Tokyo Station offers all the merchandise and food a commuter could need

Travel
Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes
From Stripes.com
Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes

Tokyo Station offers all the merchandise and food a commuter could need

by: Tyler Hlavac | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 17, 2016

Anyone who’s visited Japan knows that train travel — and train stations — are a huge part of daily life.

These stations see hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of passengers throughout the year, and host everything from grocery stores and restaurants to clothing shops and specialty stores. Much more than just temporary stops before your destination, they can be destinations unto themselves.

Although Tokyo Station isn’t the busiest in Japan — nearby Shinjuku Station takes that honor for serving more than a million passengers each year — it might be the grandest.

It’s a bit like the Mall of America. The complex is linked by a plethora of underground passageways that merge with surrounding commercial buildings, so new shopping delights appear around every corner. Several times I had to ask myself, “Am I still in Tokyo Station? Am I lost?”

Want food? It’s got it. From cheap eats like McDonald’s to expensive sushi options. Want ramen? Tokyo Station’s got you covered with its famous underground Ramen Street filled with several tiny joints that draw long lines of customers.

Need clothes or souvenirs for friends back home? Look no further. Tokyo Station’s clothing district offers everything anyone would ever need to complete a wardrobe. Shoe stores and suit shops line the halls, including trendy and top-of-the-line options. Brands include Arrow, New Yorker Blue, Lois Crayon, Regal Shoes and Tokyo Shirts Collection.

Department stores also abound, and one called Daimaru Tokyo sells high-end Kit Kat bars showcased under glass with interesting flavors such as wasabi, green tea and strawberry shortcake.

I marveled at the ease of being able to stop and purchase groceries on the way home, before noticing both a spa and a dentist’s office as well. All of these conveniences had me wondering if I’d ever need to visit the above-ground world again.

And Tokyo Station has tourist offerings locked down. Character shops display icons like Snoopy and Japan’s Anpanman alongside Pikachu at a Pokemon store. Hardcore fans flocked to an anime shop to check out Dragon Ball Z merchandise and the latest manga, while kids cruised a candy shop, Lego store and other toy retailers.

Toy alley, candy alley, clothing alley, restaurant alley — you name it and it’s probably available at Tokyo Station.

If you do venture above-ground, you’ll be able to admire the station’s beautiful red-brick exterior on the Marunouchi side. Built in 1914, the station endured the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and bombing damage during World War II. The station has survived all this and thrived.

Home to several shinkansen, or bullet trains, Tokyo Station is also a departure and arrival point for Japanese cities as far away as Hokkaido.

The surrounding area is luxurious, with wide and elegant sidewalks and high-end stores and restaurants. I visited the nearby Kitte building, a seven-floor shopping center connected directly to the station. Kitte also has numerous shops and even a free museum with rotating exhibits.

Whether it be clothing, food, entertainment or arts and culture, Tokyo Station offers everything the modern-day urban commuter could ever need.

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com

Tokyo Station

DIRECTIONS

Tokyo Station can be reached by many Tokyo train services, including the Chuo Line, which connects to the Ome line near Yokota Air Base, the Yokosuka Line and several bullet trains.

TIMES

Open 24 hours.

COSTS

It’s free to access the station.

FOOD

Everything from affordable fast-food burgers to pricey sushi options.

INFORMATION

www.jreast.co.jp/e/stations/e1039.html

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