Tokyo Guide: Nagatacho
Tokyo Area Guide: Nagatacho 永田町
Nagatacho is what Capitol Hill is to the States, or Westminster is to London, and, like those centers of power, the placename alone signifies "national politics." Nagatacho is the face of politics in Japan, as opposed to the government administration, or bureaucracy, which is concentrated in nearby Kasumigaseki.
This area of Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, only a few hundred meters from the Imperial Palace, is home to the National Diet Building, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet Office.
The National Diet Building is an imposing pyramid-roofed structure built between 1920 and 1936. The north wing houses the House of Councillors (with 242 members), and the south wing, the House of Representatives (with 480 members).
A free 60-minute tour of the Upper House of the National Diet (the House of Councillors, or Sangiin in Japanese) is available between 8am and 5pm on weekdays (last entry 4pm). Go to the House of Councillors website for details.
The imposing, modern Office of the Prime Minister, or Kantei, is diagonally opposite the National Diet Building, and was completed in 2002, replacing the previous one built in 1929. It is accessible from Tameike-sanno Station on the Chiyoda, Marunouchi, and Nanboku Subway Lines.
The National Diet Library is just north of the National Diet Building. It dates from 1948. As well as its legislative collection, it also keeps maps, foreign books about Japan, and even all phonographic recordings made in Japan. Tours of the Library are available. Go to the National Diet Library website for details.
The massive Hie Shrine (hee-eh) is also located in Nagatacho. Hie Shrine is a centuries old Shinto shrine dedicated to Ohyamakui-no-kami, the guardian deity of Edo Castle, i.e. the present Imperial Palace. Destroyed in the Pacific War, its present structure dates from 1958. It features the Sanno Matsuri festival every June 15, one of old Edo's (i.e. pre-1868 Tokyo's) big three festivals.
Hotels near Nagatacho
Nagatacho and environs has several quality hotels.
The top of the range Hotel New Otani (in nearby Kioicho), the Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu, the 91-room Hotel Sunroute Akasaka, the Akasaka Granville Hotel, the Toshi Center Hotel (in nearby Hirakawacho), Le Port Kojimachi (also in Hirakawacho), the APA Villa Hotel and the venerable Capitol Tokyu Hotel, the flagship hotel of the Tokyu hotel chain.
Getting to Nagatacho
Nagatacho Station is on the Yurakucho, Hanzamon and Namboku lines of the Tokyo subway system. Nagatacho Station is also connected by an underground walkway to Akasaka-mitsuke Station (Ginza and Marunouchi lines).
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