Traveling is a novel experience for those from out of town in Japan. Train systems connect much of Japan, allowing smooth transportation, and Tokyo Station stands out from the rest. One of Japan’s busiest stations, it is also a terminal for several Shinkansen bullet trains in the country.
The Central Station
As a fulfillment of the City Improvement Ordinance by the governor of Tokyo in 1889, two German engineers, Hermann Rumshottel and Franz Baltzer, drafted an outline for the construction of what we now know as the Tokyo Station. In 1903, the framework was then followed by Kingo Tatsuno, who was renowned for his design of the headquarters of Bank of Japan and for being the pillar of the Japanese modern architecture. Tatsuno, while following the layout, incorporated the initial plan with his distinctive features. Six years after its construction began in 1908, the station finally served its function, making the capital a more accessible hub to everyone.
Surely, after more than a century since it opened, the station has fulfilled that purpose as it gained its reputation as one of the largest and busiest train stations, aiding the travel need of over 450,000 passengers every day. With an area of 182,000 square meters, the station has 28 platforms that allow 4,000 trains to pick up and drop passengers each day.
Not only is the Tokyo Station an important aspect in Japan transportation, but it also houses the Zero Kilometer Sign, which marks the starting point of the Shinkansen lines, as well as a few other lines such as Tokaido, Chuo, and Tohoku. Since a great number of people pass through the station in a day, it has been a perfect location for the rise of several shops and restaurants, even an anime merchandise store and a hotel in one of its areas. One can get off from the train and find everything he might need in a single stop.
※ Tokyo Station City Website, Tokyo Station History, "History of Tokyo Station" p. 1 ※ Tokyo Station City Website, "Features of Tokyo Station"
Whether you are in Tokyo Station as a commuter or a leisure traveler, it has a wide array of available activities for you. If you are a tourist, you might not find the need to leave the place to spend your time and enjoy it. The station has its own gallery where you can directly go after you alight from the train. It is as though the building structure itself is not enough art for the people to see that even the gallery aims to connect people across all walks of life by featuring more art. The Tokyo Station Gallery is within the vicinity of the century-old building, located just outside of the North Exit. It hosts around five different art exhibits per year with contents, mostly modern art, that are generally wide-ranged in mediums used and topic.
If walking in the gallery exhausts you, fill yourself up in GRANSTA, which is one of the largest in-station shopping complexes in Japan. There, you can find not only gourmet restaurants and cafes, but also shops for souvenirs, clothes, and cosmetics.
Of course a trip to Japan will not be entirely complete without trying ramen, its famous noodle soup. The Tokyo Station has your back with its Tokyo Ramen Street, with eight famous restaurants having different specialties that you will even be hard pressed to choose the best one.
What is Japanese culture without their famous anime? If you are an otaku, there is a special place dedicated to you under the roof of the Tokyo Station. If you want to bring home with you anime merchandise, then the Tokyo Character Street is the one for you. It has more than thirty shops, selling merchandise of popular Japanese characters, anime, and manga such as Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and more.
The Tokyo Station is indeed a home to a great deal and combination of history, art, culture, and gastronomy that one can immerse in at a single drop-off.
Nearby Tourist Destinations
Being located in Marunouchi, a commercial district at the capital of Japan, the Tokyo Station serves as a doorway to numerous tourist attractions. One of which is the Marunouchi Brick Square, a shopping and dining center. Situated at the heart of the district, the square is like an escape from the tall buildings towering in the area. It boasts a small garden, a fountain, and an atmosphere all European in style. Beside it is the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, which displays 19th century western art.
Another neighboring landmark to the station is the Tokyo International Forum. It is Tokyo’s largest convention center that hosts concerts, exhibitions, musical performances, and other events. Its glass and steel architecture was designed by an Uruguayan, Rafael Viñoly, who took the shape of a boat as its inspiration. It houses eight halls and 34 rooms which are dotted with modern art by several artists like Francesco Clemente and Andy Warhol. With a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, it is also an ideal place for relaxation and meet ups.
After a 10-minute walk from the station, you can also come across the Tokyo Imperial Palace, where Japan’s Imperial Family resides. It is in the former location of the Edo Castle, a large park that is surrounded by moats and massive stone walls. Although the inner grounds are not open to the public except on January 2 and February 23, you can grasp a glimpse of the palace from Kokyo Gaien, a large plaza situated in front of it. From there, you will see what they call the Eyeglass Bridge, which forms an entrance to the palace’s inner grounds. Aside from that, there are also guided tours available throughout the year though no buildings are entered. Or you can stroll around the Imperial Palace East Gardens which on the other hand is open to the public.
The construction of the Tokyo Station did not only bring destinations closer, but also paved the way for the rise of more businesses in the district; therefore, cultivating a more wonderful and enjoyable experience for everyone who wishes to visit Japan. With the transportation, attractions, accommodation, activities, and restaurants all present in one place, it has become a complete package for one’s trip. You might not be sure what to visit, but one thing is definitely certain that Tokyo is within your reach all thanks to the century-old station.