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One of the largest train stations in Japan, Tokyo Station is used by many people everyday. As a transit hub with a dense network of local and bullet train lines, most travelers would pass through at least once during their stay in eastern Japan. Additionally, the station is also the zero mile marker for many train lines.

Tokyo Station was originally constructed in 1914 and quickly became an important station that connected the city to the rest of Japan. There are two sides to the station, the Marunouchi side facing west towards the Marunouchi and Otemachi districts and the Imperial Palace, and the Yaesu side, facing the Yaesu district in the east. The former has recently been restored to its former, historic beauty, while the latter offers a modern and contemporary look.

Bullet train (shinkansen) at Tokyo Station
Large panels showing shinkansen information
Tokyo Station is a stop on the Yamanote Line

With its multiple levels and labyrinth of shopping and dining streets, Tokyo Station can be quite confusing to travelers. However, it is a great place to spend a day and to make things easier, we have compiled a list of things to know about Tokyo Station.

  1. JAPAN RAIL CAFE
  2. ecbo cloak service
  3. Tokyo Station Marunouchi Main Building
  4. Tokyo Station Gallery
  5. Dining and Shopping
  6. The Tokyo Station Hotel
  7. Nearby spots in the vicinity

1) JAPAN RAIL CAFE

Newly opened on March 5, 2020, the JAPAN RAIL CAFE was the first of its kind to open in Japan. It is located right by the Yaesu Central Gate of Tokyo Station, and consists of a travel counter that offers visitors a host of travel information and ticketing information and a restaurant.

The travel counter side has manned counters for travel information and ticket purchases. A variety of rail passes can be bought here as well as exchanging of the JAPAN RAIL PASS. A large interactive screen displays travel videos and information, and visitors can connect their smart phones to the cursor on the screen to find out more about the spots displayed.

In the restaurant side of the JAPAN RAIL CAFE, diners can look forward to seasonal and delicacies from all over Japan, and there is a nice variety of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, ensuring something for everyone. Popular and regional lunch boxes (bento) are available to go for those who are short on time. A tatami mat area showcases traditional decoration and makes for a nice place to take commemorative pictures.

In addition to the JAPAN RAIL PASS and general ticketing services, also available at the JAPAN RAIL CAFE is the Welcome Suica, a rechargable IC card. This card allows for contactless payment on the train and bus network as well as at shops where IC payments are accepted and some vending machines. The regular Suica IC card requires an additional deposit of 500 yen for the cost of the card, while the Welcome Suica card does away with the deposit and the charge amount starts from 1000 yen. However, note that the Welcome Suica is only valid for 28 days after purchase.

Travel counter with a large screen showing travel videos and tourist information
Tatami mat area with traditional decorations
Takeaway bento, and a Pocket Change machine on the far left that changes any currency to e-money
A sample of the food and drink at the cafe

2) ecbo cloak service

In a busy station like Tokyo Station, finding an empty coin locker can be like finding a needle in a haystack. ecbo cloak is a useful a prepaid luggage keeping service that requires a reservation, which can be done on the official website. There are multiple ecbo cloak counters in Tokyo Station. Since the reservation has to be made and paid for in advance, all one has to do is to go to the counter and drop off your baggage for a hands-free day out. It is also worth noting that the ecbo cloak service allows for multi-day use, which may be convenient for those planning short side trips.

In addition to ecbo cloak, delivery services are also available both inside the ticketed and the free-to-access areas. Visitors moving on towards other parts of Japan can consider using delivery services to forward their baggage to their next destination.

ecbo cloak service available at multiple spots in Tokyo Station

3) Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building

The Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building on the west side of Tokyo Station is a nationally important cultural property. The original building was designed by illustrious Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo, built out of brick and completed in 1914. The Marunouchi Building was Tokyo Station's only exit when the station first opened over a century ago, and the Yaesu exit was only added 15 years after.

The brick building suffered extensive damage during World War II and a simplified version of the building was rebuilt after the war. It took five years, from 2007-2012, to restore the Marunouchi Building to its pre-war magnificence, and another five years to beautify the plaza in front of it. Today, visitors can see how the Marunouchi Building looked like when it was first built in 1914, complete with the domes at the northern and southern ends respectively.

Exterior of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building

4) Tokyo Station Gallery

The Tokyo Station Gallery is an art museum located in the northern dome section of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building. The three-story gallery holds temporary exhibitions and what is more, visitors can also see the original brickwork and internal structural design of Tokyo Station from the second floor down. It is not very often that one gets to see such cultural heritage alongside works of art in Japan!

The entrance to the Tokyo Station Gallery is right beside the the Marunouchi North Exit
Looking down the octagonal spiral stairs in the gallery
Original bricks of Tokyo Station

5) Dining and Shopping

Travelers are spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping and dining in Tokyo Station. There are lots of restaurants and shops both inside the ticketed and the free-to-enter areas of the station, and below are some of the main ones of note.

Within the ticketed area are GRANSTA, which runs east-west in the basement floor of the station, and ecute on the first floor in the middle of the station. Both areas offer ready-to-eat meals, snacks and desserts, and are very popular places to purchase souvenirs before heading home. Located in the free-to-enter area is Kitchen Street, a restaurant zone located on the first floor of the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station. The place is a convenient choice for travelers as well as office workers from the nearby office towers.

Vegan, vegetarian or travelers who prefer a plant-based diet will be pleased to know that there is one vegan restaurant and some plant-based food souvenirs available at Tokyo Station.

Takeaway meals inside GRANSTA
Kitchen Street, which is free to access, at Tokyo Station
Not all just food, but a variety of souvenirs waiting to be purchased
Ekibenya Matsuri, a popular place to buy regional bento meals
Vegan almond caramel souvenirs from the popular Tokyo Banana brand

6) The Tokyo Station Hotel

The Tokyo Station Hotel was established in 1915, a year after Tokyo Station opened, as a luxury hotel catering to distinguished guests visiting the city. Located inside the Marunouchi Building, the stately hotel offers 150 classic European-styled rooms, ten restaurants and bars, and fitness and spa facilities.

Some rooms provide views of the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station, and there are some spaces in the hotel that allow staying guests to look down into the busy station as well as view the restored artwork in the domes up close.

It goes without saying that the in-house service is meticulous, and furthermore, staying guests who arrive by the Narita Express train from Narita Airport or by bullet train can enjoy impeccable door to door porter service.

Entrance to The Tokyo Station Hotel
Just one of the beautiful rooms at The Tokyo Station Hotel
Staying guests can view the gorgeous dome with its decorations up close
Narita Express (N'EX) train service connecting Tokyo and Narita Airport

7) Nearby spots in the vicinity

There are several sightseeing spots a short walk from the Marunouchi side of Tokyo. In its immediate vicinity are the three skyscrapers: Shin-Marunouchi Building, Marunouchi Building and Japan Post Tower KITTE. These three buildings offer one a varied shopping and dining experience, and their terraces provide nice views of the red brick facade of Tokyo Station.

Farther away, the Imperial Palace and Imperial Palace East Garden, which are located on the former grounds of the Edo Castle, are well visited sightseeing spots. The garden is free to enter, while a tour of the Imperial Palace requires advance reservation. The perimeter of the Imperial Palace is also a popular running circuit - one round is about five kilometers - and it is common to see runners making their rounds.

These seven points were by no means an exhaustive list of things to see and do around Tokyo Station. Instead, it was a list aimed at introducing visitors to some of the interesting things that can enhance their visit to the station and surrounding area.

Looking at the Imperial Palace grounds
Mix of traditional and modern near Tokyo Station