Tokyo Guide: Marunouchi 丸の内
Tokyo Area Guide: Marunouchi, Yaesu, Nihonbashi 丸の内 八重洲 日本橋
Marunouchi, Yaesu, and Nihonbashi are the three areas immediately around Tokyo Station.
Marunouchi, especially, to the west of Tokyo Station, is a proud, towering concentration of the headquarters of the richest and most powerful corporations in Japan.
Marunouchi also boasts the recently opened Shin Marunouchi Building and its slightly older sister across the road, the Marunouchi Building, for shopping and dining par excellence.
The Oazo Building, adjacent to the Marunouchi North Exit of Tokyo Station includes numerous stores, restaurants and cafes, 4 floors of the Maruzen bookshop and the Marunouchi Tokyo Hotel. The Oazo Building is known for its clean and light design.
The name Oazo comes from the Esperanto word for "oasis," the Oazo complex comprises four new buildings and one existing one. It was built on the 24,000 square meter site that was the site of the headquarters of the now defunct Japan National Railways (now privatized as 'JR'). The main tenant is Maruzen Company, one of Japan's major book retailers and the above mentioned Marunouchi Hotel.
Tei Park Communications Museum, Marunouchi, Tokyo Station area & The Babasaki Moat of the Imperial Palace, Marunouchi, Tokyo
The Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum opened in Marunouchi April 2010 and is a replica of the original brick Mitsubishi Ichigokan building, designed by British architect Josiah Conder in 1894, that once stood here.
The Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum's space also includes a pleasant English-style garden called Brick Square with water features, outdoor seating and a Henry Moore statue. Brick Square is a favorite of local office workers to relax and chat in a relaxing, garden environment.
Other places of interest in the Marunouchi area of Tokyo include the Tokyo International Forum, a convention center, concert venue and exhibition space, the Tei Park Communications Museum dedicated to the history of postal and telephone services in Japan and Tokia in the Tokyo Building thronged with cafes and restaurants in its basement and first two floors catering to the many office workers in the area.
The Tokyo International Forum is across the street from Brick Square. A multi-purpose art, concert and convention center, the Tokyo International Forum includes a tree-lined atrium below its towering glass buildings, which is a pleasant space to stop and relax. The Tokyo International Forum is the venue for the Oedo Antique Market on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. The Oedo Antique Market is the largest outdoor antiques market in Japan and attracts over 250 stall holders and crowds of up to 50,000 people to view the ceramics, masks, furniture, tools, toys, kimono, obi and various bric a brac on display.
Walking right out of Tokyo Station's Marunouchi Exit past the Ooza Building brings you to the Tei Park Communications Museum, a joint venture by NTT and Japan Post displaying exhibits of Japan's postal, saving, insurance, and information technology services. Highlights of Tei Park include Japan's first postage stamp vending machine and an embossing Morse telegraph given to Japan by Commodore Perry in 1854 after his arrival in Shimoda.
The Idemitsu Museum of Arts (Tel: 03 5777 8600) is above the Imperial Theater opposite the grounds of the Imperial Palace grounds and its moats. The Imperial Theater stages both Japanese and Western productions and is a traditional big-theater venue. The Idemitsu Museum of Arts showcases revolving exhibitions of its huge collection of Japanese art from the Jomon Period to the present day including Edo era byobu (folding screens), ukiyo-e, calligraphy and ceramics. The basement of the same building includes a number of good cafes and restaurants.
Marunouchi Naka-dori Avenue is one of Tokyo's most elegant shopping boulevards; famous brands on Tokyo's Naka-dori include Burberry, Paul Smith and Hermes
Make sure you include a stroll down grand and elegant Marunouchi Naka-dori Avenue, the showcase of the Tokyo Station area. This tree-lined street is closed to traffic at lunchtimes and is known for its chic cafes, restaurants and clothes stores.
Flagship stores on Marunouchi Naka-dori include Burberry, Paul Smith, Hermes and Emporio Armani. Naka-dori has some international class art work along its sidewalks including pieces by Michael Sandle and works on loan from the Hakone Open Air Museum.
Another five minutes walk west brings you to the outskirts of the Imperial Palace with its impressive stone walls, the wide Babasaki moat and Nijubashi Bridge.
The Marunouchi and Yaesu districts of Tokyo make for a perfect base for any stay in the Japanese capital. Close to Tokyo Station and within easy walking distance of the parks at the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Gardens (Hibiya Koen), Marunouchi and Yaesu offer museums, plus excellent shopping and up-market restaurants.
In Yaesu the Hotel Ryumeikan is located in a 15 storey tower with great views while the Pearl Hotel Yaesu is popular with both Japanese and foreign guests. The Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi is convenient for Tokyo International Forum.
Other notable hotels in Marunouchi include the luxury Peninsula Hotel with views onto Naka-dori and the historic and opulent Imperial Hotel overlooking Hibiya Park.
Yaesu is on the other side of Tokyo Station. Yaesu-dori extends grandly from the station's east exit (housing Daimuru Department Store) and intersects with Chuo-dori Avenue and Showa-dori Avenue. Check out the Bells of Peace, just before the intersection with Chuo-dori, that chime on the hour. While still home to many of the rich and powerful, Yaesu is on a decidedly more human scale than Marunouchi. Among the many office buildings, it has numerous bookstores and several art galleries. Don't miss a walk down the most picturesque and bustling street in Yaesu, Sakura-dori Avenue which, as the name suggests, is overhung all the way down with sakura (cherry blossom) trees.
Turn left up Chuo-dori and in less than 5 minutes you are in the Nihonbashi areas. The 20-storey Coredo Nihonbashi is the star here, built on the site of the former Tokyu Department store in 2004, it also houses Merrill Lynch offices and Waseda University's Nihonbashi campus. The opening resulted in the neighboring Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi department stores having to refurbish their Nihonbashi branches.
The Bells of Peace, Yaesu, Tokyo; Nihonbashi Bridge, Nihonbashi, Tokyo
The Maru & Shin-Maru Buildings near Tokyo Station; Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Bank
Marunouchi, Yaesu and Nihonbashi are accessed from Tokyo Station (JR Marunouchi line, Marunouchi subway line), Yurakucho Station on the Yurakucho Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line and Yamanote Line and Otemachi Station on the Chiyoda, Marunouchi, Tozai and Hanzomon lines of Tokyo Metro and the Mita Line of the Toei subway network.
The Marunouchi Shuttle is a free shuttle bus that describes a loop of 13 stops around the Marunouchi area from 10am to 8pm. The shorter Otemachi route with 6 stops operates from 8am-10pm. Stops on the Marunouchi Shuttle eco-bus include Yusen Biru, Marunouchi My Plaza, Tokyo Kaikan, Daiichi Seimei, Hibiya, Shinkokusai Biru, Mitsubishi Biru, Shinmaru Biru, Tokyo Sankei Biru, Nikkei Biru, Keidanren Kaiken JA Biru, and Yomiuri Shimbun.
Sky Bus tours of Tokyo begin from the nearby Mitsubishi Building and you can walk in and easily book a bus tour of Tokyo of your choice on one of the company's open-top double-decker buses.
Statue by Henry Moore in Brick Square, Marunouchi; Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum from the Tokia Building
The atrium of the Tokyo International Forum; Art installation at the Tokyo International Forum complex