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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!

Ochanomizu: a town having many historical buildings

February 4, 2015

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Tsukijibei (roofed mud walls) surrounding Yushima Seido


I would like to introduce an area around Ocahnomizu station mainly on this article. Ochanomizu has many historical buildings including famous spots such as Kanda Myojin Shrine, Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima) and St. Nicholas Church. It is a student town where many universities and preparatory schools gather and also known as a town packed with music stores. The main attractions are Kanda Myojin Shrine, Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima), St. Nicholas Church, the main building of the Hilltop Hotel, the residence of TAKAHATA, Nihon University Ochanomizu Campus, Imasa (the former store and main house of Endo family) and so on. In addition the view of Ochanomizu station with the Kanda River, Hijiribashi Bridge and railway vehicles is representative scenery of Ochanomizu.

A scenery of the town

A sidewalk in the front of Meiji University

Ochanomizu station

The Kanda River (you can see Hijiribashi Bridge over there)


In the Edo period (1603 - 1868), there were many Daimyo Yachiki (the residences of a feudal lord) and Buke Yashiki (that of a samurai) in Ochanomizu. “Suruga” of Kanda Surugadai, the name of the place on the south side of Ochanomizu station, is a former name of the eastern part of Shizuoka prefecture. It is derived from the fact that many samurai from Suruga lived there. It was once located at the south end of Mt. Kanda and adjoined Hongo and Yushima on the north. However Mt. Kanda was excavated for reclaiming Hibiya inlet and also Kanda River, an artificial river was built, so the present landscape was formed. Ochanomizu means water used for making tea and it is derived from the fact that a Shogun (a leader of samurai) was impressed by tea made using water flowing out in a garden of a temple nearby when he stopped by the temple on his way from falconry. In the Meiji period (1868 - 1912) the residences was changed to those of the peerage and businessmen. Since the 1880s famous universities such as Meiji University, Nihon University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, etc. and Sundai Preparatory School, a major one have been opened, so Ochanomizu has developed as a student town while its role as a residential area has diminished. An antiquarian bookstore area in Kanda Jinbocho was formed in the 1880s in line with the opening of the universities. In recent years redevelopment has proceeded and it attracts attention as a business district.

Kanda Myojin Shrine

Zuijinmon Gate of Kanda Myojin Shrine

Kanda Myojin Shrine is one of the representative shrines in Tokyo. The shrine has a long history, which was established in 730.  Vermilion-lacquered main shrine and Zuijinmon Gate are must-see spots. The enshrined deities are Onamuchi no mikoto (Okuninushi), Sukunahikona no Mikoto and TAIRA no Masakado. The shrine was moved to the present site in 1616. In the Edo period it was highly respected by Edo Bakufu (Shogunate government) and since then it has been familiar to the people in the area around the shrine as the Edo Sochinju (the center place to pray for local gods). It is known as a shrine that benefits games because Ieyasu Tokugawa who later became the ruler of Japan played for victory at the shrine and won the Battle of Sekigahara, which was to decide who would rule Japan. Onamuchi no mikoto, one of the enshrined deities is also a deity of Izumo Taisha Shrine and is considered as a god of marriage. Sukunahikona no Mikoto is called Ebisu-sama and believed to grant prosperous business. Therefore there are many companies whose managers or all staff visit the shrine for Hatsumode (the practice of visiting a shrine or temple at the beginning of the New Year). I heard that the shrine appears in an anime called “Love Live!” and is familiar to the fan in recent years. The Grand Festival of Kanda Matsuri (Kanda Festival), which is held once every two years, is one of Three Major Festivals in Edo (present Tokyo) and Japan. The festival is actively celebrated.



Imasa (the former store and main house of Endo family) is adjacent to Kanda Myojin Shrine. Endo family has run a lumber business since the Edo period. The building is a Japanese house, which was built on the west side of Kanda station in 1927 and moved to the site. Now it is used as a facility with the goal of contributing to the succession of the culture of the Edo period. A caf is also opened from 11:30 to 16:00 on weekdays.

Yushima Seido

Taiseiden of Yushima Seido

Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima) is a mausoleum enshrining Confucius, the founders of Confucianism in China, which was established by Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA in 1690. It was built with a school based on the principles of Confucianism. During the Edo period Confucianism became popular especially among samurais, the governing class of the time. In 1797 Shoheizaka Gakumonjo (Shoheizaka School), which was under the direct control of the Edo bakufu, was established at the site. It was led to Tokyo University later. The main buildings were burnt in the Great Kanto Earthquake and rebuilt in 1935. Buildings such as Taiseiden, Kyodanmon Gate and Nyutokumon Gate are black lacquered and have a lot of impact, so they are worth seeing. There is rich greenery at the site and it has a relaxing atmosphere. Also Tsukijibei (roofed mud walls) surrounding the site is tastefully and creates wonderful scenery.

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church is a cathedral of the Orthodox Church in Japan and its formal name is Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral. The basic design was worked out by Michael A. Shchurupov and the detailed design was Josiah Conder who also designed the Mitsubishi Ichigokan. It is Byzantine style church architecture, which was built in 1891, and features the dome-like roofs. It was damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake, but it was restored from 1927 to 1929 and designated as a national important cultural property later.

By the way “Hijiri” of Hijiribashi Bridge over the Kanda River, which is near Ochanomizu station, means holy in Japanese and the name derives from two holy places, Yushima Seido and St. Nicholas Church, which the bridge connects. Hijiribashi Bridge was designed by Mamoru YAMADA and completed in 1927 after the Great Kanto Earthquake. It is an arch bridge of ferroconcrete and a symbol of Ochanomizu.

"中央線と聖橋". Licensed under 利用許諾済 via Wikipedia.

The main building of the Hilltop Hotel

The main building of the Hilltop Hotel

The main building of the Hilltop Hotel was designed by William Merrell Vories and completed in 1936. The hotel opened a business in 1954. It features its Art Deco style appearance. It doesn’t attract notice so much but its calm atmosphere is nice. It is known that the hotel was used by celebrated writers such as Yasunari KAWABATA and Yukio MISHIMA.

The residence of TAKAHATA

The residence of TAKAHATA

The residence of TAKAHATA is a Japanese house, which was built in about 1930. It is said that it was a residence of an officer of Isetan department store. It draws attention because a fine Japanese house surrounded by a stonewall and a fence appears suddenly in a building area. Though Ochanomizu has developed as a student town in these days, it was also a high-class residential area at the time and the residence of TAKAHATA is a valuable building, which preserves the appearance of the time.

Nihon University Ochanomizu Campus

Nihon University Ochanomizu Campus

Nihon University Ochanomizu Campus was designed by William Merrell Vories and completed in 1925. The terracotta decoration attracts attention. It was used as an office building of a publishing company at the time of its completion. In 1987 it was rebuilt as Ochanomizu Square, which was designed by Arata ISOZAKI and retains the appearance. It was a complex facility including a concert hall called Casals Hall. Now it is used as the campus of Nihon University.

Historical attractions dot Ochanomizu. It is very fun to walk around the town.


Kanda Myojin Shrine

Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima)