The West Side of Tokyo Station
Marunouchi is a business district stretching between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace, in the central Chiyoda ward in Japan. The area is favored by shopping lovers and renowned for its skyline made of hotels, restaurants and numerous office buildings.
Marunouchi used to be part of the Imperial Palace’s protective enclosure. Several feudal lords settled their residences there until the end of Edo Period (1603–1868). Two main activities characterize Marunouchi district nowadays:
- Business, Marunouchi being Tokyo and Japan’s economic and financial hub;
- Shopping, with numerous shopping malls and various galleries.
The most famous attraction in Marunouchi is probably the west exit of Tokyo Station, inaugurated in 1914, and recently renovated. Initially designed by Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo, the station’s red brick façade is inspired from Amsterdam’s station. The contrast between the old-fashioned style of the station and the surrounding steel and glass buildings is striking. The same architectural style was used for the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum. Formerly home to the Mitsubishi Company headquarters, the building opened to the public in 2010 as a Western arts museum. The collection includes paintings dating back to the 19th century, and signed by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Picasso.
Observation decks on Tokyo Station's red brick building
Marunouchi occupies a limited area between the Imperial Palace and its gardens to the northwest, and the Chuo ward to the southeast. Near the station stand two ideal outdoor observation places, of which access is free:
- The first observatory can be found turning left when exiting the station (south side), at the top floor of Kitte Marunouchi shopping mall;
- The second observation deck is located on Shin-Marunouchi Building’s seven’s floor, with a lovely terrace to have a rest and a little drink.
Naka-dori, the main street of Marunouchi
A couple hundred meters farther is Naka-dori, Marunouchi’s central avenue, linking the district to Yurakucho, about one kilometer away. The large paved street lined up with trees invites to a stroll along the refined windows of classy shops. Naka-dori became a reference address for luxury amateurs, almost as much as the great avenues of Ginza and Omotesando. Its architecture was thoroughly designed to avoid any big neon sign or electric cable. The trees, carefully aligned on each side of the sidewalk, fit perfectly in the street and provide freshness in summer and some calm amidst the bustling city. It is even possible to take a rest on one of the benches in the street. There are also a couple of elegant contemporary artworks, exposed outdoor.
Halfway down the street, a lovely courtyard is located behind the Marunouchi Brick Square shopping mall. High-end Japanese customers are fond of those shops with French sounding names, as attests the queue waiting before Joel Robuchon café, or Echirée Shop, which sells refined pastries made from fermented butter.
From mid-November to mid-February each night at sunset, Naka-dori avenue hosts its own winter illumination. The 220 trees are decorated with thousands of champagne gold colored LED lights, adding a glamourous touch to this modern and sophisticated district.