Tokyo Area Guide: Marunouchi, Yaesu, Nihonbashi 丸の内 八重洲 日本橋
Marunouchi, Yaesu, Nihonbashi
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.
Right in front of Tokyo station and on either side of the street are the Shin Marunouchi Building and its slightly older sister across the road, the Marunouchi Building, for shopping and dining par excellence.
A beautiful way to start seeing Marunouchi is to stroll down the tasteful Marunouchi Naka-dori Avenue. This tree-lined street is the showcase of the Tokyo Station area and is lined with chic cafes, restaurants and designer clothes stores. It is closed to traffic at 11am-3pm weekdays, 11am-5pm weekends, when it is called "Urban Terrace."
Marunouchi Naka-dori has numerous flagship fashion stores and some international class art work along its sidewalks including pieces on loan from the Hakone Open Air Museum.
The Tourist Information Center, JNTO is on Naka-dori, on the ground floor of the Shin-Tokyo Building and just a little along from the Burberry store where Naka-dori and Route 406 meet. English-speaking staff and English-language information is on hand for the visitor, as well as free internet and Wi-Fi. Look for the cows out front.
Japan National Tourism Organization Tourist Information Center
1st Fl, Shin-Tokyo Bldg.,
3-3-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo , 100-0005
Tel. 03 3201 3331
Hours: 9 am - 5 pm daily except Jan. 1
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 Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum opened in Marunouchi April 2010 and is a replica of the original brick Mitsubishi Ichigokan (i.e., "No.1 Building") designed by British architect Josiah Conder in 1894, that once stood here.
Brick Square is a freely accessible space partly enclosed by the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum building. It has a pleasant English-style garden with water features, outdoor seating, cafes and some statuary, including a Henry Moore. Brick Square is a tranquil, stylish spot to relax and chat in a garden environment. Its main domed entrance is on Naka-dori where it meets Route 406.
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.
Tokyo International Forum
Other places of interest in the Marunouchi area of Tokyo include the Tokyo International Forum, a convention center, concert venue and exhibition space, 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 foyer, which is a pleasant space to stop and relax in. The Tokyo International Forum is the venue for the Oedo Antique Market on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. The Oedo Antique Market is the largest outdoor antiques market in Japan and attracts over 250 stall holders and crowds in the thousands to view the ceramics, masks, furniture, tools, toys, kimono, obi and various bric a brac on display.
The grand old Imperial Theater (Teikoku Gekijo, in Japanese) is opposite the Imperial Palace and its moats. It was the first Western-style theatre in Japan, first built in 1911 on the present site. Its current form is its third, dating from 1966. The Imperial Theater stages both Japanese and Western productions and is a traditional big-theater venue.
The Idemitsu Museum of Arts is in the same building as the Imperial Theatre and 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.
Hotels in Marunouchi & Yaesu
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.
Recommended hotels in Marunouchi include the Marunouchi Hotel in the Oaza Building, the Metropolitan Hotel Marunouchi, very close to Tokyo Station and the deluxe Shangri-la Hotel. The luxury Peninsula Hotel has views onto the elegant Naka-dori shopping street, and the historic and opulent Imperial Hotel Tokyo overlooks Hibiya Park.
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.
Yaesu is on the other side of Tokyo Station. Big broad Yaesu-dori Avenue extends east from the station, intersecting with Chuo-dori and then Showa-dori. Check out the Bells of Peace, just before the intersection with Chuo-dori, that chime on the hour. While still home to much opulence, 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. Sakura-dori is four streets north of, and parallel to, Yaesu-dori Avenue.
Turn left up Chuo-dori and in less than 5 minutes you are in the Nihonbashi area. The 20-story 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.
Turn right down Chuo-dori and in about 10 minutes you are in Tokyo's ultimate luxury shopping area, Ginza.
Getting Around Marunouchi
Marunouchi, Yaesu and Nihonbashi are accessed from Tokyo Station (JR Yamanote 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.