The Complete Guide to Ikebukuro Station
Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s three major sub-centers and the central hub of the northern Yamanote Line. Thus, the gigantic Ikebukuro Station acts as an important hub that connects 2.62 million passengers on average each day (as of 2015, with 4 railway companies combined) - this makes Ikebukuro Station the third-largest station in the world.
Ikebukuro has a lot to offer in terms of amusement and sightseeing, so knowing the station, its exits, and its lines are crucial for both tourists and Tokyoites. We compiled a complete guide to Ikebukuro Station that will ensure that you won’t get lost!
1) 7 Key Points of Ikebukuro Station to Remember
――The Structure of Ikebukuro Station
1) Seibu is on the East Exit side, while Tobu lies on the West Exit side.
Adjacent to Ikebukuro Station are two major department stores: the Seibu Department Store on the station’s east side, and the Tobu Department store on the station’s west side.
2) Marunouchi and Fukutoshin Lines are at Central Passage, the Yurakucho Line is south.
The ticket gates leading to the three Tokyo Metro lines can be found in the passage that connects the East and the West Exit. The Marunouchi Line’s ticket gates are in the eastern approach of the Central Passage, while the Fukutoshin Line’s gates are in the west. Access to the Yurakucho Line is possible via the ticket gates in the South Passage.
3) Reach both the East and West Exit from any ticket gate!
There are three passages that connect the East to the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station, so you can either go right or left from the ticket gate you left. Keep in mind, however, that the JR Metropolitan ticket gate leads to the West Exit only, and the Seibu Line’s southern ticket gate is a tad far from both East and West Exit.
4) Passageways offer easy access to and from the station premises
Ikebukuro Station has three main connecting passages and those that link the north to the south. The passages that connect the North Passage to the Central Passage from the east side are called Cherry Road and Apple Road, while Azalea Road and Orange Road link the Central Passage to the South Passage from the east side.
――About the Exits
5) Don’t confuse “Seibu East Exit” with JR’s “East Exit”
Ikebukuro Station has two exits on its east side: the Seibu East Exit and the East Exit. The Seibu East Exit is on the east side of the Central Passage and you have to go up some stairs to reach it. If you’re coming from the Seibu Line and the Tobu-Tojo Line, it is right in front their respective central ticket gates.
JR’s East Exit, on the other hand, is on the east side of the North Passage, leading up a staircase as well. Access the East Exit from the northern ticket gate of JR and Tobu-Tojo Lines – simply look for the sign that says “JR Ikebukuro east Exit.” A lot of people confuse these two exits, so keep this in mind!
6) There is a South Exit on the east and west side
Ikebukuro Station also has two south Exits. Follow the South Passage from the West exit side and go up some stairs to reach the west side’s South Exit. It is close to the Seibu Line’s south ticket gates, and from the outside, it is marked as “Tobu Ikebukuro Station South Exit.”
The Seibu South Exit, on the other hand, can be found a bit south from the East Exit.
7) JR's ticket gates are all in the basement, except for the Metropolitan ticket gate
The stairs on the JR platforms descend to Ikebukuro Station's basement level, where several ticket gates are located: the north ticket gate, the central 1 ticket gate, the central 2 ticket gate, and the south ticket gate. The only way upstairs is at the southern end of the platforms and leads to the only exit that is above ground: the Metropolitan ticket gate that leads towards the West Exit. Keep in mind that it is impossible to go to the East Exit from there.
2）The Structure of Ikebukuro Station
・In the center is the JR platforms and ticket gates. East of them (near the East Exit) are the Seibu platforms and ticket gates and the Seibu Department Store. To the west are the Tobu-Tojo platforms and ticket gates, and the Tobu Department Store.
・The station facilities are generally located on the first basement level. To get to the ground level, go either east or west and use the stairs leading up.
・The ticket gates of the three main railway companies JR, Seibu, and Tobu are connected by three main passageways: North, Central, and South. Their respective platforms also have ticket gates leading in those directions. (Only Seibu does not have a ticket gate connecting to the North Passage.)
・The ticket gates of the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line are on the east side of the Central Passage (to the east of JR central ticket 1 and 2), and near the center.
・The ticket gates of the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line are on the west side of the Central Passage, via Echika Ikebukuro.
・The ticket gates of the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line are on the east side of the South Passage (near the JR southern ticket gates), and on the west side (near the Metropolitan Plaza Underground Exit)
■Ikebukuro Station layout ↓■
3) The Main Lines of Ikebukuro Station and Their Destinations
Ikebukuro Station is served by four railway companies in total. Next to the JR lines, there is also the Seibu Ikebukuro Line of Seibu Railways, the Tobu-Tojo Line of Tobu Railways, and the Marunouchi Line, Fukutoshin Line, and Yurakucho Line of Tokyo Metro.
Especially JR’s Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi Line offer convenient access to various sightseeing spots, while the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and the Tobu-Tojo Line will carry you to Saitama and Tokyo’s north.
■The platforms of the four companies serving Ikebukuro Station ↓■
~JR East・Seibu Railway~
~Tobu Railway・Tokyo Metro~
4) What’s Around Ikebukuro Station’s East Exit?
The Ikebukuro Station East Exit area is a busy place home to large electronic stores, restaurants, izakaya, and all sorts of other leisure and entertainment facilities. The street right in front of the station furthermore leads to Sunshine City, a massive complex that doesn’t only house numerous shops, but also an aquarium, an observatory, a theater, a hotel, restaurants, and more.
■East Exit Levels / Passageways / Main Destinations↓■
5) What’s Around Ikebukuro Station’s West Exit?
The atmosphere of Ikebukuro Station’s West Exit is entirely different from its south and north side. The south is quiet and calm, home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, a park, and the Rikyo University. The north, on the other hand, is called Ikebukuro Chinatown and boasts a large number of Chinese shops and restaurants with a fun and lively atmosphere.
■West Exit Levels / Passageways / Main Destinations↓■
6) Exits and Directions of the Ikebukuro Station East Exit
The main exits around Ikebukuro Station’s East Exits are, from north to south: East Exit, Seibu East Exit, Seibu Exit.
■Towards East Exit
1: Pass JR’s north ticket gates (1), or exit via the Tobu north ticket gates, and turn right.
2: Continue through the North Passage (2) towards the east.
3: Pass by the Ikefukuro Statue that looks like an owl (3), and ascend the stairs.
4: Continue to the East Exit on the ground level (4). A statue called the Mother and Child serves as a point of orientation!
■Towards Seibu East Exit
1: Leave via the JR central 1 ticket gates (1) and turn right. If you exit the central 2 ticket gates, head left instead. It’s the same for the Tobu lines – right if you use the central 1 ticket gates, left for central 2.
2: Pass the Marunouchi ticket gates in the Central Passage (3) and go up the stairs.
4: You will arrive at the Seibu East Exit, marked by the sign “Seibu Ikebukuro Station East Exit.”
■Towards Seibu Exit
1: Head left if you exit via the JR south ticket gates (1).
2: Follow the South Passage towards east. Pass the east ticket gates of the Yurakucho Line (2).
3: You will arrive at the Seibu Department Store. At its entrance along the South Passage, you can see the “Light Clock” (3).
4: If you go up the stairs without entering the department store, you’ll find yourself in front of the Seibu Exit (4).
※If you come from a Tobu line, exit via the south ticket gate, descend to the first basement level, and follow the South Passage towards east. Then go up the stairs again.
7) Exits and Directions of Ikebukuro Station West Exit
The exits on the west side of Ikebukuro Station are, from the north, the North Exit, the West Exit, the South Exit, and the Metropolitan Exit.
■Towards North Exit
1: If you arrive via JR lines, descend the stairs at the northern end of the platforms (1). In case of Tobu lines, go towards the north ticket gate by descending the stairs on the north side of the platforms.
2: Turn left after passing the JR north ticket gates (2).
3: For Tobu lines, also turn left behind the north ticket gates. (3)
4: Go up the stairs on the right side at the end of the North Passage and you will arrive at the North Exit (4).
■Towards West Exit
1: If you arrive via JR or Tobu lines, descend the stairs (1) on the respective platforms to the first basement level.
2: Turn left after passing through the central 1 ticket gate (1, depicts JR), or right if you pass through the central 2 ticket gate.
3: Follow the Central Passage westwards (in the direction of the Tobu Department Store; 3). Ascend the stairs in the center of the passage (Exit 19).
4: You’ll arrive at the West Entrance, the main entrance of that side of Ikebukuro Station. It is marked by a sign saying “Tobu Ikebukuro Station West Entrance” (4).
※If you arrive via Seibu lines, exit via the ticket gate on the first basement level and turn left to follow the Central passage westwards. Then ascend the stairs of Exit 19.
■Towards South Exit
1: As for the JR lines, head down the stairs at the southern end of the platform, pass through the south ticket gate (1) and turn right.
2: Follow the South Passage westward. After passing the Yurakucho line’s ticket gates, you will arrive at the basement floor of the Metropolitan Plaza (1).
3: If you arrive with a Tobu line, pass the south ticket gate (3) at the southern end of the platforms and head right towards the South Exit (4).
※For the Seibu lines, exit via the B1 ticket gate, and follow the South Passage westward.
■Towards Metropolitan Exit
1: Go up the stairs at the southern end of the JR platforms (1) and head right.
2: Continue on the right and pass through the Metropolitan Exit ticket gates (2).
3: You will find yourself in front of Lumine Ikebukuro (3). Follow the passage that goes to the right.
4: If you descend via the escalator, you’ll reach the first floor of the Metropolitan Plaza.
※The Metropolitan Exit and the South Exit lead to the same location.
8) Transfers from Ikebukuro Station: Visit Kawagoe, Chichibu, and Iruma!
Kawagoe is a city in the southwestern part of Saitama Prefecture and is known for its beautiful historic streets, warehouses, and shrines – for this reason, it boasts the nickname of “Little Edo.” This beautiful sightseeing spot can best be visited via the Tobu-Tojo Line from Ikebukuro station – the express train will get you to Kawagoe in 32 minutes and for a mere 470 yen.
Chichibu is a scenic town in the west of Saitama, famous for its stunning cherry trees and lush nature. To get there from Ikebukuro Station, take the Seibu Ikebukuro Line to Hanno Station, and transfer to the Seibu Chichibu Line. From there, the Seibu Chichibu Station is about 1 hour and 50 minutes away. Riding the limited express train called Red Arrow is also highly recommended, as it takes you straight to Seibu Chichibu Station from Ikebukuro Station in 1 hour and 22 minutes, without transfer (a ticket costs 1,480 yen, tax included).
Also located in Saitama, Iruma is famous for mainly two things: the Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma, a large factory outlet with around 210 shops, and Johnson Town, a little neighborhood that looks like 1950s America. With the Seibu Ikebukuro express train, it’ll take about 50 minutes and 440 yen to get to Iruma. (The Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma is another 15-minute bus ride via Seibu Bus away from Iruma Station.)
You can also use the Red Arrow express train from Ikebukuro Station. Board it via the special platform next to platform 7. We recommend entering through the ticket gates on the ground floor, close to Ikebukuro Station’s Seibu East Exit or Seibu Exit.
Top image credit: Ned Snowman / Shutterstock.com
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