Historic Maronouchi is a commercial district most famous for Tokyo Station and the nearby gardens of the imperial palace. In recent years huge developments have transformed the area into one of the capital’s top addresses for businesses, with three of Japan’s leading banks located here. In fact, nearly a quarter of Japan’s GDP is generated in this area. But step away from the business district and the surrounding streets contain some of the finest up-market stores in Tokyo. A short walk puts you within reach of some of the city’s best large parks and open spaces.
Japan’s busiest (and perhaps most historic) station opened in 1914. The building was rumored to be modeled on Amsterdam’s Central Station and is located immediately in front of the gardens of the imperial palace. The architect Tasumo Kingo also designed the nearby Bank of Japan building. A gruesome fact is that in 1921, the unfortunate former Prime Minister Takashi Hara was assassinated by a gunman at the south gates. The area today has seen enormous changes, so it is unusual that such a historic building continues to survive. The current renovation project is due to be completed in 2010, when improved access will unite the new with the old.
La Boutique de Joël Robuchon
Located in the trendy Maronouchi Brick Square building alongside a raft of shops and restaurants, the bakery of world renowned French chef Joël Robuchon sells a wonderful selection of homemade croissants, pastries and cakes, all baked fresh on the spot. The takeout selection of macaroons and fruit jams is a cut above most bakeries in Tokyo and definitely worth a look.
2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
Arguably the best bookstore in Tokyo. The large foreign language section contains wide selections of US and European magazines, numerous business texts, shelves of classics, quality art and design titles, and of course extensive books on Japan and learning Japanese. The store also houses a coffee shop and some really creative stationary and gifts that offer an unusual look at Japan’s artistic side.
1-6-4 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
by Christopher Jones