Tokyo Station is a great place to start your exploration of Tokyo, with upmarket restaurants and bars only minutes away from track-side yokocho—it has art galleries, department stores and more—all within walking distance.
Whether you want to stay in the labyrinths of the station’s many internal streets or venture out into the business central of Marunouchi, you’ll have plenty to see in and around Tokyo Station. Although it is not one of the biggest or oldest stations, it is beautiful—and manages to combine the modern and traditional influences of Tokyo, as well as Japanese and Western. So if you’re on a day trip, have time to kill or want to explore—here are ten suggestions to keep you fed, cultured and happy!
1. Tokyo Ramen Street
Before you step outside into the cold/sweltering heat, fill up on some of the best ramen in the city at Tokyo Ramen Street. In Japan, train stations are a mecca for good food, and this one is no exception. Tokyo Station invited 8 of the best restaurants in town to open up shop and you can try everything from rich tonkotsu to mouth-watering shio to vegan options. There may be queues but it is worth the wait, and there is plenty of information posted about each restaurant. And don’t forget to read our full Tokyo Ramen Street guide!
Towards the Yaesu Underground Central Exit of the Station, B1
2. Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
The museum is located in the eye-catchingly classic red brick building originally designed by English architect Josiah Condor in 1894 following the end of national seclusion. It was actually torn down in 1968 but was faithfully reconstructed according to the original plans and using some original features. The museum focuses on late 19th- to early 20th-century art and holds three special exhibitions a year in addition to the permanent collection of 19th-century art. It is open from 10am to 6pm, on regular days but stays open until 8pm on the Monday to Friday of the final week of exhibitions. It is closed on Mondays and admission varies depending on the exhibit.
A 5-minute walk from Tokyo Station Marunouchi South Exit
3. Streets, skyscrapers and shops
Tokyo Station has an amazing combination of modern glass-covered buildings and old-fashioned red brick buildings, many of which are filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. If you want to get a feel of modern Tokyo, this is a great place to start. Some of the best buildings include Marunouchi Brick Square for specialty shops and boutiques, Oazo for its 4-floor bookshop with a large international section, Tokia for trendy bars with a good atmosphere, Kitte for its rooftop garden and the Marunouchi Building for amazing views of the city. If you head towards Yurakucho Station to the south of Tokyo Station, you will find plenty of alleyway yokocho beneath the train tracks and bridges too.
4. Character Street
For all things character based, there is only one place to go in Tokyo, and luckily it’s right here. With Pokemon, Rilakkuma, Ghibli and some lesser-known but equally as weird/cute options, you can do some great souvenir and gift shopping, as well as just looking around in wonder. Nearby there are sweets and omiyage shops too, so you can really stock up if you need to.
Towards the Yaesu Underground Central Exit of the Station, B1
5. Nakadori Avenue
This quiet, pretty, tree-lined street is home to modern office buildings, trendy shops and winter illuminations as well as modern art installations. Whether you prefer to gaze at the luxury stores with their bright lights and beautiful displays or find the unique creations of international artists along the way, this is a lovely city stroll. In the evening you get that Tokyo feel of neon lights and skyscrapers, in the day it’s a bright and airy escape from the crowded station. Illuminations take place from December until mid-February.
1 minute by foot from Tokyo Station
6. The Imperial Palace
Now, we can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, especially when the room is Tokyo and the elephant is the Imperial Palace. Just over on the west side of the station lies the palace and the surrounding gardens, perfect for a stroll to blow away the cobwebs after a long journey. The palace is usually closed (aside from the 2nd of Jan and 23rd of Dec), but you can always explore the East Gardens which are the sites of the Edo castle’s inner and outer defense circles. There is a stunning Ninomaru Japanese garden and free bike rental on Sundays!
10-to-15-minute walk from Tokyo Station
7. Tokyo Station Gallery
Established in 1988 and housed within the original redbrick walls of the 1914 station building, the gallery aims to bring art and culture to travelers. Closed in 2006 for refurbishments, it finally reopened in 2012 and holds around 5 exhibitions each year along with an educational program. There are short breaks between the exhibitions where the gallery is closed so be sure to check their page here to see if it is open. The Next Exhibition is of ‘Parody and Intersexuality: Visual Culture in Japan in the 1970s’ running from mid-February to mid-April. The following exhibition will feature the works of Adolf Wölfli—a Swiss artist. There is a gallery shop but it is only accessible to those who enter the gallery.
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm (Last Entry 5.30pm)
Located within the station building
8. The Sony Building
Filled with restaurants, shops and showrooms, the Sony Building lets you try out all the top gadgets and devices for free. There are exhibitions of the newest technological advances in the Sony Innovation Lounge on the 5th floor, as well as the hands-on exhibits of the showrooms on floors 1-4. The Tax Free shop has overseas models which you can try before you buy along with the regular Sony Shop. In Opus the Sound Planetarium uses the Megastar-II super projector to offer immersive movie experiences with topics from the sky to the sea. The show changes throughout the year but is always free and is screened at regular intervals between 11am an 7pm.
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm
15-minute walk / 4 minutes on the Marunouchi Line to Ginza
Recommended Tokyo Accommodation
9. The Tokyo International Forum
One of the city’s best architectural designs, the International Forum is a convention and performing arts center with restaurants and shops to explore. It is home to the Mitsuo Aida Museum as well as having various modern art installations throughout the building by artists including Andy Warhol, Peter Halley and Yasuto Asuhina, so if you fancy exploring impressive modern architecture to find art with a coffee, this is a great spot. There are a wide range of events including exhibitions but also markets such as the Oedo Antique Market; the biggest of its kind in Tokyo. You can check their calendar here to see what’s on!
5-minute walk from Tokyo Station, connected by the B1 concourse near Keio Line.
10. Earn your modern art
If you don’t mind a bit of a stroll or if you’re already planning on visiting the Imperial Gardens, then the National Museum of Modern Art (MOMAT) isn’t far away at all. MOMAT is one of the top spaces for modern Japanese art and is also home to the Crafts Gallery and the National Film Center, so there is certainly plenty to do! There are a great variety of exhibitions and offers free entry on the first Sunday of every month. It is only 430 yen for standard admission to the collection though, with prices for special exhibitions varying.
About a 20-minute walk from Tokyo Station