With daily commuter numbers topping a million, the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line is one of Tokyo’s busiest. And with a history dating back to 1954, the famous red line bleeds pedigree. Representing the capital’s western and central districts, the line’s twenty-eight stations—including a small branch line—feature some heavy-hitting spots and unique localities.
Ogikubo Station opens up the line with the elegant Otaguro Park. A former property of pioneer music critic Motoo Otaguro, this strolling garden features his Western-style home, tea rooms and carp-filled ponds.
Next at Minami-asagaya Station is Subaru. A popular Okinawan ramen bar, their boneless spare ribs topping is stewed to perfection, making the dishes a rich representative of Japan’s southern islands.
For traditional confectionery, head out of Shin-koenji Station for Wagashi Wabi. With its azuki red bean paste-filled dorayaki and mitarashi dango basted with sweet soy glaze, this residential store is as local as they come.
Close to Higashi-koenji Station, the historic Shinsei-ji Temple greets visitors with a classic sanmon gate. Beyond it lies manicured gardens and cultural assets like a work by the 15th-century master painter, Sesshu Toyo.
Shin-nakano Station leads to another temple, Jigen-ji. Originally established in the 16th century, the temple’s impressive golden stupa holds relics excavated in the 19th century from a royal temple in Thailand.
The three-station branch line is home to Nakano-shimbashi Station and its tattoo-friendly Kiyoharuyu public bathhouse. Nakano-fujimicho Station features the authentically flavored French bakery Boulangerie Lebois while Honancho Station leads to Honan Ginza Shotengai, a retro-shopping street busy with annual events.
With only 4 seats and a 30-minute time limit, Mukan is a reservation-only ramen bar just outside of Nakano-sakanue Station. Freakishly popular, their only dish uses an oyster-based broth that is magnetic in its appeal.
Continuing with noodles is Teuchi Soba Fujiya right by Nishi-shinjuku Station. Elegantly understated, the restaurant’s ambiance is matched by the rustic flavor of the handmade soba noodles.
For authentic gelato at Shinjuku Station, try Giolitti Shinjuku. Sourcing their ingredients directly from Italy, they offer classic European and Japanese flavors like pistachio and hojicha roasted green tea.
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Suehirotei stands outside Shinjuku-sanchome Station. Exuding a historical Edo-period vibe, this classical theater is one of the few remaining locations to offer traditional rakugo comedy performances.
A charming spot just north of Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station, Cocochiyo Cafe and its drip coffees, handmade cakes and easy breakfast and lunch sets combine to make a great spot for a break.
Parents will recognize the appeal of the Fire Museum. Next to Yotsuya-sanchome Station, this free facility features child-friendly activities, helicopters and a great tenth-floor viewing lounge.
Yotsuya Station leads to the grave of Hattori Hanzo, master ninja and hand to Tokugawa Ieyasu. His final resting place, Sainen-ji Temple, houses his battle helmet and a huge spear weighing in at a massive 7.5kg.
The Japanese Garden of Hotel New Otani is a wondrous sight. Accessible from Akasaka-mitsuke Station, the garden’s owners have included the Imperial House and even a master sumo wrestler.
The quality of the edomae sushi at Sushi Kanesaka is reflected not only by its location near Kokkai-gijidomae Station but also by its Michelin-starred sushi chef, Shinji Kanesaka.
Kasumigaseki Station leads to Japan’s Geodetic Origin Point. Registered as a Cultural Property, this location is a reference for measuring elevation across the nation.
Ginza Station is no stranger to design but Whitestone Gallery takes their art globally. Introducing Japanese artists to the world, the gallery regularly stages exhibitions both here and in its overseas locations.
Commemorating Jan Joosten van Loodensteyn, the Bell of Peace stands outside Tokyo Station. A Dutchman stranded ashore in the Edo period, Jan Joosten went on to serve none other than Tokugawa Ieyasu himself.
Located in the luxurious Palace Hotel by Otemachi Station is Tatsumi. The quiet quality of this six-seated tempura bar and its delicately prepared seasonal menu is a symphony of satiation.
A short stroll from Awajicho Station is the thoroughly modern Leon’s Coffee. With its kiosk ordering system and corner location, the cafe offers up an undeniably smooth appeal.
From Ochanomizu Station lies Yushima Seido, the largest Confucian temple in Tokyo. The temple’s austere grandeur reflects the intellectual authority it once wielded as tutor to the Tokugawa shoguns.
Connoisseurs of freshness will love Shiboriya 935. Located near Hongo-sanchome Station, this juice bar serves vegetable smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and even spicy curry soups.
There’s no escaping Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Directly accessible from Korakuen Station, its many high points include the Engetsukyo Bridge whose aesthetic form makes it an idyllic attraction.
Myogadani Station takes visitors to Rinsen-ji Temple, home to a rare shibarare jizo statue. Worshippers make a wish by binding the statue with rope, returning to remove the bind once their wish comes true.
The Shintaro Suzuki Memorial Museum, former residence of the famed scholar of French literature, lies outside of Shin-otsuka Station. The historical design components of this Cultural Property lend it an air of sophistication.
The Marunouchi Line ends at Ikebukuro Station, one of the capital’s major commercial districts. Head straight to the Seibu Ikebukuro Rooftop Garden where lush greenery, a substantial pond and food and drinks make it the perfect place to close out a day of capital sightseeing along one of Tokyo’s most important lines.
The Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line can be explored using a Tokyo Subway 24-hour (¥800), 48-hour (¥1,200) or 72-hour (¥1,500) ticket.