It can be tough finding an apartment in Tokyo that is the perfect balance: affordable, fun, and close to work. But, lucky for you, our Best Train Lines for Living in Tokyo series was made to help you with just that!
With its first section opening in 1962, the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line was the fourth subway line built in Tokyo. It’s a useful line for getting from eastern Tokyo to the center without many transfers.
The Hibiya line is very popular, and it’s an important line for those needing to get to work in some of Tokyo’s major business areas, such as Ebisu, Naka-Meguro and Hibiya. Unfortunately, that does mean that the line gets very crowded, particularly during rush hour.
Like many of Tokyo’s central lines, the morning rush hour can get pretty intense on the Hibiya line, especially on trains heading for Naka-Meguro.
2020 congestion rates show numbers as high as 110% between 7:50 a.m. and 8:50 a.m., only falling to 99% after 8:50 a.m. This is at least an improvement on the previous year’s numbers, where it reached 158%!
The Hibiya line’s 110% congestion rate means that you’ll be up close and personal with your fellow passengers but should be able to grab onto a bar or hanging strap. If you get tactical about where you’re standing on a longer journey, you’ll be able to get a seat 7/10 times as someone leaves.
Trains come every 2-3 minutes in peak hours, too, so you can skip a train if it’s so crowded you need to push yourself on.
The Hibiya line stops at some elegant business hubs and some fun tourist spots in Tokyo.
Naka-Meguro and Ebisu
Naka-Meguro and Ebisu are refined and stylish neighborhoods with a fairly laid-back vibe compared to their overcrowded neighbor, Shibuya. That is, of course, until you get to hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season. Meguro River is well-known for its pretty pink scenes in spring, bringing half of Tokyo, phones at the ready for pictures.
The areas offer fun year-round activities, too. Museums and art galleries are abundant, such as the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture, the Meguro Parasitological Museum, and the Museum of Yebisu Beer set in the elegant and spacious Ebisu Garden Place.
Roppongi has a very international atmosphere, with overseas franchises like the Hard Rock Cafe and an active nightlife scene that attracts expats from far and wide. But if nightlife isn’t your scene, there are some great temples and shrines to explore and the architectural and business side.
Similarly international but for different reasons, Ginza is the place to go for premium products and dinner with a view, but it also has some surprisingly affordable dining and drinking options dotted around, making you feel fancy without the hefty price tag.
What Ueno lacks in glitz and glamor, it makes up for in charm and practicality. There’s plenty to do in Ueno without having to go far. Ueno Park offers a zoo, a theater, a picturesque lake, and some great hanami opportunities (if you don’t mind the crowds). And that’s just Ueno Park!
Nearby, you’ll also find private-owned izakaya and fun second-hand shops around the famous Ameyoko, a lively market street with traditional sweet and savory food items.
If you need help choosing, here are picks for the three best neighborhoods based on budget and location.
Ningyocho, (lit. Doll Town), so named for its history of doll makers and puppeteers living in the area, is a good combination of laid-back and easily accessible. Even on foot, the business areas of Nihonbashi and Hibiya are not far, making it a great choice for anyone who prioritizes short commute times.
There are a lot of traditional food items and sweets to be found in Ningyocho, such as the “ningyo-yaki,” filled with anko (bean paste) and shaped in the faces of the Seven Lucky Gods. The ningyo-yaki can be found at Itakuraya, a sweet shop just off the famous Amazake Yokocho, a short shopping street packed with traditional food and crafts.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥78,000 – ¥150,000
- Amazake Yokocho – Traditional sweets and souvenirs galore
- Historic clock tower – An ode to what was once a puppeteering hotspot
Their slightly less central location makes Minowa and Iriya less pricey options towards Tokyo’s east. But you’ll be right by Ueno, Asakusa and Akihabara, and the Hibiya line makes it easy to get to the other side of Tokyo. Seems like a good deal!
In Minowa and Iriya, you’ll find plenty of temples and shrines and cute areas for daytime wanders, such as the paths by the Toei Street Car, known for its scenic photo ops in spring.
There are also some good shopping opportunities, such as Joyfull Minowa Shopping Street, a market with local goods and traditional mainstays. You might even find yourself at the Asagao Matsuri in July, where hundreds of Morning Glory plants are displayed.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥58,000 – ¥102,000
- Toei Street Car (Toden) – The adorable old-timey streetcar makes for scenic photos
- Asagao Matsuri – Summer vibes all-around at the July flower festival
In a little square of its own between Roppongi, Ebisu and Shibuya, you’ll find Hiroo. You’ll have more luck finding reasonably-priced apartments here than among the jaw-dropping prices of its neighbors but still benefit from the imported goods and elegant culture.
In Hiroo, you can find Hiroo Sanpo Doori (Hiroo Walking Street), lined with cherry trees in spring and fun restaurants and shops year-round. On the other side of the station, you’ll find Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park, a place to relax by the pond in your downtime. And further toward Shibuya are the Yamatane Museum of Art and the Kokugakuin University Museum for more cultured moments.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥77,000 – ¥160,000