Places that everyone would know in the greater Tokyo area include areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno, and Yokohama, but there are many other spots just 10 minutes away by train from the famous ones that you can enjoy. Here are 5 of them.
Shimokitazawa is an easily-accessible area, just 4 minutes away from Shibuya by train and 7 minutes away from Shinjuku. It's a small neighborhood but the narrow, winding streets are full of interesting, unique shops so young people interested in fashion have been interested in the area. If you go to Shimokitazawa, you should definitely check out the secondhand stores. You can find anything here from street fashion to vintage pieces, Japan-made or internationally-made fashions, accessories, and more for reasonable prices. Also, Shimokitazawa is famous for theaters and live houses. You can enjoy avant-garde shows and performances that embody Japan's subcultures. When you get tired of walking, you can rest in a cheap and delicious restaurant or coffee. There are many restaurants and drinking establishments in Shimokitazawa that are very particular about their atmosphere and their meals, but we especially recommend the reasonably priced okonomiyaki restaurant. When you go to Shibuya or Shinjuku, please drop by Shimokitazawa as well.
1. Shimokitazawa: overflowing with unique shops! A neighborhood popular with young people
Sugamo, just a 5 minute train ride away from Ikebukuro Station, is an extremely popular neighborhood with elderly people from around the country. It's also called "Grandma's Harajuku" because just like young people gather for the latest fashions in Harajuku, Sugamo is filled with shops catering to seniors. You should check out the Togenuki Jizo at Koganji Temple and the Sugamo Jizo-doori shopping arcade. Togenuki Jizo are Jizo statues (guardian statues) that are said to relieve pain, so many people go to rub the Jizo's body. Once you're done with the Togenuki Jizo, head to the shopping arcade! Here you can find plenty of souvenirs and reasonably priced eating establishments, but something you should get are the red underwear extremely popular with Japanese elderly people. In Japan it's said that wearing red brings you health and luck, so it's a color of good fortune. There are stores specializing in red underwear, so definitely look for them!
2. Sugamo: Investigate Grandma's Harajuku! 5 minutes from Ikebukuro
Negishi sits just a five minute train ride away from Ueno Station. Negishi, the area north of Uguisudani Station, is a nostalgic neighborhood filled with old nagaya (tenement houses) and stores. The narrow streets are lined with candy shops and temples that carry history and tradition, and many houses that belonged to literary people still remain. This is one spot where you can take photos of Japan's traditional landscape, so please take a leisurely walk with your camera in hand. On the street called Uguisu-doori, the haiku master Masaoka Shiki's house Shikian remains, and you can go in. If you're hungry, you can try the tofu specialty restaurant that opened during the Edo period, Sasa no Yuki. This restaurant uses tofu in everything, from appetizers, the main dish, and even dessert, so it's very popular with healthy eaters. Why not drop by when you're visiting Ueno?
3. Negishi: take a walk through Japan's old townscape♪ 5 minutes from Ueno
The area around Kawasaki Station, right in the middle between Tokyo Station and Yokohama Station, is an area full of shopping areas and entertainment. Inside JR Kawasaki Station and the area around it is connected with a large shopping center, and there are shops offering a variety of items including fashion, home appliances, and food. Also, if you walk just 5 minutes away from the station, you'll reach LA CITTADELLA, a shopping complex that will make you feel like you accidentally wandered into an Italian town square. There you'll find various entertainment options, including one of the largest the largest movie theater in the greater Tokyo area CINECITTA' and the theater CLUB CITTA where plays and fashion shows are often held. If you have interest in science or art, you can also check out the Toshiba Science Museum or the Kawasaki City Museum. At the Toshiba Science Museum, you can experience and learn about the latest scientific techniques so it's a place that people of all ages can enjoy.
4. Kawasaki: smack-dab between Tokyo and Yokohama! A large commerce area
The Nakano area, just 5 minutes from Shinjuku Station by train, is a neighborhood where you can truly experience modern Japanese culture like manga, anime, theater, and concerts. The shopping center near Nakano Station's north exit, Nakano Broadway, is known as a subculture Mecca where you can find a variety of stores offering genres like anime, manga, video games, figurines, cosplay outfits, and more crammed into one building. Compared to Akihabara, an area known for being the holy land for anime lovers, Nakano's distinguishing feature is that it has more stores selling retro goods like old books and valuable collectible toys. Outside of Nakano Broadway there are many pop art stores and maid cafes, so since you can get your fill of Japanese subcultures just in this one area, many people both from within and out of Japan come to visit. Also, in Nakano's landmark Nakano Sun Plaza, there's a large concert hall where a wide variety of concerts and plays and events that you can enjoy are often held.
5. Nakano: a neighborhood rife with subculture
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.