Tokyo's business districts shedding dull image

HIP STREET: Newlyweds having their photos taken on the transformed Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue.


    Jun 24, 2015

    Tokyo's business districts shedding dull image

    TOKYO'S Marunouchi, Otemachi and Yurakucho districts, located on the east side of Japan's Imperial Palace, can be described as the centre of the country's finance, information and transportation, where JR Tokyo Station and high-rise buildings are located.

    The business-oriented area is gradually changing to one with more colour, thanks to large-scale redevelopment in recent years. About 20 buildings were rebuilt in the past decade, and a number of buildings are under construction now.

    When I began working at The Yomiuri Shimbun headquarters building in Otemachi at the age of 23 in the 1970s, the area was an ordinary business district where buildings with height restrictions of about 30m stood in a row and office workers in dark suits could be seen everywhere.

    After 6pm, the city lights were extinguished and the streets were deserted. People who needed to work late at night visited food stalls in the area that stayed open until late. I remember how people sarcastically referred to the lights of such stalls as the "Otemachi Champs Elysee".

    Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue, which connects Yurakucho and Otemachi, has been transformed from a dull street into one of high fashion. Boutiques, cafes and restaurants line the street, with people flocking to a popular museum nearby.

    On weekends, one can sometimes witness young couples who have just got married having commemorative photos taken along the avenue.

    Last year, Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue won Japan's Good Design Award for the second time.

    "During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, people around the world will visit this place," said Atsuhiko Kinjo, 53, chief of secretariat of the Council for Area Development and Management of Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho.

    "We'd like to make the area a wonderful place where tourists and people working here can have a great and memorable time," he said.