mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
A Former Train Station Converted in a Shopping Center
mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi is a shopping center located halfway between Ochanomizu and Kanda stations, in Chiyoda ward, and a stone throw away from Akihabara in Tokyo. The red brick arches now sheltering shops have had several lives. Initially, Manseibashi was a train station on the Chuo Line, before becoming a museum. After a thorough renovation, it was finally repurposed in a trendy shopping mall.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Manseibashi Station could be considered a counterpart of Tokyo’s station, the other growing railway station in the capital. The station started operating in April 1912, following the nationalization and the extension of one of Kobu company’s railway. It was designed by architect Tatsuno Kingo, who took inspiration from Amsterdam’s central station. The same architect would build the famous Tokyo Station two years later, still influenced by European architecture.
The unique fate of Manseibashi Station
Manseibashi was the eastern terminus of Chuo main line until 1919, March 1rst, when the line was extended up to the newly opened Kanda station. The original building was unfortunately destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, that also stopped the station’s expansion. Another, smaller station was rebuilt, in the same style.
However, the number of passengers gradually declined and consequently the station’s activities, which led to the decision to repurpose the place as a railway museum from 1936. The station disappeared and ceased operation in 1943. The museum was still in activity until 2006, then it was transferred to the neighboring prefecture of Saitama.
Finally, the 2012 renewal project has exploited the beautiful arch structures to create a new shopping space. This site, with historical, industrial, and contemporary features has reopened to the public in 2013. Inside the shopping center, the former station’s cast iron structures are visible from places to places under the cement vault.
Gourmet break and window shopping under the railways
Hitachino Brewing Lab., that offers original craft beers brewed on site, welcome visitors at mAAch ecute’s main entrance. The owner is happy to present the different steps of brewery as well as the selecting process of the ingredients. It is a pleasure to stop by this splendid vaulted room.
The wooden Open Deck is an outdoor promenade above Kanda River and along mAAch ecute. It is the perfect point of view to have on the red brick arches on the top of which trains 🚅 are still operating. The center of the shopping mall has been arranged in a space to display the history of the site, with a small model of the former buildings and a bookshop that sells related books.
Two original stairways from 1912 and 1935 give access to the upper floor. The renovation allowed to reopen them - they had not been used by the public since the station closed – and offers a travel back in time. At the top of the building, a glassed space, formerly Manseibashi’s platforms, offer an observation deck on the railways that are still in use. A restaurant benefits from the charming view to entertain its clients with the ballet of trains operating at only a few meters away from the glass wall.
The overall atmosphere in mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi is chic and relaxed. The purist style of the shops matches the industrial characteristics of the place. The visit is particularly enjoyable on weekdays, as the attendance is low, which is noteworthy considering how frenzy and crowded a trendy area can be in Tokyo. It is an original address that gives a new life to an ancient place in mixing shopping and historical architecture visits, and that can be of interest for those who explore the surroundings of Kanda.