Designed by renowned architect Tatsuno Kingo and completed in 1914, Tokyo Station was designed as a grand entryway into the imperial capital. The iconic building maintains that role today, with more than 3,000 trains rolling in and out every day – the most in Japan. While there are plenty of attractions inside the station itself, the surrounding neighborhoods are well worth exploring.
Shopping in Marunouchi
Marunouchi is, quite frankly, a beautiful, elegant and peaceful urban sanctuary perfect for weekend strolls, shopping and top-end dining options. Naka Dori, Marunouchi’s main boulevard, is a tree-lined oasis packed full of luxury retail ventures such as Comme des Garcons, Beams and Wilde Life Tailors where stylish gents head for a bespoke suit, Alden shoes and a haircut.
The street also hosts The Peninsula Tokyo hotel, Marunouchi Building, Shin Marunouchi Building (both superb multi-level retail and dining spaces), Brick Square and Tomorrowland – one of Japan’s most revered multi-brand fashion stores for both men and women.
Marunouchi is also great for food and drinks. Head to Brasserie Aux Amis for steak frites and well-sourced wine.
Indian Cuisine in Kyobashi
Kyobashi is really just a slither of an area. Just a few streets or blocks. It does, however, host some of the most superb Indian cuisine in the capital. The glorious Dhaba India is just about the most perfect homage to southern Indian food in Japan. With roti, curry and an eclectic menu representing southern Indian food in all its glory, it’s the culinary angel of this area and worth anybody’s time. Best to get there early as there are always queues. The revered Dakshin (Yaesu Branch) is just a few steps across the road and is also known as one of the best Indian restaurants in Tokyo.
Dining at Tokyo Station
The newly renovated Tokyo Station, which wouldn’t look out of place in the British cities of Manchester or Liverpool, is a truly majestic piece of architecture. Proud and spellbinding it has been lovingly restored to its natural beauty in the past few years. Inside the station (at the shinkansen areas) are a plethora of souvenir and bento and food options (check out Tokyo Station’s Ramen Street) including a healthy variety of vegetarian and vegan options – which would seem outrageous only a few years ago. It appears that the station vendors have managed to embrace these lifestyle choices in time for the 2020 Olympics and beyond.
Take a Walk Through Hibiya
Just a few minutes stroll from Tokyo Station you’ll find Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace. The park is a lovely getaway from the packed station and streets nearby and regularly plays host to an annual Oktoberfest beer festival and gigs (at the park’s amphitheatre) by various domestic and international musicians. It also hosts the yearly Africa Festival and a multitude of other cultural festivals which are all worth attending.
Nearby the park is the Imperial Palace which is the official home of the Japanese royal family and the Japanese version of Buckingham Palace. It’s a beautiful part of town and the area marked around the palace has been used as a well known running route. The area of Hibiya also includes the newish Tokyo Midtown Hibiya retail complex, which has a great array of retail options such as A.P.C. and Mastermind (fashion) and some pleasant culinary choices.
Find Something to Read at Maruzen
Just a few yards from Tokyo Station Marunouchi exit is the Marunouchi Oazo complex. Naturally, there is a selection of food and shopping options but crucially, for visitors or travelers, a well-stocked Maruzen bookstore that occupied the first to fourth floors.
The fourth floor hosts the comprehensive English-language section and has a variety of English novels (new additions and classics), non-fiction titles, magazines and guide books as well as stationery and journals. It’s the perfect spot for an hour stroll prior to boarding a shinkansen from Tokyo Station.
Sip on Superb Craft Beer
About 10 years ago craft beer pubs began to sprout all over the city with many experts speculating that the boom wouldn’t last. Well, they have been proven wrong. It’s an industry which keeps growing and around Tokyo Station you’ll find some beauties.
With a few locations nearby the station and Ginza is iBrew. Vibrant and compact these bars have a healthy amount of Japanese craft beers from all over the country and quality bar food. Another well recommended option is Swan Lake Pub which is the flagship of Niigata-based brewery Swan Lake which produces one of the best craft beers on the planet – the glorious Fujizakura Kogen.
Explore Japanese Culture at World-class Museums
Try the wonderful Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Idemitsu Museum of Arts and Tokyo Station Gallery for a more cultural taste of the Tokyo Station area. All the aforementioned spaces host some brilliant exhibitions of domestic and international artists and have put the Marunouchi district, quite rightfully, on the map for being one of the capital’s cultural hubs.
Feature image: skyearth / Shutterstock.com