Otsuka Area Guide

Otsuka is a neighborhood that blends traditional Tokyo flavor with recent efforts at gentrification. Located in Toshima Ward, it's one station away from the major transportation hub of Ikebukuro. The vibe here is lively and local. Pachinko parlors and adult establishments are clustered near the station, balanced with the requisite neighborhood shotentgai (shopping street) and plenty of small-bite restaurants and izakaya (Japanese-style hubs).

Contents

Location

Otsuka is a neighborhood adjacent to the large entertainment/business district of Ikebukuro in Toshima Ward. While the Ikebukuro name is more recognizable, Otsuka offers a livable and affordable neighborhood. Otsuka’s down-to-earth feel is a contrast to the bustling urban feel of downtown Tokyo areas. Toshima Ward is currently undergoing redevelopment projects (as of February 2020) to remake the area as a cultural and art capital of Tokyo. These plans are mainly centered around Ikebukuro, but Otsuka is also feeling the effects of this push for modernization. Right now it’s a great time to find new apartments in the area, and also for budget apartment seekers to find something on the Yamanote Line.

Key Stats

Average Rent in Otsuka

Apartment Type Average Rent ($1 = ¥110)
1R 1K ¥103,900/month ($950)
1LDK 2K 2DK ¥168,600/month ($1,530)
2LDK 3K 3DK ¥242,800/month ($2,210)

Apartments For Rent in Otsuka

Train Lines

JR/Subway/Other Line
JR East Yamanote
Toei  Arakawa Line
Tokyo Metro*  Marunouchi

*Access to the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi subway line is through Shin-Otsuka Station, a 10-minute walk from Otsuka Station.

Accessibility

Transportation to…  Line Time
Shinjuku Yamanote, direct 11 min
Shibuya Yamanote, direct 18 min
Tokyo Yamanote, direct 22 min
Shinagawa Yamanote, direct 31 min
Otemachi Marunouchi, direct 17 min
Yokohama, Kanagawa Yamanote (Ikebukuro), transfer to Shonan-Shinjuku 42 min

Orientation Around the Station

The JR Station at Otsuka is only serviced by the Yamanote Line, which makes getting around that specific station pretty straightforward. Right next to the JR Station is the Toei Arakawa Line (Sakura Tram) which is a tram line that passes through very residential parts of Tokyo. And lastly, a roughly 10-minute walk south from the JR Station will bring you to Shin-Otsuka Station, which is serviced by the Toei Marunouchi subway line.

The South Exit of the JR Otsuka Station. This building is also the atre vie shopping mall where you’ll find a grocery store in the basement, a Starbucks, and a UNIQLO clothing store among others. Photo: ivva イワヲ via Flickr

At JR Otsuka Station

  • At the North Exit of the station there is a roundabout with a taxi pickup/drop off area. Across the street you’ll find a Starbucks and Pronto coffee shop.
  • The South Exit of the station opens up to a small open terrace with benches. Occasionally there will be neighborhood events held in this square, which gives the area a lively feeling.

And a shot of the north side of Otsuka Station. Above is the JR Yamanote Line, and below you can spot the Toei Arakawa Tram. Photo: Nyao148 via Wikimedia Commons

Awa Odori

Otsuka hosts its own Awa Odori every year in August. This festival is a part of the Obon festival which is a traditional Buddhist custom honoring one’s ancestors. The Awa Odori portion of the festival is a large dance, with many different neighborhoods holding local parades and festivities.

Livability

Otsuka probably isn’t the first neighborhood to come to mind when apartment seekers are looking for a place in Tokyo. However, the area provides a lot of little conveniences that all add up to create a unique neighborhood.

The first thing to mention about Otsuka is that it is a blend of business and residential, and because of this, it seems to be more geared toward single men than families or women. Things like late night izakayas, cabaret clubs, and pachinko parlors are pretty common around the station. That’s not to say the entire neighborhood is a seedy underbelly of Tokyo, but there are parts of Otsuka that you might want to avoid at night.

There are plenty of restaurants and izakayas in the streets in Otsuka. Particularly those that appeal to the white-collar workers that make up a large portion of the foot traffic in the area. Photo: ivva イワヲ via Flickr

Otsuka is known for this unique blend of showa (referring to the Showa period, although mainly used in the present to describe a sense of nostalgia for the postwar era) style business and residential sections. Since it’s not a particularly touristy location and also since it’s not a major business district, English-friendly businesses and services are sparse. Of course, this can be said about most areas of Tokyo, but it is something to consider if you’re trying to plan around a limited Japanese language ability.

This kind of local market is a glimpse into the postwar style Tokyo environment that you’ll find in Otsuka. Photo: ivva イワヲ via Flickr

Otsuka does have a bit of an international feel thanks to the mosque in the neighborhood, which acts as a community center for Muslims in the area. Along with this, you’ll also find a few halal groceries with imported foodstuffs.

The transportation access from Otsuka is also a plus for the neighborhood, since the Yamanote Line gives you a direct connection to many major stations around Tokyo.

Eating

Otsuka is almost a well-kept secret when it comes to gems of restaurants in Tokyo. The Michelin starred tan tan noodle restaurant Nakiryu constantly has a line of hungry customers waiting patiently at the door. Those who are looking for something other than a normal Japanese izakaya for a quick drink after working hours can enjoy a cold brew at Titans (a craft beer bar that specializes in imported beers) or Nama-chan (a local brewpub that serves its beers on site).

Useful Info at a Glance

Supermarkets

Nearby Supermarkets Hours Address
Shimadaya Ōtsuka Mon. – Sat.: 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Sun.: 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM

3 Chome-47-8 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0005
Yoshiya Otsuka 9:30 AM – 11:00 PM 2 Chome-24-20 Kitaotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0004
atré vie Otsuka 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM 3 Chome-33-1 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0005
Seijo Ishii 7:30 AM – 10:30 PM 〒170-0005 Tokyo, Toshima City, Minamiotsuka, 3 Chome−33−1 JR大塚南口ビル アトレヴィ大塚

*This is just a selection of supermarkets in the area.

Gyms

Nearby Gyms Hours Address
GOLD’S GYM North Tokyo (Otsuka) Mon. – Sat.: 7:00 AM – 11:30 PM

Sun.: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

〒170-0004 Tokyo, Toshima City, Kitaotsuka, 2 Chome−24−20 永信ビル 3F
Anytime Fitness Otsuka 24 hrs 2 Chome-10-5 Kitaotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0004

*These are just examples of gyms available in the area.

Universities

Nearby Universities Information Address
Taisho University Taisho University Home Page 3 Chome-20-1 Nishisugamo, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0001

Language Schools

Nearby Language Schools Information Address
Tokyo International Exchange College Tokyo International Exchange College Home Page 3 Chome-19-7 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0005

Ward Office, Police, Library

Nearby Community Center/City Hall/Police Station Hours Address
Toshima Kuritsu Sugamo Library Mon.: Closed

Tue. – Fri.: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat. – Sun.: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

3 Chome-8-2 Sugamo, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0002
Toshima Ward Eastern Regional Office Mon. – Fri.: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Sat. – Sun.: Closed

1 Chome-15-10 Kitaotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0004
Sugamo Police Station Mon. – Fri.: 8:30 AM – 5:15 PM

Sat. – Sun.: Closed

1 Chome-15-15 Kitaotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0004

Hospitals/Clinics

Nearby Hospitals Address
Tokyo Metropolitan Ohtsuka Hospital 2 Chome-8-1 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-8476

*These are examples of hospitals/clinics in the area.

Parks

Nearby Parks Address
Ōtsuka Park 4 Chome-49 Otsuka, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0012

Family-Friendly Features

Nearby Family Friendly Features Address
Toshima Ward Residents’ Hall Minami-Otsuka 2 Chome-36-1 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0005

Department Stores/Shopping Malls

Nearby Shopping Malls Information Address
atré vie Otsuka atré vie Otsuka Home Page 3 Chome-33-1 Minamiotsuka, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0005

 


Otsuka Apartments

Apartments for rent near Ikebukuro Station:

Otsuka is one of the least expensive areas to rent an apartment along the Yamanote Line. With the redevelopment projects put in place (as of February 2020) this might be a perfect opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the revitalization of this neighborhood. You can find affordable apartments in the older parts of the neighborhood starting at around ¥55,000. And by searching by year built on our website, you can browse the newest apartments in the area.

Apartments For Rent in Otsuka

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Lead photo: ivva イワヲ via Flickr

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