.
Inside LUMINE complex.
At the north end of West Gate Park is this side street. If you turn right here, then left, you’ll find the entrance to the small tunnel which leads to the east side of the station:
Turn right at the tunnel entrance a few yards ahead to get to the east side.
As you exit the tunnel on the east side, you’ll see the PARCO building shown here. If you turn south from here, you’ll see the main larger PARCO bldg. and just beyond that, the east entrance to JR Ikebukuro Station.
Northeast side at night. Yamada Denki is the tall bldg. on the right.
An early morning West Gate Park tourist breakfast: some ham, a few croissants, a conbini (convenience store) hot dog, a BOSS Coffee and a pint of milk. Rice-fed cows’ milk in Japan tastes like a bowl of Rice Chex cereal, unlike milk in the west.Contrary to popular perception in the west, you can eat pretty cheap in Japan, although it’s not optimally healthy.
View of Shinjuku from the roof of Sunshine City. Just beyond, barely visible in the distance is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama 40 miles to the southwest.
Inside Sunshine 60’s observatory – which affords spectacular views of Tokyo in all directions.Looking out the window shown here to the right provides a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree.
An epic panorama facing west. On the far right is Ikebukuro to the north, the tallest bldg. of which is Sunshine 60, and Shinjuku on the far left to the south. If you look closely, the farthest left bldg. on the main skyline is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building (Yoyogi is just south of Shinjuku).The large white object in the right center is Tokyo Dome to the east. You can walk to all 3 areas, but the distance from one to another is quite a hike and would take a couple of hours.
Phone map of Ikebukuro. The station is in the center.
Facing northeast. The station is out of view to the left (west). Turn right at the bottom of the photo for the main side street with shops. A Happy Pancake is just down a tiny alley next to the brown bldg. on the right side of the frame.The first Bic Camera Annex is just to the left of the alley.Yamada Denki is the large white bldg. on the far left of the frame. If you head down the side street to the right of the next bldg. you’ll find Coffee Valley. The older Mr. Donut is also down here. The small green-roofed object in the lower left corner is the entrance to the undergorund Ikebukuro Shopping Park (ISP).
The end of the side street on the east side. Head right (south) here to get to Sunshine City.
Another view of the Milky Way Café, left, facing south.Turn left here for Sunshine Cityand the main side street.Heading straight ahead to the south eventually brings you to Shinjuku.
YA view of the Milky Way Café.
Just left of the Mily Way Café facing north.
Tokyu Hands entrance just next to the Sunshine City Annex.
The ISP street entrance just east of the JR station.
Entrance to another side street in Ikebukuro which runs north-south.
Entrance to Yamada Denki, on the east side. The small yellow boxes are Gatchapon dispensers – which sell very popular small toys.
A large NAMCO arcade.
Another view of Q plaza.
Hidin’ on the backstreets.
Looking back west from the east end of the long side street. The station is straight ahead. The entrance to Tokyu Hands and Sunshine City is on the left.
If you turn left (south) at the previous photo you’ll come upon K-BOOKS book + game stores. Sunshine 60‘s main complex is down a few blocks on the left. If you head further down, across the street from Sunshine 60 on the corner, you’ll find a great cheap coin locker on the corner:
If you are coming from Sky Tree, there are two possible trips – you can take Rt. 453 down, southeast, and the park will be to your left, but a better way from Sky Tree is to take Yotsume Dori south, stop first at Kinshi Park, then check out the area around Kinshicho Station 1 block to the south, then continue south a few blocks to Sarue-Onshi Park, check it out, then head east on Shin-Ohashi Dori (Rt. 50) all the way into Ojima Komatsugawa Park.
This might sound like a lot but it’s not really – the distances are only a few miles and if you get tired you can stop at one of the parks, or shopping malls to rest. You can also take a train to Kinshicho Station and then head east to the park. The area around Kinshicho Station is definitely a must-see.
Also, 1 block north of Kinshi Park is Olinas Core – a major shopping area worth a look. There’s a nice Yamada Denki store here as well. 2 blocks to the south is a big 3-story Doutour cafe.
Doutor @ Kinshi Park. Olinas Core is visible on the right up the street 1 block, facing north.
Also just a little east of Kinshicho Station is Komeida, another area worth looking at. There’s a small Don Quijote store here, and a Mr. Donut right across from it.
You can do all these on the way to the park, or just cruise through them for a look on your way. On bike the entire trip is only a few hours, on foot, a day-trip and back.
Ojima Komatsugawa Park is shown at the lower right corner next to the Arakawa River. Sky Tree is northwest – in the upper left corner, Kinshi Park is in the center left, and Sakuae Park is in the lower left. Rt. 50 runs left to right (west to east).
As you approach the park, 1 block before the entrance is a huge apartment complex with a Mr. Donut, MOS Burger, post office, and Aeon supermarket on the ground floor:
This is facing north. When you arrive here, continue east (right) for 1 block until you come to the park entrance.
Continue east on 50 and you’ll come to a big curve which veers south. This is where the park entrance is. Head up the stairs and into the park:
Next, you’ll come to a big tiled overpass. Cross over, head straight, and you’ll enter the circular path that rings the park:
Walk along the ringed path, and you’ll be in the park. Sky Tree is still visible in the distance to the northwest.
Park layout. The long tiled walkway after the entrance is shown in the upper center of the above map – just to the left of the large walkway ringing the park.Rt. 50 is just below it.
After the park, go back the way you came, hit the MOS Burger or Mr. Donut for some refreshment, then head back to your original location – or head back to Kinshicho and check out some of the shops at PARCO, Marui (OIOI), or Termina right near the station. There is also a very good SEIYU discount grocery in the basement of the PARCO complex.
As a footnote, on Rt. 50 (Shin-Ohashi Dori), between Sarue Park and Ojima Komatsugawa Koén is the futuristic capsule hotel, Moon Station Hotel located at 35°41’22.61″ N 139°49’37.57″ E. This is a mixed and women-only luxury capsule hotel with futuristic deluxe and small rooms with ambient lighting and a space-station design. Capusles are fairly cheap – ranging from $42-$78/night. Another futurisitc oddity that could only happen in Japan.
If you’re flying to Nartia Airport in Japan, you may want to consider staying over a few nights in Narita City just southwest of the airport.
Take the Keisei Line from the airport to Narita Station and get off.
There are 2 different lines + stations in Narita – the Keisei Line + the JR lines at the JR station. Both stations are within a few blocks of each other near the town square. Don’t get these confused with the stations at the airport. Narita City is actually a few miles southwest of the airport.
There are many good hotels in Narita City but we recommend APA Narita Ekimae – it’s 1 block from the station, very clean, quiet, and reasonably priced at around $65/night. You’ll see the word Ekimae at many hotels in Japan. It means “At the station”.
Just north of the airport is also the Narita View Hotel at around $50-60/night. Well worth the money + closer to the airport. Just keep in mind this option is outside the town of Narita itself so you’ll have to take the train into town to sightsee.
There are countless other quality hotels in the area. Use one of the online booking sites, but we recommend agoda.com.
Quick side trip @ Narita International: Nippon Origami Museum + Shop
If you’re not dead tired and are up for it, while still in the airport, check out the Nippon Origami Museum on the 3rd floor of Terminal 1. It’s an amazing little origami museum and it’s right nearby – or leave early on your return trip and check it out on your way back. Worth a stop.
Narita City itself is a charming old small town with lots to do.
There are stations for both JR trains and Keisei lines in the same block in the town square.
Step off the train from the aiport onto a local street and you’re instanly in small town Japan.
Unless you’re flying in from Asia, it’s likely your flight was long. You can rest in Narita City overnight, before heading back to the airport to catch the NE’X or Skyliner into Tokyo.
Just to the left of the JR Narita Station in the city square is the Narita City Tourist Information Office. There’s actually a lot to do in Narita City – including a nice museum. Also be sure to check out the impressive Narita City Hall.
View of business district in Narita City.The edge of the city hall is the sloped green-roofed bldg. on the left center in this photo.You can also walk a few miles down the main street shown above to the south and back for some nice exercise.
Entering Narita City Square from the south. Turn right here for Narita Omotosando. The JR Narita Station is out of frame to the left.
Narita City Square.APA Hotel is the small white bldg. in the distance to the left of the tall brown bldg. on the right.
JR Narita Station, right. The Narita Tourism Office is just to the left in the same building. Turn right at this light and go north here to get to the main shopping area. In the 3-story bldg. on the left there is a very nice and large Family Mart. Also, just to the left in the tall Skytown Narita, there is a cultural center, and various shops and other attractions.
Keisei Narita Station – take the Keisei Skyliner out of Narita International Airport and get off here.This is just across from the town square.
Narita City Hall
There’s a huge map of Narita City just next to the city hall.
Most hotels in Narita City are conveniently located. Easy to use convenience stores (conbini) and parking abound.
Eat like a king cheap out of conbini (convenience stores). A lot of the food is quite healthy such as cheap pre-made salads, lemon tea, and vegetable drinks. This entire meal only cost around 600¥ (about $6).
You can actaully have a great time in Narita City just walking around. Pick a street and just start walking to see what you’ll discover. If you’re up for getting a Japanese Driver’s License, you can even buy a brand new Honda scooter at local dealers for as little as $900, like the one shown below. The real attraction in Narita is the long shopping street just to the north of the town square. Nippon Wandering TV covered this street in the video shown at the end of this post. To get there go west from either station, into the city square, then turn right (north) immediately. There are all kinds of nice little shops along this street which are well worth a stroll.
Narita is full of simple + charming small homes such as this one.Note the typhoon shutters on the left side.
Narita City has plenty of old-school charm to keep you occupied – well worth a few days exploring.
Epic train tracks heading back to Narita International.Narita City Hall is just across the street to the right, out of frame.
NaritasanPark, International Cultural Center, Shinsho-ji Temple + Great Pagoda of Peace
If you’re feeling adventurous, walk one mile from Narita City Center on backstreets or just north of Naritasan Park to get to a large AEONshopping mall. There is also a street called Narita Omotesando on the way lined with lots of traditional shops + restaurants. You’ll have to map a route on foot on Google Earth from the city center to the mall. It’s not very far. The mall has a grocery, lots of shops and a nice bike shop called AEONBike. There are also buses to the mall. The mall actually has some fairly good food places as well including a Tully’s Coffee which has charge outlets for devices.
About 5 miles northwest of Narita City is the Boso no Mura Open Air Museum. This quaint little outdoor museum is a recreation of a small town in the Edo period. It’s well worth a look. There’s no direct way to get to it except by motor vehicle or on foot. It’s a bit of a hike – and it will be around 10 miles round trip. If you’re up for it, take the Narita Aijiki By-Pass road from Narita northwest. The road is narrow with no sidewalks so you’ll have to be careful due to motor vehicle traffic. To get there from Narita City Center, walk north to AEON Mall first, then head west down Narita Aijiki By-Pass road. You’ll have to map the route on Google Earth or an online map site.
About 6 miles south of Nartia City center is the Shisui Premium Outlets mall. This is a massive (and we mean huge) mall with hundreds of discount premium shops. It’s well worth a stop. If you don’t have motor vehicle access, your next best option is a bus, or taxi. If you don’t want to spring for those, a bike will work just fine. You could walk it on foot if you’re in shape, but you’ll have to take a slightly circular route south on Rt. 409, then west at Rt. 77, then back north on a side street. Total circular distance from Narita City is about 7 miles – so round-trip on foot would be quite a hike, but on a bicycle would be trivial. The outlet is @ 35°42’48.05″ N 140°17’38.28″ E. See the outlet’s site for a complete list of shops. Interestingly, the entire interior walkways of the complex have been mapped on Google Earth so you can also use that to get a view.
While trains are one of the easiest ways of getting from Narita during the day, they aren’t really an option late at night. The N’EX is $36, last leaves Terminal 1 at 9:44pm depositing you at Tokyo Station just under 60 min, and Ikebukuro at 11:09pm (which should give you enough time to transfer to a connecting train for you area, if it isn’t one of those).
N’EX Round Trip can be purchased from JR EAST Service Centers + JR Ticket Offices at Narita Terminals 1, 2·3. Purchase is not available outside Japan, we recommend buying the ticket immediately on arrival.
Adults $60-$70. Tickets are valid 14 days. Trains operate every 30 mins + take about an hour from Narita to Tokyo station. Use Ordinary Car reserved seats on Narita Express. A one-way ticket is valid for use on one limited express.
Narita Airport Transit + Stay Program + Free Guided Tours
What is the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program?
Incredibly, there are free guided tours around Narita by the Narita Airport Transit + Stay Program. The program connects you with locals who know the area inside and out and are willing to show you around or help you reach your destination. What a great idea.
From the website:
“The Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program helps you do just that by offering a range of both guided and self-guided tours for travelers on a budget. Our English-speaking volunteer tour guides are completely free – you only need to cover personal expenses like transportation – letting you focus on the tour and not on your wallet.
If you have a layover of several hours at Narita Airport, or if you are staying at a hotel in the Narita area and are looking for a way to spend a half-day, don’t miss the opportunity to take part in one of these Japanese cultural experiences or to see the best sights around!”.
Footnote: T-CAT As a Cheap Return Alternative
Here’s a cheap travel hack for the return trip to Narita when you’re ready to leave Japan: Use the Tokyo City Air Terminal (aka T-CAT) bus service. This little -known bus service is way out on the east side of Tokyo right in the Metro Hanzomon Line’s Suitengumae (pronounced Sweet-ten-goo-may) Station. There is also First Cabin Suitengumae capsule hotel just 3 blocks down the street from T-CAT @ around $42/night. When you’re ready to return to Narita you could take the NE’X or Skyliner back, but the T-CAT bus service will shoot you there in silent comfortfor a mere $9. It also has busses to Haneda Airport.
To get to T-CAT, jump on the Metro Hanzomon Line down to Suitengumae Station, and take the City Air Terminal District Gate exit. You can also enter the station from the street. In fact, it’s only a few miles from Tokyo Station itself so you can even walk there from Tokyo Sta. – and see some sights along the way. You can also make reservations on T-CAT’s website in advance. It will save you about $12 compared to taking, say, Keisei Skyliner to Narita from Ueno.
Metro Hanzomon Line map. Suitengumae is roughly in the center (Z10), shown in red, and Otemachi Sta. is just 2 stops to the east at Z08. You can also take the line all the way to its western terminus @ Shibuya, shown on the far left, or Oshiagé/SKYTREE, its eastern terminus, shown on the far right.The Mitsukoshimae stop (Z09) is in Nihombashii just to the north + stops in the basement of the Mitsukoshi Depato (department store), which is well worth a look.
If you are on bike you can park your bike for up to 24 hrs. at the very nice Royal Park Hotel Nihonbashii just down the street for a few ¥. The lockers are outside on the east side, but the place is very safe + the hotel staff will even be willing to help you if you’re not staying there since it’s their bike park. You can lock your bike, jump a bus, or train, go where you need + return later for your bike. The hotel is at 35°40’54.88″ N 139°47’13.24″ E(2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo). This here map shows roughly the relationship between all 3 places:
There is also another public outdoor bike locker on this route.
Be careful with Otemachi Sta. – it’s easy to get sucked into its labyrinth shopping malls + corridors which go on for miles inside + underground.
First Cabin Suitengumae is on the left tucked down this quiet residential side street.The main street, Etai-Dori is just to the right out of frame. Turn right on Etai-Dori and head a few blocks west to get to T-CAT.
First Cabin Suitengumae has a nice Lawson conbini just up the street. Step outside and turn right and you’ll be facing the street that takes you to T-CAT .There’s also a postal drop box here.
Welcome, dear traveler, to First Cabin‘s futuristic sleeping pods: