Nihonbashi was the terminal point for the Edo Five Routes, routes that connected Tokyo to other parts of the country, and during the Edo Period (1603-1868) the area flourished as a merchant area. It continues to be a charming area where Edo elegance and modern innovation come together. Here are some recommended spots to check out in Nihonbashi.
- 1. Enjoy modern architecture such as Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Branch Main Building and Mitsui Honkan
- 2. Tour the Bank of Japan Headquarters
- 3. Check out the Nihonbashi area from the water via a Nihonbashi cruise
- 4. Experience Japanese culture
- 5. Enjoy eating while walking in Amazake Yokocho
1. Enjoy modern architecture such as Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Branch Main Building and Mitsui Honkan
Nihonbashi, an area that flourished as a castle town focusing on business and culture during the Edo shogunate, has been the financial heart of Japan with many major financial institutions grouped there since the end of the 19th century. Around Nihonbashi still remain plenty of buildings built in the modern architecture style from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century. There are two buildings you should particularly check out: the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Branch Main Building (completed in 1914, altered between 1927-1935), which was built with a Renaissance-style facade, plenty of marble, and crowned with art deco-style decorations, as well as the Mitsui Honkan (completed in 1929), an American-style neoclassical building designed with the motto of "splendor, grace, and simplicity." These buildings are recognized for the loveliness and history in their design, and are designated national important cultural properties.
Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Branch Chuo Hall
2. Tour the Bank of Japan Headquarters
This is Japan's first genuine stone building. It was modeled after Belgium's central bank and took roughly five and a half years to build until it was finally completed in 1896. There are 3 floors and a basement in the main building that's built with stone bricks, with the whole building representing the Neo-Baroque style while the pillars and dome are built in the Baroque fashion. The systematically lined-up windows use the Renaissance style. The architect behind this design was Tatsuno Kingo (1854-1919), a man called the father of Japanese modern architecture and who also designed Tokyo Station. Appropriate of the first national architecture project, this building was created with the latest technology and equipment of the time. If you make a prior reservation, you can take a tour of the main building, which was one of the first modern architecture buildings to be designated as an important national cultural artifact. Please check out this famous building that had the dignity of Japan taking the first step into becoming a modern nation riding on its shoulders.
*English tour available every Tuesday at 2:30 pm until 3:40 pm (reservations required)
The facade of the Bank of Japan Headquarters
The courtyard of the Bank of Japan Headquarters
3. Check out the Nihonbashi area from the water via a Nihonbashi cruise
The current bridge at Nihonbashi is the 20th, and was built in 1911. You can enjoy a cruise around Nihonbashi from Nihonbashi Pier, built in 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the bridge's completion. Nihonbashi has various rivers connecting around it, including Nihonbashi River, Kanda River, and the Sumida River, so there are various cruise courses, but the most recommended one is the Nihonbashi - Kanda River Cruise that goes around all three of them in one go. It's a 90 minute course with plenty of Edo sights to enjoy, including bridges such as Nihonbashi, Tokiwabashi, Hijiribashi, Manseibashi, and Yanagibashi, as well as the rock wall that remains of Edo Castle, the lush Ochanomizu Valley, and the townscapes of Akihabara and Asakusabashi.
4. Experience Japanese culture
There are plenty of places to casually experience Japanese culture in Nihonbashi. The Nihonbashi Information Center in COREDO Muromachi has information about events and sightseeing spots in Nihonbashi as well as recommended products and workshops available in stores that have their main branches in the area. They also have various tours and plans aimed towards foreign tourists, including Japanese eating tours, kimono experiences, dinner parties with geisha, or making your own original seal (hanko). Please experience Japanese traditional culture and crafts and make memories throughout your trip.
Prior reservation or application is necessary for participating in these plans or tours. Please check on the official homepage.
Photo is for illustration purposes.
5. Enjoy eating while walking in Amazake Yokocho
Amazake Yokocho is a small road of about 400m between Amazake Yokocho Crossing and Meijiza, right by Ningyocho Station. The name comes from there being an amazake (sweet drink made from fermented rice that has little to no alcohol) shop right by the entrance of the alley (yokocho) in the beginning of the Meiji period (end of the 19th century), and now has around 70 famous and/or well-established shops lining the street. There are plenty of shops where you can enjoy various types of cuisine here, including the one of the big three taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry with filling) shops in Tokyo, Ningyocho Yanagiya; a tofu shop that sells not only different kinds of tofu but also sweets like soy milk doughnuts and soy milk soft serve ice cream, Tofu no Futaba; a ningyoyaki (face-shaped pastry) shop with more than 100 years of history, Ningyoyaki Honpo Itakuraya, and more. Please take a nice walk around and try them!
Nihonbashi has plenty of charms that continue to fascinate people, since it is an area that manages to keep traces of ancient Japan alive as it continues to evolve and modernize. Please discover the charms of Nihonbashi for yourself.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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