101 things to do in Tokyo along the Seibu lines

Ride the yellow train around town and all the way up to 'little Edo'

Explore 'little Edo' with our guide to the Seibu lines

Running from Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stations through Tokyo's western suburbs and all the way up to Kawagoe and Chichibu in Saitama, the Seibu train lines are great for exploring some of the city's less trendy 'hoods, filled with age-old public baths, run-down shopping arcades and quirky parks, not to mention rowdy izakayas, ethnic eateries and box-sized cafés. 

Our complete guide to fun along the Seibu lines takes you from the heart of Tokyo all the way to the historic town of Kawagoe, which features one of the few remaining Edo-period streetscapes, and scenic Chichibu, where you can do things like spend a night in a temple and go river rafting in a traditional wooden boat. Check out our picks below and start exploring – and consider also reading up on 'Aranumano', one of the most interesting areas along the yellow train's tracks.

1

Snack on a superb sandwich...

It isn't easy to find, but this European-style bakery and café is worth looking for. If you'd like to try before you buy, order the bread set: four varieties served with salad and a drink, making for a fun tasting experience. Parlour Ekoda

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Ekoda
2

Shop at an old-school market...

A couple of narrow streets host this collection of shops selling fresh produce, sushi, meat and clothing much in the same way as they have been for decades, retaining an authentic downtown vibe. Ekoda Market

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Ekoda
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3

Grab a raspberry twist...

Since this bakery opened in 2014, its pastries have inspired long queues, with their croissants, Danish bread and curry rolls selling out long before closing time. Their raspberry Danish is sure to put a smile on your face. Nogata Bread Factory

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Nogata
4

'Mountain climb' in a city park...

This city park is divided into two areas; the lively Okubo section and the quieter Hakoneyama part, which features the tallest 'mountain' inside the Yamanote line loop. The 44.6m-high hill is especially popular in cherry blossom season. Toyama Park

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Waseda
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5

Nibble on rice crackers with a flavour twist...

This is an old-school senbei (rice cracker) shop that's been around since 1933 and is trying to keep up with the times by developing new flavour combinations, for example, a thin cracker wrapped in soft nori seaweed or paired with a combo of nori and cheese. Kintoki Senbei

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Nogata
6

Bump up your beauty kit...

Head to the Seibu Ikebukuro main store for their impressive new cosmetics counter. Be sure to take advantage of the tax refund service that's available for foreign shoppers. Cosmeannex

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Ikebukuro
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7

Step back in time with classical coffee...

Never mind the location (right above a Seven-Eleven) – you’ll forget you’re in Tokyo as soon as you enter this speciality coffee shop, run by a fellow who looks like he could just as well be serving his masterful drip brews in 18th-century Vienna. Café Très Bon

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Ekoda
8

Fall for Vietnam's fave sandwich...

Choose from six varieties of specialty bánh mì – roast beef, pork, chicken, Vietnamese ham and liver paste or prawn and avocado. The bread is crunchy and the pickled vegetables round it off perfectly. Bánh mì Sandwich

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Takadanobaba
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9

Feel inspired again...

Since its 25th annivesary five years ago, Nerima Ward's art museum has been surprising art fans with unique exhibits. See how many quirky animal statues you can spot in the garden. Nerima Art Museum

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Nerima
10

Have a sake day...

Domestic firewater from nihonshu and shochu to umeshu and Okinawa's awamori lines the shelves at this liquor store that offers a vast selection of 'one-cup' sake. Shipping service is available for gifts. Ajinomachidaya

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Araiyakushi-mae
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25

Feast on falafel...

This Israeli restaurant offers one of the best dinner deals in Tokyo. Shamaim's all-you-can-eat course gets you a spread of hummus, falafel, schnitzel, chicken shishlik kebab, pita bread, soup and a variety of small dishes. Shamaim

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Ekoda
26

Dine at a neighbourhood classic...

This busy eatery has been feeding hungry Nogatans since 1936. Locals often stop by just for a beer, but we recommend filling up on the 'A Set', consisting of fried chicken, ginger pork, miso soup, rice and pickles. Nogata Shokudo

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Nogata
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27

Put the 'sweet' in sweet potato...

Dealing in elaborate homemade sweets, this shop is packed to the rafters with cakes and cookies, but their most popular product is the King potato, a muffin-like creation made with sweet potatoes. Avignon

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Numabukuro
28

Combine ramen and reggae...

You'll be greeted by Jamacan flags, reggae paraphernalia and Bob Marley tunes at Yahman, which serves additive-free ramen (or rahmen, as they call it) and tsukemen. Yahman

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Ekoda
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29

Experiment with rock...

A music lounge focusing mainly on progressive rock and other experimental music. Live performances are held almost every night, drawing rock enthusiasts even from overseas. Cafe Flying Teapot

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Ekoda
30

Stock up on rare fruit 24/7...

Craving starfruit at 3am? A greengrocer's that stays open around the clock, this shop sells a variety of rare fruits and veg at bargain prices, and is surrounded by an international bunch of retailers dealing in exotic spices and the like. Shinjuku Yaoya

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Okubo
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31

Work off the calories...

The bouldering gym offers a comfy setting from the changing rooms to the climbing walls. Choose from beginner, late-night and women-only lessons. Gravity Takadanobaba

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Takadanobaba
32

Feel like a backpakcer in Asia...

At this warren of Asian restaurants on the roof of an ageing Kabukicho tower block, diners are free to sit at one shop and order food from neighbouring eateries. The free-for-all atmosphere lends itself well to a rowdy night of drinking. Shinjuku Asia Yokocho

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Shinjuku
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33

Pig out on, erm, pig's feet...

Offering traditional Burmese food, Nong Inlay serves a delicious Shan Soba lunch special: a bowl of rice noodles in chicken broth, topped with peanuts and sesame seeds. Or you could brave the Mustard Greens and Pig's Feet Soup. Nong Inlay

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Takadanobaba
34

Hide out with jazz and lattes...

Spend a few lazy hours poring over jazz books, magazines or some manga at this sleepy café. Find this hideout on the ground floor of the wood-panelled building next to the Japan Braille Library. Milestone

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Takadanobaba
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49

Gobble up MSG-free ramen...

Customers are continuously drawn to this homely restaurant for its unique-texture ramen, made by an udon producer in Akita Prefecture. Dining Room Shichisai

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Nakano
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51

Order a meal of side dishes...

A yakitori joint by trade, this spot serves up a nice selection of small sides – try the tuna menchikatsu or the popular liver yakitori, which together are almost enough for an entire meal. Torifuji Kitahara-dori

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Nogata
52

Test your Thai mettle...

At this cosy, convival Thai joint, small plates of food start at ¥350 and staples like phad thai sit alongside more curious dishes. This Ekoda branch features northern Thai tastes, while the one near Nerima Station does flavours from the Isan region. Hyotan

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Ekoda
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53

Head out for jazz...

This largish venue is a little out of the way – a few stops from Ikebukuro – but worth the trip. The main focus is jazz, but tango or prog-rock groups are almost as common. Buddy

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Ekoda
54

Try unusual ramen flavours...

Ever tried ramen with a chicken or oyster-based soup? The rich flavours mix very well with the noodles, keeping customers coming back for more at this family-friendly spot. Hanaichi

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Nerima
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55

Soak at an arty sento...

Public baths in Tokyo are famed for their Mt Fuji murals, but at this one you can also enjoy a projection mapping display while you soak in the natural hot spring. An outdoor bath and a sauna are also available. Hisamatsuyu

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Nerima
56

Munch on umami-rich skewers...

Stepping out of Nogata Station, look for a blue noren curtain with the word 'yakiton' on it and you'll find Akimotoya, a down-to-earth izakaya specialising in roast giblets (motsuyaki) and miso-dipped skewers. Akimotoya

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Nogata
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57

Relax in an oasis...

Boasting a huge pond, happy ducks and pretty shrines, this park is famed for featuring unspoilt nature, plenty of birdlife and ruins of Shakujii Castle. Shakujii Park

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Shakujii
58

Sample 100 types of sake...

Kurand Sake Market combines the no-frills atmosphere of a stand bar with a deep passion for Japan's signature spirit. Pay ¥3,240 for unlimited access to around 100 varieties of nihonshu. Also, you can bring your own food. Kurand Sake Market

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Ikebukuro
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72

Imagine you're back in the Edo era...

This wooden bell tower is a symbol of of the area known as Ko-Edo (little Edo), because of its traditional warehouses. Listen out for the bell, which rings four times a day at 6am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. Toki no Kane (Time Bell Tower)

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Saitama
73

Appreciate Edo-style unagi...

Serving one of the most renowned grilled unagi dishes in Japan, this restaurant stays true to the sauce it's been using since it was established in 1807. Ogakiku

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Saitama
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74

Wander into candyland...

Calling all candy fans – this shop offers a range of colourful and interesting treats, including a bento box filled with tiny sweets. Kameya Eisen

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Saitama
75

Brunch Japanese style...

Take a break from eggs benedict and head to this tsukemen shop in Kawagoe for the ultimate Japanese-style brunch. You may have to queue but the addictive fish-based soup and chewy but smooth noodles are good enough reason. Ganja

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Saitama
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76

Top rice balls with bonito flakes...

Allow the fragrant smell of soy sauce to draw you into this bonito fish flakes store, where you can buy chargrilled rice balls topped with abundant bonito and sardine flakes. Nakaichi Honten

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Saitama
77

Stroll around in a kimono...

What better way to explore a little Edo town than dressed in a kimono? Women can rent one here for ¥2,160, while men are charged ¥3,240 (¥1,000 discount if accompanied by a female friend). Vivian

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Saitama
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78

Pray for romance...

Established almost 1,500 years ago and serving as protector of the area since the 1500s, this shrine has recently become popular amongst those hoping to inject a bit of romance into their relationships. Hikawa Shrine

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Saitama
79

Eat an organic bento lunch...

Besides its delicious organic food – be sure to order the bento box lunch and the green tea smoothie – this café offers a rustic atmosphere for relaxed dining. Lightning Café

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Saitama
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80

Bite into baked goodies...

A pretty local bakery near an area with many sweet shops. Customers are drawn in by the delicious aromas, and you can stop for a bite on the terrace. Kawagoe Bakery Rakuraku

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Saitama
81

Meet your arhat doppelganger...

At Kitain temple, you'll find 538 statues representing the disciples of Buddha, known as arhats. They were carved between 1782 and 1825, and no two statues are alike. It's said that if you visit them at night and touch each statue until you find one that is warm, this will be the arhat that most resembles you. 500 Arhats at Kitain Temple

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Saitama
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87

Celebrate with fireworks...

This shrine is one of the three main shrines in Chichibu City, and features several rare sculptures that are popular with visitors. The shrine's night festival, celebrated in December, is a designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. Chichibu Shrine

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Chichibu
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89

Spend the night at a temple...

Visit this Zen temple in the mountains of Chichibu for a retreat complete with first-hand insight into the life of a Buddhist monk. Meditate, try sutra copying, and enjoy tasty vegetarian food. Taiyoji Temple

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Chichibu
90

Park off with city views...

Overlooking the city of Chichibu, this spacious hilltop park is a favourite amongst locals. In late April to early May, it gets covered in a carpet of pretty pink moss flowers. Hitsujiyama Park

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Chichibu
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91

Savour umami-fied meat...

An old-established butcher near Chichibu Shrine. Its miso pickled meats are one of the most popular souvenirs from the area. They're also famous for offering boar meat. Yasudaya

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Chichibu
92

Unwind in the mountains...

Located on top of Mt Mitsumine in Oku-Chichibu, this shrine boasts a colourfully decorated main hall and a pretty hot spring bath. Mitsumine Shrine

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Chichibu
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93

Admire a Michelin-star shrine...

Awarded one star in the 2011 Michelin Green Guide Japan for its beautiful sculptures, this shrine's deities are meant to protect people from natural disasters. Hodosan Shrine

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Saitama
94

Cycle around town...

Admire the scenery on an electric bike rented at spots including Seibu-Chichibu and Nagatoro stations for ¥600 for two hours (other plans also available). Bring cash and your passport. Rental bicycle at Seibu-Chichibu and Nagatoro stations

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96

Explore the depths of tea...

Stop for refreshments at this pretty tea salon near Ohanabatake Station that serves a range of tea from French black to quality Chinese oolong tea. Try their green tea or seasonal lunch set for something traditional. Ku & Kan

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Chichibu
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