This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)Manish Prabhune/Flickr
Have you found yourself in Tokyo Station with more than a few hours to kill?
Is it raining out and you just don’t know what to do in Tokyo that isn’t outside?
Are you tired of temples, gardens, history and all that ancient Japan stuff?
Did your shinkansen leave without you and you’re just too tired to deal with getting on another train so soon?
Never fear. If you’re stuck in Tokyo Station–willingly or unwillingly–you can easily spend a whole day there.
First, find a coin locker
If you have luggage and you’ll be spending a few hours in the station, your best bet is to find a coin locker. Depending on the day, whether or not it’s raining, and how much luggage you have, you might not be able to find a coin locker stand with enough open spaces (or any at all), but Tokyo Station is HUGE. You might find a locker on the complete opposite side, but it’ll be worth it when you can walk around hands-free (and you’ll need it for your shopping).
On the other hand, if you’re going to another part of Japan, you can have your luggage shipped to your hotel or wherever you’re staying. This is very convenient, and people do this all the time. There are numerous shipping services in Tokyo Station. Here’s a guide.
11 AM – 1 PM: Find your way to the Yaesu Exit
Wherever you are in the station, begin by making your way toward the Yaesu Side of Tokyo Station, which is naturally by the Yaesu Exit. This is where all of the good indoor stuff is.
If you meander slowly enough through Tokyo Station, chances are someone will give you a dirty look, especially if you have big luggage. My advice is: don’t walk like you have nowhere to be, but don’t run, either.
You’ll know you’re close to the Yaesu side when you start seeing a lot of shops. Not just convenience stores, but real shops where you can buy anything from clothes to cold medicine. Once you’re in the Yaesu area, you can enjoy an hour of shopping or just looking around. If you want, you can head towards the Daimaru, which is a giant department store, and check out the brand goods on each floor or the food area in the basement. (If you go on a weekend, they’ll have free samples.)
Between the Marunouchi side and the Yaesu side is another shopping area called Gransta, which means more shopping and cafes.
1 PM – 2:30 PM: Lunch on Kitchen Street
Kitchen Street: the name says it all. Kitchen Street is just a maze of restaurants. You can find anything here, from light meals to bars to izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) to gourmet fancy meals. Be prepared for lines at some places. Some move fast, while others can take hours.
If you happen to pass by Ramen Street on First Avenue, save it for dinner! Ramen is heavy, and you definitely won’t want to be walking around the station afterwards.
2:30 – 5 PM: Shopping, shopping, shopping – or more ancient Japan stuff
If you haven’t gotten it by now, there is SO MUCH shopping to do in Tokyo Station. If you have kids, like anime/cute characters, or want to bring souvenirs back home, I recommend you go to Character Street.
Character Street is a long passageway filled with shops selling popular Japanese animated characters, like Hello Kitty, One Piece or Domo-kun. There are shops from each television station, so you can buy goods from TV dramas and variety shows here, too. It will definitely take you the better part of an hour, if not more, to go through all of these shops. And once you’re done, you’ll have spent more than you expected to…
If you want to explore the area around Tokyo Station, rain or shine, you can check out Kitte, a new and stylish shopping building which also houses the Tokyo Central Post Office, or even walk to the Imperial Palace (5 minutes). Details, as well as other things to see if you leave the station, are here.
5 PM: Dinner on Ramen Street
First, you must find Tokyo Ramen Street amidst the labyrinth of passageways, shops, and restaurants that comprise the Grand Central Station-like Tokyo Station. Watch for signs, or even better, ask someone official-looking “Ramen Street, doko desu ka?”
Eight of the best were invited to open at Tokyo Ramen Street, and the response has been stunning. The restaurants are open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with some variation, but go during prime lunch or dinner hours, and you’ll be sure to find lines. The longest lines are always at Rokurinsha, famous for its thick noodles served tsukemen-style with dipping sauce, where people are known to wait well over an hour for a precious seat.
You WILL be totally full after you eat a huge bowl of ramen. But if you’re still up for walking it off…
7 PM: Omiyage Shopping
If you didn’t do this earlier while you were shopping your heart out, hit up Okashi Land. “Okashi” means sweets (make sure you don’t add another i sound at the end, because this turns it into “okashii,” which means strange), and you will definitely find yourself in a land full of snacks. You can buy for yourself, or grab some omiyage (souvenirs) for other people.
There are shops from a bunch of famous snack companies, such as Calbee and Glico, so you can stock up on your year’s worth of Pocky.
8 PM: The night lights
When it gets dark outside, make sure you head out to the remodeled side of Tokyo Station (the part that looks like it’s from another era) and see how it looks at night. The view may not be as spectacular as some of the nightscapes you’ll see in Japan, but it is definitely beautiful.
Did you enjoy your day at Tokyo Station? Keep in mind there’s so much more to do than this. Grab a floor guide (they have them in English) and have fun!