Students, shopping and Astro Boy in what's probably the best-named stop on the Yamanote Line.
Named by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1636, the area of Takadanobaba (literally “Takata’s horse spot”) was the famed shogun’s favorite horse riding, horse racing and horse-seeing spot. Takadanobaba has done quite well for itself over the past few centuries, becoming a well-equipped transport hub for commuters traveling in from the west of Tokyo.
The 9th busiest train station in the world, Takadanobaba Station connects three popular train lines. The area is also known as a popular student district due to its close proximity to the prestigious Waseda and Gakushuin Universities. The streets are studded with plenty of cheap shops, cafes, Japanese izakayas, ramen restaurants, and bars – mostly with a low-key, chill vibe.
If you’re looking for major landmarks other than universities and vocational schools, the monolithic Big Box Building proudly stands as the center of entertainment in the area. The building has an arcade, a book store, inexpensive clothing shops, restaurants, and cafes. There’s even a sports gym inside. If you have pets or like curry (or both), try one of the various animal cafes or a branch of the popular Shanty Soup Curry shop in the surrounding area.
Given Takadanobaba’s young population, it also makes sense that Japan’s never-ageing wonderboy was born and raised here.
Even before exiting the station you’ll probably notice the large pictures of Astro-Boy (a fictional character created by Osamu Tezuka in 1952) on display. Fans of the Astro-boy manga, anime, and movie will be thrilled to find large murals depicting Tezuka’s works in addition to a plethora of character-related good stores scattered around the station.
And yes, if you were wondering, that was the Astro-Boy theme song that you heard while exiting the train platform. The JR Station has been playing that tune since 2003, Astro-boy’s (fictional) birth year.