A Guide on What to Do Around Tokyo Station Before Catching Your Train: Shop, Dine, and Relax!
- Published: Jul 11 2019
- Last updated:
While Tokyo Station is known primarily as one of the main transportation hubs in Japan's capital city of Tokyo, it is also a prime shopping, dining, and relaxation spot full of things to do and see. Next time you have to board a train from Tokyo Station, why not arrive early and explore a bit? In addition to being extra sure you won't miss your train, you will be able to take your time leisurely enjoying the bevy of delights and conveniences this station has on offer! This article shows our top picks for enjoying the station area. Whether you're looking to spend a whole day around Tokyo Station or you're just waiting for your train, it is sure to come in useful!
*Article created in collaboration with JR East Retail Net Co., Ltd.
About Tokyo Station, ecute Tokyo, and ecute Keiyo Street
Located in central Tokyo and connected to over 15 train lines, Tokyo Station is one of the main transportation hubs in Tokyo. Thanks to it being a boarding point in Tokyo for the shinkansen (bullet train) along with the Ueno and Shinagawa areas, this enormous terminal is also one of the busiest in the world, with people from not just Tokyo, but also from big cities all over Japan traversing through it. In essence, it is a gateway to and from Japan.
Inside the station, there are many shops selling souvenirs from all over the country. There are also plenty of delectable restaurants and food stores, from well-established places that offer up the unique tastes of Japan to shops that sell the latest dishes that are currently trending in the country.
Further inside the station and past the ticket gates, there are popular restaurants which get such long lines that you would think you entered a large commercial complex in the city, as well as variety shops, sweets stores, cafes, and other places that got featured on TV, in magazines, the Internet, and so on. Established to take advantage of the sheer number of visitors and the inherent convenience Tokyo Station holds, they hope to provide visitors with plenty of stores where they can shop and eat while waiting for their transfers.
Out of all the offerings you'll find past the ticket gates, the one facility that stands out is ecute. Its name is stringed together by taking the first letters of the words "eki" (train station in Japanese), "center," "universal," "together," and "enjoy," and contains the overall sentiment of "being a comfortable space in a train station where people can gather and have fun."
There's a wide variety to be had here, including famous stores that have been featured in various media, shops that sell souvenirs from all over Japan, and even convenience stores that carry a range of daily necessities and other items. A huge range of restaurants also populate the scene, offering everything from traditional flavors unique to Japan to brand new creations that people will line up for. Inside the gates of Tokyo Station, ecute has created a space where people from all walks of life come and go, and thanks to the wide variety of incredibly convenient offerings, they have garnered support from people of all types, regardless of age or gender.
The station is home to a huge variety of shops, restaurants, and other facilities located both before and after passing through the ticket gates. Those who are looking for ways to pass the time, grab a bite to eat, or pick up some souvenirs or other goods after they have already passed through the ticket gates should look no further than ecute Tokyo and ecute Keiyo Street.
With that, here is a guide to just a sampling of some of the things you can eat, buy, and do in both ecute Tokyo and ecute Keiyo Street. If you have some time to spare during your travels, you'll definitely want to give this in-station mall a visit!
1. Indulge in Sweets or a Meal from a Sit-down Restaurant or Bento Counter
If you've arrived at Tokyo Station with an hour or more to spare, why not take your time and indulge in a delicious meal? One recommended restaurant within ecute Keiyo Street is T's Tantan, an all-vegan restaurant specializing in ramen and tantan-men. Their noodle soup is flavored with sesame paste and/or miso and soy sauce to make it taste as close to regular ramen as possible.
Although vegan food is becoming more widely known throughout the world, it is still pretty hard to find in Japan. That said, even if you're not vegan, T's Tantan is well worth a visit, as this is a rare chance to see how umami-rich dishes like ramen can be replicated without any meat or animal products! Plus, the broth made with plenty of vegetables, spices, and miso or soy sauce is so savory and delicious, you would never guess there is no meat in it.
Some of the sides like vegan gyoza (dumplings) and soy protein karaage (fried "chicken") are more obvious meat substitutes, but they are still delicious and filling, and won't leave you feeling unsatisfied or missing meat. If you were a particular fan of your meal at T's Tantan, make sure to pick up some instant ramen by the checkout register before you leave!
If you don't have enough time to sit down and enjoy a full meal, then you should check out the many shops in ecute Tokyo and ecute Keiyo Street that sell bento (lunch boxes), sandwiches, and other to-go meals that can be enjoyed there at the station or after boarding your train*. Bento sold at train stations actually have a special name - ekiben ("eki" is the Japanese word for station and "ben" is taken from the word "bento") - and eating one while riding a shinkansen and sipping on some cold beer is even considered a valuable Japanese cultural experience by many.
*Note that while people commonly eat on shinkansen and other trains that have tray tables attached to the seats (such as express trains to airports), it is considered rude to eat while on subways or other regular trains.
Tsukiji Kiyomura is a good example of the type of food vendor you can find in ecute Tokyo. They sell a selection of bento and sushi based on fresh seafood, but also have offerings like bento with simmered clams or broiled eel.
The Cup Chirashizushi is a great option if you want to enjoy a wide variety of flavors and textures in one dish. Rice mixed with orange masago (shishamo smelt roe) is topped with shrimp, tuna, cucumber, Green Curl lettuce, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), ikura (salmon roe), Japanese pickles, and some mayo. There's a lot of flavors going on at once, but they all work in harmony to create an extremely satisfying (and suprisingly filling!) dish, all for just 1,000 yen - a very reasonable price for lunch.
Even if you arrive at the station having already eaten a meal or with an ekiben ready, you will find yourself drawn by the delicious-looking sweets and snacks sold in the area. There is a huge variety to be found, encompassing everything from wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) to ice cream, baked goods, and edible souvenirs packed into cute boxes.
It would be hard to walk by siretoco donuts and not pick up one of their insanely cute donuts topped with their signature mascot! These baked donuts come in a variety of flavors, such as Hokkaido Milk, Japanese Pumpkin, and Chocolate Chip. You'll definitely want to take pictures of how adorable they look and put them up on social media!
They also have a variety of decorated donuts, which all come with the Hokkaido Milk flavor and chocolate icing. There are exclusive decorations for Tokyo Station that replicate the red brick exterior of the station building, as well as other uniquely decorated donuts. When ordering them, you can even specify if you want "Tokyo" written in Roman lettering or in Japanese characters.
2. Go Shopping for Souvenirs or Last-minute Supplies
Whether you want to pick up some souvenirs, stock up on some last-minute clothing or supplies for your trip, or simply stretch your legs and explore the station, you will definitely want to check out the shopping options in Tokyo Station and ecute Keiyo Street. Foreign visitors to the station will also want to keep their passport handy in order to take advantage of the many shops with tax-free options!
One such shop is UNIQLO, a fast-fashion boutique and one of Japan's most recognizable global brands. The ecute Tokyo location of UNIQLO may be on the smaller side, but it is packed to the brim with a huge variety of fashion essentials and seasonal items for all ages and genders. If you misjudged the climate at your destination or there was a sudden change in weather, this is the place you will want to visit to pick up an emergency rain jacket!
UNIQLO is also known for releasing collaboration apparel with popular designers and characters, so be on the lookout for those as well. Many foreign tourists actually come to this UNIQLO location to pick up some Japan-exclusive items as souvenirs before returning back to their home countries.
Another good place to pick up some last-minute supplies or snacks is a conbini, or Japanese convenience store. They are an integral part of Japanese people's lives, selling a wide range of daily necessities including pre-packaged snacks and sweets, drinks, stationery, cleaning and hygiene products, and magazines.
While in Tokyo Station, your top choice for a good convenience store is the NewDays located within ecute Keiyo Street. This is one of the most popular convenience stores in all of Tokyo, with around 10,000 customers per day, and is well-stocked with a wide variety of snacks like onigiri (rice balls) and sandwiches.
Giving souvenirs (called "omiyage") is a huge part of Japanese culture, so train stations and department stores in Japan are always full of shops selling beautifully packaged and delicious souvenirs for travelers to take back to their friends, families, and coworkers.
Head over to HANAGATAYA to find an extensive selection of edible Tokyo souvenirs to take home with you (or eat on the train - we won't judge!), consisting mostly of various sweets as well as savory items. One popular choice is Hiyoko, a cute bird-shaped bun filled with sweet bean paste. This sweet is beloved throughout Japan for its cute appearance just as much as for its delicious taste! The packaging changes to match the seasons, so you're always in for a fun surprise no matter when you buy it.
Another good option to bring home as a souvenir is a variety box that includes many different sweets and snacks for your family and friends back home to enjoy. For that, we recommend Ginza Matsuzaka Senbei, which includes a wide selection of colorful yet refined crackers, arare (roasted mochi pieces), and okaki (mochi cut thin, dried, and then baked or fried).
There's also Nippon-Ichi, a Nara-based shop that sells stationery, accessories, and other Japanese goods like folding fans. Their symbol is a deer, and if you look closely you may find a small deer motif hidden on some of their products, such as the gather pouch pictured below, which also features a drawing of the red brick building of Tokyo Station.
3. Take a Seat and Relax Until Your Train
If you would rather sit down and relax than wander around the station or go shopping, there are plenty of options for that, too. In addition to a small seating area in ecute Tokyo, there are also a number of cafes where you can pass the time.
One choice is Hint Indie Books, which, in addition to being a bookstore, is also a cafe known for their Japanese curry! You'll also be happy to know that they have a tax-free counter where you can get tax refunds on eligible products.
Another option is ANDERSEN, a bakery and cafe with an atmospheric seating area where you can spend a casual time watching commuters walk back and forth as they use the station for their commute or for a trip. As long as you don't mind paying for a drink or small snack, cafes like these are perfect for spending some time before your train compared to the waiting areas, which can get quite noisy and cramped.
Create Time in Your Schedule to Explore Tokyo Station!
If you have to pass through Tokyo Station during your travels to and from Tokyo, we recommend that you go there a bit early! Not only will you not have to rush to catch your train, but you can also fully enjoy all the shopping and food that in-station areas like ecute have to offer! By all means, use this article as a guide next time you're in Tokyo Station so you will know how to fill your time.
Hours of operation:
Sweets: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM (9:30 PM)
Foods: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM (9:30 PM)
Food Shows: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM (9:30 PM)
Bakery Cafe & Book Cafe: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM (9:30 PM)
Goods: 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM (9:30 PM)
ecute Keiyo Street
Hours of operation:
Sweets: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Foods: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Restaurants & Cafes: 7:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Goods: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Convenience Store: 5:00 AM - 12:15 AM
NewDays ecute Keiyo Street
Hours of operation: 5:00 AM - 12:15 AM
Official Website: https://www.j-retail.jp/en/
* The bracketed times refer to the closing times on Sundays and national holidays.
* Some stores have different hours of operation from the times shown above.
* The last order time for restaurants and cafes is 30 minutes before their closing time.
Thumbnail: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.