Your next adventure in Japan: Ekichika
By Tomomi Dodd
This time I am going to write about Japanese “Ekichika.” “Eki” means stations, and “Chika” means underground in Japanese. So, “Ekichika” refers to the integration of shops and restaurants that spread across the basement of metro stations in Japan. Recently, development of Ekichika are astonishing in Japan and it is as if Ekichika are its own unique world. Though I currently work in Washington, D.C. and have traveled to multiple big cities overseas, I have never seen such dynamic Ekichika outside of Japan. Ekichika are becoming very important places for tourism, socialization and finding new trends and cultures. In this journal, I would like to introduce you to some of the Ekichika spots I can personally recommend to visit.
Tokyo Yaechika (Tokyo Yaesu-Chikagai)
Yaechika is located underground of Yaesu side in Tokyo station. It is directly connected to Tokyo Station. It contains about 180 shops, including approximately 60 different restaurants and cafes. There is a section called “Tokyo Ramen Street” which consists of 8 very competitive ramen shops. “Tokyo Character Street” consists of about 30 character shops including Pokemon and Studio Ghibli. I used to work near the Tokyo station, so I was often eating and dining at Yaechika. There are always new shops and you never get bored!
(Image Source: tokyo ekichika yaesu - Bing images)
Inside of the Ekichika, there is a section called “TOKYO GASHAPON STREET.” GASHAPON is vending machine dispenser of capsule toys. There are over 100 Gashapon vending machines located there. And you can find these machines in many places not only here but in other stations, shops, and restaurants throughout Japan. My nieces in Japan have been obsessed with these!
(Image Source: gashapon - Bing images)
(Image Source GASHAPON sushi - Bing images)
Another Ekichika spot I would like to talk about is Ikebukuro in Tokyo. There are over 700 shops and restaurants around Ikebukuro station. It is directly connected to multiple big department stores including Tobu Department store. Tobu Department store has food sections, and you can enjoy a variety of great delis! Ikebukuro is also one of the hot spots for good ramen restaurants! I myself strolled around in the station almost every day as my train transferred at Ikebukuro. I would hang around the book store at the Tobu department store and stop by my favorite bakery underground. If you spot the Ikefukurou statues while you are strolling the underground of Ikebukuro station, you have found good luck! They are a symbol of great fortune and are also a useful meeting spot for people.
(Image Source: 55 things to do in Ikebukuro | Time Out Tokyo)
Ekichika are an excellent utilization of space and have a lot of great, unlimited possibilities. I am looking forward to seeing how Japanese Ekichika will be developing in the future. There could be Ekichika hotels, bath houses, and schools someday. I am sure you will find something unforgettable in Japanese Ekichika.