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Writer:Yuta Sakaguchi

Hi, I’m Yuta. I grew up and live in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo. I once lived in Kichijoji, located in the western part of Tokyo. I love walking around a street and taking pictures. On my article I introduce attractions mainly of Tokyo with many wonderful pictures. Please enjoy them!

Yurakucho: a mixture of new and old Tokyo

January 25, 2015

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Gado-shita (below the girder)

Outline

Yurakucho is a shopping district adjacent to Marunouchi and Ginza. Going south on Naka Dori Street, you can reach there. You can enjoy contemporary and neat Tokyo, such as the Tokyo International Forum and the redeveloped buildings at the east side of Yurakucho station. There are commercial facilities that have the advantage of fashions at the east side of the station, such as Hankyu MEN'S TOKYO, LUMINE and MARUI. On the other hand, you can also enjoy miscellaneous and common Tokyo, such as Japanese taverns at an area called Gado-shita (below the girder) including Yakitori Alley. Yurakucho is a very interesting area where various aspects of Tokyo can be seen. By the way, the boundaries between Yurakucho and Marunouchi or Hibiya are indefinite, so I introduce the area along Naka Dori Street on an article of Marunouchi, and Nissay Theatre and the Imperial Hotel on an article of Hibiya.

History

In the Edo period (1603 - 1868), Minami-machi bugyosho (magistrate's office) was located at Yurakucho. Tadasuke OOKA and Kagemoto TOYAMA who were the magistrates, often appear in historical plays and be familiar to many Japanese people. It is said that the name “Yurakucho” derives from the name of Urakusai ODA, who was a younger brother of Nobunaga ODA, a hero in the Sengoku period (1467 - 1590) and built his residence near there. However that is not certain. From the Meiji period to the pre-war period (1868 - 1945), theaters and offices of newspaper companies were built around there. Also the Tokyo Prefectural office (corresponding to the present Tokyo Metropolitan Government office) was once located. Immediately after the World War , there was a black market called Sushiya Yokocho and it got very lively. However those stores were removed and Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan was build at the place in 1965. The offices of newspaper companies in Yurakucho had been moved gradually and the area have developed as a shopping district, for example Sogo, a major department store was opened in 1957 (Now Bic Camera operates). The redevelopment in front of the station also proceeded, and Yurakucho Marion was opened in 1984 and Yurakucho Itocia in 2007. Movie theaters are housed in Yurakucho Marion, which have a trace of the theater district. By the way some theaters still remain in Hibiya adjacent to Yurakucho. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government office was moved to Shinjuku in 1991 and the Tokyo International Forum was built at the site.

The Tokyo International Forum

The Tokyo International Forum is an international convention hall, which was designed by Rafael Violy and completed in 1997. Grass Building is architecture on the theme of a ship, which features the faade covered with glass and the inside where the building frames are exposed. It is one of representative contemporary buildings in Tokyo.
http://www.t-i-forum.co.jp/en/


The Tokyo International Forum

Commercial facilities

Yurakucho Marion houses LUMINE, which is mainly for women in their 20's and 30's and has the advantage of fashions, and Hankyu MEN'S TOKYO, a facility specialized for men’s fashions which is for businessmen and tourists from Japan and abroad and handles luxury brands. Yurakucho Itocia includes MARUI, which is for women in their 20's and 30's and specialized for fashions. By the way LUMINE and MARUI are also opened near major stations in Tokyo Metropolitan area.
http://www.lumine.ne.jp/pdfguide/yurakucho_f.pdf
http://www.hankyu-dept.co.jp/mens-tokyo/english/
http://www.0101.co.jp.e.ex.hp.transer.com/stores/guide/store860.html?from=01_pc_top_gn


The east of Yurakucho station


Yurakucho Marion

Non redeveloped area

At the east of Yurakucho station, there remains an area that has not been redeveloped. Hyakkaen, a fruiter founded in 1954 are opened there and its cut fruit is popular. Such a gap may be one of the features of Tokyo.


Hyakkaen

Gado-shita and Yakitori Alley

Many people might walk around Yurakucho on their way to Marunouchi or Ginza. What contrasts with those areas that have a sophisticated atmosphere is an area called Gado-shita (below the girder) including Yakitori Alley. Gado-shita represents spaces under or on the side of a girder bridge from Tokyo station to Shinbashi station via Yurakucho station. A red brick arch bridge was built in 1910 and after that railways were laid along this bridge and then the girder bridge became its present form. The Shinkansen also passes the girder bridge. The western section of the girder bridge is the red brick arch bridge and the side of it (the space under the arch) is used for a restaurant or an office. This is the same with the east side of the girder bridge. In addition there are narrow paths under the added section of the girder bridge and these paths are full of various restaurants and offices.


The red brick arch bridge

Yurakucho Koka-shita Center Shotenkai (Yurakucho Center Shopping Street under the girder bridge) is located between Yurakucho station and Tokyo station, and some restaurants are opened. At left-hand side of the street as seen by Yurakucho station there is a section called Marusan Yokocho. Japanese taverns are opened in narrow space and it has a unique atmosphere. Yurakucho Concourse along Harumi Street is interesting with signboards and posters in the Showa period (1926 - 1989) though it is a short section.


Yurakucho Koka-shita Center Shotenkai


Marusan Yokocho


Yurakucho Concourse

Yakitori Alley is an area located at the south side of Harumi Street and the east of the girder bride, and many yakitori-ya (grilled chicken restaurants) are opened there. They have seats on the terrace, so you can enjoy alcohols and yakitori (grilled chikien) with an open air. It is the most famous spot in Gado-shita.


Yakitori Alley

There are also some Japanese taverns in a section under the girder bridge from the south side of Yakitori Alley to the street on the north side of the Imperial Hotel. Especially the south of the section is called Yurakucho Sanchoku Inshokugai and Japanese taverns that deal with ingredients from various areas in Japan gather.


Yurakucho Sanchoku Inshokugai

In the further south, Nishiginza JR Center and International Arcade are located under the girder bridge. In Nishiginza JR Center there are a few stores opened and the place is in a weird atmosphere. International Arcade is a shopping street, which was opened for foreign tourists in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games held in 1964. The east side of the girder bridge is called Ginza Corridor Street and there are various restaurants, which are ordinary ones unlike other spots of Gado-shita.
Gado-shita is an area that still retains some good traces of the Showa period and a relaxing place where office workers nearby cure their fatigue at work.

Yurakucho is a unique town where the latest part of Tokyo and some good traces of the Showa period are mixed. One who goes Tokyo should visit there.


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