Category Archives: Shinjuku & Ikebukuro

Tokyo Toy Museum, Shinjuku-Yotsuya

DSC09030This is a good outing for all ages, but particularly good for kids under 9 years of age. It’s also great for those days you find yourself in Downtown Tokyo, you’re staying at the New Sanno, or you need something to do on a rainy cold day. The museum is located inside an old elementary school and consists of three floors. Each room within the building is dedicated to a different type of play and learning. Some of the attractions include a toy workshop in which you can make your own toy/craft, a wooden toy room, and a room dedicated to the all-time classic toys.

DSC09025Strollers aren’t ideal within the museum, but can be left outside the gymnasium. There is also a small playground outside for nice weather. Take footwear that is easy to slip on and off, if possible, as a couple rooms do not allow shoes. There are no restaurants within the museum. We took snacks and ate outside. However, there are a variety of restaurants back towards Yotsuya-3-chrome station.

IMG_3012The Museum is open from 10:00 – 16:00 all days (last entry is 15:30), but closed on Thursdays. Admission is ¥700 for adults, ¥500 for kids over 2, and free for kids under 2. A parent and child combo ticket is ¥1000 (for a child over 2 years old). For more information, please go to http://www.goodtoy.org/ttm/ (you made need to use a translator). If you finish early at the Tokyo Toy Museum, the Tokyo Fire Museum is another attraction that can be visited near Yotsuya Sanchrome Station, and it’s free! Linda Bell, October 2014.

DIRECTIONS: The GPS coordinates for the toy museum are N35.68951, E139.71805. By train, take Exit 2 at Yotsuya Sanchrome Station, on the Maronuchi Line. The Museum is a 5 minute walk from the station. It’s quite difficult to find as it’s down a mainly residential street. Look for the red flags with yellow writing, TTM (Tokyo Toy Museum) on the right hand side. Parking is not advised, according to the website.

Tokyo Fire Museum

firemuseumtokyo1The Tokyo Fire Museum, located in Shinjuku, is fun and free.  We took our four-year-old son on a weekday with visiting relatives and practically had the place to ourselves. He really enjoyed trying on the costumes and playing in the firetrucks and rooftop helicopter. I enjoyed the museum itself, as it’s one of the few museums in Japan that I have been to that has information in English.  Stars & Stripes ran an excellent article on the museum titled: Red-hot destination: Tokyo Fire Museum.  Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays.

DIRECTIONS:  Located at Yotsuya -Sanchome Station, Exit #2.   - Emily Gyimah, February 2014.

tokyofiremuseum2

 

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at Shinjuku

From the two observatories in the TMG building near Shinjuku Station you can see an amazing 360 degree view of Tokyo and it is free.  Look at a map when you get off the train at Shinjuku to locate the TMG building – it  is about four long blocks away.  Once you are near the building, signs will direct you toward the elevators and there is staff at the bottom and top to assist.  Depending on when you go there may be a line.  My husband and I went after sunset to the North Observatory.  There are windows all the way around, a little store, and a bar at the top.  After walking around to enjoy the view from each window we had a beer at the bar.  The bar faces windows that overlook both Tokyo Tower and Skytree. Very romantic!  The walk to and from the TMG building from Shinjuku Station is also fun at night.   North Observatory hours: 9:30pm -10:30pm.  South Observatory hours: 9:30-5:30pm.  Every Monday one or the other observatory is closed.  They are both closed from Dec 29th through Jan 3rd.  There is a cafe in the South Observatory and a Cafe plus bar in the North Observatory.  - Sarah Straus, December 2013.

Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City

Photo by Jason Tsay

Sixty stories tall, Sunshine City is a mall, a science center, a museum, a theme park – in short, an amazing indoor world.
 When you enter the building on the B1 level, you traverse a long hall with a “people mover” escalator to the main entrance. There is an information desk with computers where you can get directions printed for places in the complex. Or, you can just wander through and follow the color-coded lines on the floors. The red lines lead to the World Import Mart, the aquarium and planetarium. The blue lines lead to the Ancient Orient Museum and Sunshine Theater. The orange lines lead you to Shopping Center Alpa.
You can make a circle tour of the Bl level as there are two main corridors the length of this level. When you are facing the information desk, if you take the entrance to the left, you will come to a beautiful fountain which has a show of dancing water accompanied by organ music at 1pm, 2:30 and 4pm. The first three levels are mostly department stores. In taking the escalators up, you will find some interesting shops and restaurants on the other floors. 3-1, Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

The big features:
•Sunshine 60 Observatory: Eyes over Tokyo from the 60th floor. It’s a fantastic view on a nice day. 10am-9:30pm. Tel: 03-3989-3457
Adults (high school) ¥ 620
Children (junior high school students) ¥ 460
Child (over age 4) ¥ 310

•Aquarium: Tenth floor, on top of the World Import Mart. There is a seal show, and exhibits of seals, flamingos, penguins, etc. There are many fish not seen in the States as they are only found in this part of the world. Allow at least one hour for the aquarium. 10am-6pm (-8pm in summer.) Tel: 03-3989-3466
Adults (high school) ¥1,800
Children (junior high school students) ¥900
Child (over age 4) ¥600
Interested in aquariums?  Also see Shinagawa Aquarium.

•Konica Minolta Planetarium: 10am-6pm with shows on the hour, http://www.konicaminolta.jp/manten/ Tel::03-3989-3546
Adults (high school) ¥1,000
Children (junior high school students) ¥500
Child (over age 4) ¥400

•Namco Namjatown: An indoor theme park by Namco, a Japanese company that produces video games. Themed dining, carnival-style games, a creepy haunted house and character mascots in the form of giant kittens. There’s an entire gyoza village and a “dessert republic.” 10am-10pm. http://www.namja.jp/img/pdf/guidemap.pdf/
Adults ¥300 (More for games and activities)
Children ¥200

•Tokyu Hands: This store, at the Bl entrance to the Sunshine Building, will delight crafty-minded shoppers. There is something different on every floor and the breadth is astounding, from toys to stationary and leathercraft to hardware. Bonus: There’s a “cat cafe” on the top floor. It’s one of those “only in Japan” things.
DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line to Tachikawa, and change to the Chuo Line. At Shinjuku, transfer to the green Yamanote Line in the direction of Shin-Okubo and get off at the fourth stop, Ikebukuro. Head for the east exit towards Seibu Department Store. You will see signs for Tokyu Hands also.
Coming out of the station, look for the tallest building (sometimes the top is hidden in the mist) and walk towards it. This will be Sunshine City. It will be in front of you as you come out of the station. You will have to go right a little bit to pick up the tree-lined street to the building.

Our Story: My family and I took the train to Sunshine City during winter break 2011.  Ikebukuru Station is pretty large and we ended up asking someone to help us find the correct exit for Sunshine City.  The mall is down a store lined street which was closed to traffic the day we went.  With small kids we didn’t do much shopping, but headed straight to the 3rd floor devoted to restaurants.  We found a nice Japanese place to eat, but also noticed Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and French restaurants.  We also went to the Aquarium on floor 10.  It was larger than expected.  It was pretty crowded, but I think that was because of the holiday season.  The kids enjoyed all the giant aquariums.    Sarah Straus, 2011