In Hibiya, a New Tokyo Midtown Comes to Town

In Central Tokyo there can never be only one, especially when sprawling high-end shopping malls are concerned. When Tokyo Midtown opened just a stone’s throw away from Roppongi Hills in 2007, both places not only managed to coexist, but together they seemed to transform Roppongi from a dodgy nightlife hotspot into an elegant weekend hangout for the entire family overnight. Granted, there might have been other hands in play, and there probably still are some dodgy places in Roppongi, but the public image has been changed irreversibly, and the Hills and Midtown facilities are the most visible landmarks of that transformation.

Being home to the Imperial Palace, the Imperial Hotel and other monuments of Tokyo’s highlife, Hibiya is probably not as badly in need of a facelift as Roppongi was. The latest addition to what is now the Midtown brand, Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, stands tall (35 floors) in a neighborhood that already has been known for a certain amount of grandstanding. Historically it has also been known as a center of theater and dance (the Takarazuka Theater, the Tokyo home to Hyogo’s famous all-female performance group, is located right next to the new Midtown). The building’s curvy design, outside and inside, is intended as a reference to dancing. It is also a nice change from the original Midtown’s somewhat boxy look.

Only seven floors (six above ground, one below) are open to the public; the rest is office space. On the sixth floor shoppers and workers can mingle in an area called Base Q, composed of coffee spaces and conference rooms with splendid views of Hibiya Park. Two floors are reserved for the Toho Cinemas Hibiya multiplex – with 13 screens before 2,800 seats, it’s the biggest of its kind in central Tokyo. Its lobby showcases the popular Godzilla statue that used to adorn the square in front of the building, which recently got an updated version of the monster memorial. Many thought the cute original statue a bit too small considering its subject matter. The new one is bigger and badder, but frankly Hibiya’s Godzilla still has some room for growth. (It is billed as the biggest Godzilla statue “in Japan.” So there is a bigger one outside of Japan? How can that be!?)

The most intriguing blend of shopping, strolling, eating and drinking might be found on the third floor. (You can also find the Spanish restaurant Lubina on the second floor.) The Hibiya Central Market offers all kinds of beverages labeled “craft” as well as traditional Japanese pub food in a simulated izakaya. It’s probably the fakest izakaya experience available, but bright shiny lies can have their very own appeal. All this is served between books for sale, barbers and fashion boutiques without too many walls in between.

For more about Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, visit our Concierge listing

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