Shopping and leisure activities are things that both locals and tourists love to partake in, no matter what part of the world you look at. This is fulfilled, usually by commercial mall selections, arcades, and recreational areas. At the center of many developing metropolises are large entertainment complexes that do just that. The best idea would then be to place these complexes in an area that is easily accessible. In Japan, that is exactly what they tend to do.
What Is Tokyo Solamachi?
When it comes to Tokyo, these entertainment complexes number in the double digits, though only a handful is noteworthy. An example of such that is the Tokyo Solamachi. There are 77 top entertainment centers in Tokyo that are most visited, and Tokyo Solamachi – located at 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida 131-0045, Tokyo Prefecture - ranks at 4th place when it comes to things to do in Sumida, with 4 out 5 stars by 1,208 reviewers.
When translated directly, Tokyo Solamachi means “Tokyo Sky Town”. This is an allusion to where it is located, as it is found it the Tokyo Skytree’s base. In here, you’ll find many places to fulfill your shopping needs and wants, enjoy different activities, and cave into your foodie cravings. At the same time, you can get to know more about Tokyo through the specialized souvenirs, goods, and crafts available here.
Size, Use, and Accessibility
It takes quite a lot of space to hold all these stores – so you’ll notice that aside from being conveniently located at a popular tourist spot, this complex is quite large. In fact, within this complex is a high-rise tower that has 31 floors, a massive aquarium (Sumida Aquarium), a dome-shaped theater, a sectioned shopping center, educational institutes, and more.
It’s also very easily accessible and near many hotel choices, as you can take the Tobu Skytree Line to come here directly, or take the Hanzomon Line, Toei Asakusa Line, or Hanzomon Line, as Oshiage Station directly connects to this area.
A Quick History of Tokyo Solamachi in Sumida Ku
It all began in 2006 when news spread of a tower being built that would be powerful enough to transmit broadcasting signals to the entire region of Kanto, instead of relying on a series of different towers. This concept was constructed and successfully completed in 2012. Measuring in at 634 meters or 2,080 feet tall, the Tokyo Skytree (a reference to a tree towering in the sky) towered above a set of interconnected buildings that would coexist with the tower.
That set of interconnected buildings was planned from the very beginning to offer everything that tourists and locals could need on the spot - whether it would be more offices, exhibit locations, restaurants, or shopping outlets. Tokyo Solamachi and the Tokyo Skytree would form a balance; drawing crowds and business towards each other, thus, forming a little “town” all to itself, staying true to its name.
Information About the Shopping Area of Tokyo Solamachi
The first 10 floors of that high-rise tower cater to the shopping area. Beyond that are dedicated to offices. On the 30th and 31st floors, you can have dinner at the Solamachi Dining (Skytree View) area, with a 150-meter, breathtaking view of the bustling metropolis. Here is a guide to help you navigate these floors.
- The 1st floor is called “Solamachi Shotengai Shopping District” (particularly in the East Yard). “Shotengai”, technically, is a Japanese word for a long street that specifically holds commercial stores, and is near a subway. It is not open for cars to enter, and is usually covered with a roof, yet open-air. That’s exactly what Solamachi Shotengai Shopping District is; a passageway that has all your favorite treats and deals… and 35 of them to be exact.
- The 2nd floor has a mix of shops; more clothing stores for women (located in the “Fashion Zone), but more remarkably, “The Food Marche”. The Food Marche, an area that also goes by the term “local kitchen” is the combination of a deli, produce store and candy shop. It sells hard-to-find foodstuffs which people come just to this shop to buy – most especially when it comes to Japanese sweets that come from the golden days of Shitamachi; a part of Tokyo.
- On the 3rd floor is where the food court is located, also called the Solamachi Tabe-Terrace. While the other floors had food that you could buy and take home, snack on, or even give as souvenirs, this floor lets you sit down and enjoy a dining experience with Japanese, Chinese, Western varieties. Plus, there’s dessert.
- On the 4th floor you’ll find both specialty product stores and souvenir shops that are more modern-themed, yet still, pay tribute to old Tokyo by adding hints of the Edo period to its interiors – especially in the floor design. Although the way it was constructed makes it appears it’s one giant souvenir shop, it’s truly a series of them, displayed seamlessly.
- On the 5th floor is used for the Sumida Aquarium, and open spaces reserved for exhibitions and events. In the Sumida Aquarium, or “Sumida Suizokukan” in Japanese (すみだ水族館) there are 10,000 different marine animals, and even has a tank that can hold 350,000 liters of water. That tank is known as the nation’s biggest indoor and open tank, housing creatures such as fur seals and penguins. Admission costs 2050 yen, and the aquarium is open from 9 AM to 9 PM, with the entrance closing at 8 PM.
In these open spaces, many companies, institutes, and programs present their ideas – whether it’s for business, recreational, or educational purposes, and complement the experience or sale that they are offering with a phenomenal view. This floor is named the “Japan Experience Zone”.
- “Solamachi Dining” takes up both the 6th and 7th floors, featuring restaurants that offer dishes that come from all over the Japanese archipelago, giving those who choose to dine here a complete gastronomic experience of Japan. The floors are uniquely designed in such a way that it feels like you’re inside a mansion. The 7th floor in particular has a dazzling planetarium called “Tenku”.
- Higher up, on the 8th and 10th floor, you’ll find more cultural-themed stores, as a Postal museum occupies the 9th floor.
Need tips for when you shop or visit? Try going to the 10th floor of the building and work your way downwards instead of starting from the bottom and working your way up several floors. That way, you have an easier time traversing through the many sights, restaurants, and shops, and you don’t have to spend extra time holding your shopping bags as you go down the stairs.
What Are the Different Brands and Stores in Tokyo Solamachi?
Solamachi is home to outlets that sell both local and international brands. Imported shoes/clothes brands include Diesel, Zara, Fred Perry, and Dr. Martens. It also has Uniqlo, a famous Japanese clothing brand. Other local options include MURUA, Kissora, Lowrys Farm, and Beauty & Youth United Arrows.
Looking to pick up a few souvenirs? Gansho Shokuhin Sample-ya has sushi magnets that are sure to stand out from other usual trinkets. Ginza Natsuno has special Kaizogan chopsticks that you can display at home – or if you’re more into decorative fans, you can get one of those at Kyukyodo. Those who are interested in samurai and the culture of Japan’s history with its military, you can get an intricately fashioned helmet figure strap called a “Kawari Kabuto”.
Restaurant and Dining Options in Tokyo Solamachi
Westerners can feel at-home again with a good cup of joe from Starbucks, or a big mac from McDonald's over at Tokyo Solamachi. They also have KFC, Cold Stone, Max Brenner (A chocolate bar), and Tully’s Coffee.
Those who want to try food in the local scene recommended restaurants are tamahide Inchino; a restaurant that has existed and been under the Yamada family for 8 generations, located on the 7th floor – serving unparalleled “oyakodon” – a mixture of chicken, egg, and rice. Here, you should order the Iki Oyakodon which is their ultimate specialty.
Other restaurants to look out for are gyutansumiyaki rikyu on the 6th floor (their Cow Tongue set meal is highly recommended), and edomirakuchaya soamachitei on the 7th floor, serving the most sumptuous Edo Miso Beef Hotpot. Fans of tempura can get a Tempura Tower Set from arizuki, all the way up on the 31st floor of the building.
More Notable Food Shops
Those who want vegetarian options can look out for the restaurants Kua’aina, Rigoletto Rotisserie and Wine, Viva Kenary, Saikabo, Salon de Sweets, Indian Restaurant AMARA, Kitchen Jo’s, Yomen-Ya Goemon, Fukutaro, Udonhonjin Yamadaya, Tsukishima Meibetu Monja DARUMA, and so many more.
Most restaurants and food shops have English menus, except Saikabo and Udonhonjin Yamadaya.
Visit the Pokemon Center at Skytree Town
Pokemon fans rejoice – the Pokemon Center at Skytree town, which was opened only last July 6, 2016, is one of the most comprehensive Pokemon brand outlets in Japan. You can find rare and authentic merchandise here, as well as everything from plushies, figurines, pokemon cards, and the video games themselves; this is the Pokemon haven you’ve been looking for.
The Pokemon center is open from 10 AM to 9 PM, and is on the 5th floor of Tokyo Solamachi.
What are the Opening Hours of Tokyo Solamachi?
Tokyo Solamachi is open from 10 AM until 9 PM. The floors with restaurants open at 11 AM, and close at 11 PM. The opening and closing hour schedules may also depend on the individual store.
More About the Collaboration Between Tokyo Solamachi and Doraemon
Last January 31, 2017, Doraemon and Tokyo Solamachi joined forces to promote Doraemon’s movie, “Doraemon the Movie 2017: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi” that was set to come out on the 4th of March. All kinds of fun activities were prepared in anticipation, such as a virtual reality experience, photo booth, a themed café, an ice skating rink in the Sky Arena, and more. This is just one of the many examples of events that are held by the Tokyo Solamachi.
Those who are in wheelchairs will also get to access the complex’s bathrooms without problems, as they are all made wheelchair-accessible, aside from the ones on the 3rd Basement level, and 10th floor.
While you’re in Tokyo Solamachi, you have free Wi-Fi. All you need to do is connect to their SSID, which is “TOBU_Free_Wi-Fi”, and sign up with your email.
Tokyo Solamachi welcomes people of all age to come over and enjoy what they have to offer. That’s why. Tokyo Solamachi has many facilities that allow for easy care for both infants and kids. There’s a diaper-changing table on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th floors, replacement sheets on the 3rd and 6th floors, a device that both purifies and heats water in case you want to mix some formula the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th floors, a private room on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th floors, and a baby seat on the 3rd and 6th floors.
If you couldn’t bring your stroller or forgot it at home, you can make use of their baby-friendly shopping wagons, which can be used by kids from the age of 2 months until 3 years. This will cost you 100 yen, and has a weight restriction of 50 kg for its luggage carrier, and 20 kg on its sheet. You can avail of these strollers on the 1st floor on block 3 and 12, in front of the elevator and escalator respectively, or on the 2nd floor, block 3, and 3rd floor, block 5.