The Shonan-Shinjuku line is operated by JR East and runs across the Kanto region’s Gunma, Saitama, Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures. You can easily spot it by its dark green stripes. It’s popular among commuters looking for a direct train line from Shinjuku Station to Yokohama Station. As with most train lines in Japan, different trains run along the Shonan-Shinjuku Line—namely the rapid train, the special rapid train, and the local train. In this article, we’ll look at things to do as you make your way through the line.
Omiya Station is one of the busiest along this line. It serves multiple Shinkansen lines, the Narita Express rapid service, and other local train lines. Being such a busy station with many travelers, it features a number of restaurants and shopping arcades in and around the station. Other than the station, one of the popular spots in the area is Omiya Park. It’s adorned with Japanese red pines, magnolia trees, plum trees, and cherry trees, which makes it one of the most visited parks in the area, especially in spring. The park also has large grass fields suitable for picnics with friends or games such as frisbee. Inside the park, there is a zoo with an open bird sanctuary and small animals such as squirrels. Other places to check out at the park are the Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore and Hikawa Shrine.
The next stop after Omiya Station on the rapid train is Urawa Station. If you are a soccer fan you might want to check out Urawa Soccer Street. It’s a 54-meter underground passage connecting Urawa Station and the Nakanoshima Bus Terminal. It is dedicated to the Urawa Reds soccer team, so it’s filled with posters of soccer players and merchandise shops. If you are hanging out with a group of friends, try out Numakage Park, which reopened earlier this summer after being closed for two years. The large complex of public pools at the park makes it suitable for a relaxed day at the pool during the warmer months. In winter, try out skating or take a swim in the indoor pool.
Shinjuku Station is Japan’s busiest train station. It is located at the center of the large Shinjuku business, entertainment, and shopping district. The station itself has a wealth of shops and restaurants, so there’s plenty to do without leaving the station. Outside the station, there are a myriad of activities to choose from. If you exit from the west side of the station you have easy access to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the famous Omoide Yokocho street, and Mosaic Street, which is known for its unique light displays and decor. The south exit leads to shopping complexes such as NEWoMan, Tokyu Hands, and Takashimaya. Lastly, use the east exit to get to the Kabukicho area which has many restaurants and bars and a very vibrant—if a bit risqué—nightlife.
Shibuya Station is as fast-paced as Shinjuku and is more popular among the young crowd. Although it’s very busy, it is easier to navigate compared to Shinjuku. Some of the places you can visit that aren’t far from the station are the Shibuya Scramble Square and the newly renovated Miyashita Park. If you want to pass time or like people watching, you can hang out at the Starbucks near the famous Shibuya crossing.
The next stop after Shibuya is Ebisu. One of the attractions in Ebisu is the Yebisu Garden Place, formerly known as Yebisu Beer Brewery. Yebisu Garden Place has many shops and restaurants including the Michelin 3 Joel Robuchon French restaurant. Other than shopping and dining, you can go for a walk in the garden which is adorned with fountains and flowers. Next to the plaza is the Museum of Yebisu Garden where visitors can learn about the famous Japanese beer brand’s history and try some of its brews.
Musashi Kosugi Station
A few stops away from Ebisu is Musashi Kosugi Station. Musashi Kosugi is considered a shopping haven and is definitely a must-stop for bargain hunters. There are many malls near the station, including LaLa Terrace, Tokyu Square, and Grand Tree Musashi Kosugi, which is just a four-minute walk from the station. We especially recommend the latter to people traveling with kids because they have an entire floor dedicated to kids and family activities.
Another major station along this line is Yokohama Station. While most people visit the Yokohama area because of seaside neighborhoods such as Minato Mirai, the area around the station also has a lot to offer. One of the places to visit is Joinus Yokohama, which is an underground shopping mall connected to the station. It’s important to know that the mall is like a maze, so you can easily lose your bearing there. However, on the flip side, you get to discover new shops as you try to find an exit. A five-minute walk from the station is Yokohama Vivre which has popular chain stores such as Uniqlo and GU, among many others.
Ofuna Station is the last station on the Shonan-Shinjuku Line. However, if you’re interested in exploring other areas in Kanagawa you can transfer to the Yokosuka and Tokaido lines which go to Kamakura and Odawara. One thing you should add to your itinerary the next time you are at Ofuna Station is the Hibiya Kadan Ofuna Flower Center. This garden features a variety of flowers, including peonies and Japanese iris, which have been cultivated on this site since the early 20th century and can only be seen here. The botanical garden also offers various events throughout the year, such as exhibitions and gardening seminars.