Takadanobaba Station: Gateway to Tokyo’s student hub

Kanda river in Takadanobaba, Japan.

Takadanobaba Station is located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku special ward, between two commercial districts – Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The station first opened its doors in 1910.

Takadanobaba literally means “Takada’s horse grounds”. The area is named for a baba, or horseback riding and racing grounds which used to occupy the area, and the Takata, the family who built it in the 1600s.

In keeping with this tradition, demonstrations of archery on horseback are held in nearby Toyama Park each October.

Today, Takadanobaba is known as a college town with a large student population. It is also the home of much science fiction fandom and the namesake of the planet Takodana in the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On this page, you can find out how to get to and around Takadanobaba Station using your JR Pass, and learn about the other enticing attractions in this district.

Takadanobaba Station train lines

Takadanobaba Station is located on the JR Yamanote Line, also known as the Yamanote Loop Line. The Japan Rail Pass can be used on this popular line.

Takadanobaba Station is also home to several non-JR lines. These include Seibu Railway’s Seibu Shinjuku Line and the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line T-03. Tozai Line trains also run on the Chuo-Sobu and Toyo Rapid Railway Lines.

Takadanobaba Station Layout

Takadanobaba Station has two levels, one with ticket counters, coin lockers and other amenities. The other level houses the train platforms.

The Yamanote Line’s island platform exists parallel to 2 Seibu Shinjuku Line platforms. The platforms are connected by transfer gates on the ground level, located by the main Waseda Exit, as well as by an overhead transfer concourse.

Tracks 1 and 2 serve the Yamanote Line, while tracks 3 through 5 serve the Seibu Shinjuku Line. The Tokyo Metro Tozai Line uses two subway platforms.

While waiting for your train, listen for the theme music from Astro Boy. This Japanese film and TV anime franchise began as the Mighty Atom in Japanese manga all the way back 1952.

The music is played prior to each train departure, honoring the fact that the story was set in the Takadanobaba area. Astro Boy is said to have been “born” in Takadanobaba in 2003.

The station has numerous exits, but the best-known is the Waseda exit, situated in the northeast part of the station. This leads onto the street of the same name, from where you can take a bus to the nearby Waseda University.

How to get to Takadanobaba Station

Reaching Takadanobaba Station is straightforward using the JR Pass, thanks to its central location on the JR Yamanote Line. Its adjacent stations are Shin-Okubo Station and Mejiro Station.

You can get to Takadanobaba:

The station is also accessible via the Seibu Shinjuku Line and the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line.

Things to do near Takadanobaba Station

Ramen restaurant in Takadanobaba, Japan.
Ramen restaurant – Photo by Piti

Takadanobaba and the surrounding area is a popular student district thanks to its proximity to Waseda University and other schools.

As a result, you can find a wide variety of karaoke clubs and cat cafés, as well as izakaya (inexpensive bars similar to a pub). The area is also a favorite of foodies, as there are over 100 ramen restaurants and eateries offering exotic cuisine.

Next to the station is the Big Box building, which has become a symbol of Takadanobaba. This shopping center houses an Uniqlo clothing store, gymnasium, swimming pool, bowling alley, arcade, and fast-food restaurants and cafés.

Other notable tourist stop-offs in Takadanobaba include:

  • Mickey House, an English conversation café and bar
  • Toyama Park, a must–visit during the cherry blossom season

Additionally, you’ll see artifacts paying homage to Astro Boy throughout the neighborhood. These include 2 large murals of Osamu Tezuka’s artwork across from the station.

You can also bring home Astro Boy memorabilia from the numerous bookshops or the Village Vanguard. This popular underground store is located just 2 blocks from the station.

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