Wanderlust Japan > Sightseeing > One Ring to Rule Them All – Yamanote Line

One Ring to Rule Them All – Yamanote Line

The Yamanote Line is a tourist’s best friend, claims my mother. She would ride around it with my dad when they came to visit me.

Having a train line that literally is a giant circle is extremely useful. It is a fail-proof way to ensure that there is no “wrong direction” you end up on.




Major Hubs:


Shinjuku: Shinjuku and I go waaaay back. It is a large labyrinth of a station that has multiples exits and never wants to let people meet each other again.Luckily I think I have mastered it.


What is there?


Kabuki-cho: Infamous red-light district of Tokyo. It has sleazy entertainment for everyone with money to spend. Some of the streets around the area have some good places to dine.


Shinjuku Golden Gai is a street lined with tiny bars, and is a popular night spot in Kabuchi-cho


Ni-chome: Famously gay club/bar district east of the station. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I haven’t been…


Shinjuku Gyoen: A park near the station that is actually quite lovely and was the location for the animated film “Garden of Words”




Shopping: Shinjuku has some good shopping. Most major department stores are either attached to the station or east of the station. Check out the Isetan basement for tasty treats. There is also a giant Sekaido (Japanese art supply store) that has floors of supplies, some you can only really get in Japan. For someone like me, who draws manga traditionally, it is a necessity.


Shibuya: Welcome to Japan. This is probably what you thought of when you thought of Tokyo.


 What is there?


Young people, young people that are cooler than you and dress better (or more insane) than you do.


Spain Slope – Clothes shopping on a confused, winding street.


Shibuya 109 – Where all the cool people buy clothing, or so I am told. Cool people = Japanese girls between the ages of 14-28.


THE CROSSWALK. You know the one. It’s the Lost in Translation one.



Love hotels, there are many of them here.


Hikarie – A super new complex with theaters and exhibitions.


Shinagawa: Southern part of the circle and the entrance to Kanagawa Prefecture.


What is there?


Shinkansen. One of 2 stops in Tokyo (city).


Hotels, nice ones. It is also a convenient location for Haneda Airport.


Hara Museum of Contemporary Art – One of the top contemporary art museums in Japan


Shinagawa Aquarium – A large aquarium. Probably good if you love fish or have small children who are sick of seeing typical Japan tourist spots.



Tokyo: Yes, there is a Tokyo (station), Tokyo (city), Tokyo (prefecture).


What is there?


The Shinkansen. This is a major, major hub. You can go in all directions from Tokyo.


Many office buildings


The Imperial PalaceIt is a popular jogging spot and the gardens are nice in the spring.


Tokyo Station City – The entire station has been completely revamped. The facade on the western side has been completely restored. It houses a hotel, dozens of restaurants and shops. There is even a whole section devoted to Tokyo ramen.



Ueno: There are pandas, and if you come during cherry blossom season; there will also be many drunk people.


What is there?


Ueno Park – A nice, large park that you can stroll through. All the different national museums are here, as well as a temple, a shrine, and a zoo. It is a very popular spot for hanami season (cherry blossom viewing party-season).


Ueno Zoo – It’s a pretty good zoo, but feels a bit small.


Ameyoko-cho – Famous shopping street south of the station. There are some good restaurants around the area as well.


Kappabashi Street– If you don’t mind walking about 20 minutes from Ueno, you can get to Kappabashi Street. This street is famous for being the main emporium for restaurants in Tokyo. The most famous element being the fake plastic food models. You can purchase the food here and be amazed by how delicious something completely inedible can look.



IkebukuroThe nerdy sister of Akihabara. Gateway to Saitama Prefecture.


What is there?


Animate Giant anime/manga merchandise store. If you are a fan of this stuff, then this is one of your Meccas.


Otome Road Where girls (maybe some guys) who like anime/manga but ESPECIALLY like the boys (maybe touching other boys) go. Places of note are the old Animate store, butler cafes, and the row of doujinshi shops.


Chinese food – There are a lot of Chinese people in Ikebukuro, so much so, that if you go to the west side of the station, you will come across a mini, mini Chinatown.


Sunshine City Large shopping complex with an aquarium, restaurants, shops, and an observatory tower. Built over the remains of a large prison where Hideki Tojo and other notable WW2 criminals were held. History, yeah!



Worth a Stop


Harajuku – Has Takeshita Dori (shopping street of famously alternative fashion. Lady Gaga shops here when she comes to Japan apparently), Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine, Omotesando (luxury shopping area), Cat Street (cute shopping street with cafes and restaurants that heads down to Shibuya)


Meguro– If you are looking for some Japanese design to decorate your house then it might be worth it to stop by Meguro. There are tons of small cafes and furniture stores. The furniture stores line Meguro Street and have all sorts of items that may interest the interior designer within you.


Hamamatsucho– If you want to take a boat out into Tokyo Harbor there are several that leave from the docks here. Jicoo Floating Bar is one of them.


Yurakucho– Yurakucho Station is surrounded by high-class shopping and restaurants. You can walk to Ginza district from here as well as Tsukiji Market (It might be a 25 minute walk). In Ginza there are many shops that have showrooms and showcases for their merchandise. My friend always tries to stop by the Abercrombie store, not to buy any clothes, but to take pictures with the male models that greet you at the door and to look at the impressive wall murals (that may or may not be a bit homo-erotic). From here you can also walk to the Imperial Palace.


Akihabara– World-famous for being the center of “otaku” culture in Japan.


Shin-Okubo– If you are into K-pop or Korean dramas then you should stop by Shin-Okubo. The station is surrounded by cafes and Korean restaurants. There are also stores filled with Korean idol goods and foods from Korea. It is a veritable “Little Korea.”








March 04  Category:Sightseeing 

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