May 27, 2009


Tokyo Station is one of the largest stations in the country and is located in the heart of the Marunouchi district. While Shinjuku and Ikebukuro handle more passengers each day, it is said that Tokyo Station is one of the world's busiest when it comes to the number of trains that pass through each day.

The original grand red-brick station building dates back almost a century to 1914, though most of it was destroyed in the fire bombings in 1945. Only the Marunouchi exit facade still remains of the old structure, and at the moment the station is in the process of being modernised and refurbished ~ a project that is due for completion next year. On the Marunouchi side, in addition to the restoration of the old facade, a broad plaza leading up to the Imperial Palace grounds is being constructed.

The New Marunouchi Building houses a lot of offices with the lower floors given over to fashionable boutiques and restaurants.

A short walk past the New Marunouchi Building brings you to Babasaki Moat and on the other side is the Wadakura Fountain Park, which must be a nice place to relax and escape from the office at lunchtime.

The greater part of the Imperial Palace Gardens are off-limits to the general public, and for the most part all you can see are the bridges and gates leading to the inner grounds, but what is impressive is the sheer scale of the premises. In fact the road that surrounds the Imperial Palace is a popular jogging route and a lap is about five kilometres.
Looking back from the Sakurada-mon section of the Imperial Palace grounds to the office blocks around the station.

Heading back along Babasaki Dori you pass the Meiji Seimei Building and the back half of Tokyo International Forum.
Whilst the area around the station may be filled with large office blocks and somewhat anonymous concrete and glass buildings, you will always find some older grubby-looking eateries in the shop units directly beneath the railway tracks. These izakayas and noodle shops no doubt do a roaring trade in the evening catering to tired salarymen on their way home.

And under the arches you can also find noodle stalls such as this one that only come to life after dark.
I crossed under the tracks to the Yaesu side and wandered around streets lined with yet more tall office blocks with few fascinating features. The ground floor of this building featured a big advertising feature starring Takuya Kimura of SMAP sporting an awful perm, yet he still remains one of the countries top heartthrobs.
The Kyobashi area is home to the National Film Center which screens films in thematic seasons, holds exhibitions and also houses an extensive cinema-related library. The recent Soviet-era silent movie poster exhibition here was superb.
Something I do every morning!
With the intense bombing at the end of World War Two, much of Tokyo's older architecture was destroyed and many of the parts that remained have either fallen into disrepair or have been replaced by newer modern buildings, so it's nice to occasionally come across some older buildings that give you and idea of what Tokyo might have looked like before the war, such as this building that is home to the upmarket grocers Meidi-Ya, who have been in business since the late nineteenth century.
It's not in every town or city you can find a fountain pen museum, but the pen company Pilot have both a museum and cafe in Kyobashi.
The station refurbishments have brought an improved shopping experience to passengers using Tokyo Station, with several fashionable shops selling food, drinks and gifts.

This part of Tokyo has very little to do with my own regular life or routines in the city, but it's interesting to see what this part of the city has to offer.

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