If you had to mark the heart of Tokyo, and thus the heart of Japan, a strong case could be made for Nihombashi. In 1601 construction began on five routes that would ultimately connect the country and help the shogun maintain control over the outer provinces. The starting point of all five routes and thus the point from which all distances were measured was Nihombashi. Its position as Japan’s intersection had a profound effect on the development of the area: as the natural gathering point for merchants and travelers, commercial enterprises took root and Nihombashi began to play an increasingly important role in the spread of culture. In Japan, all roads truly do lead to Nihombashi.
Today is it home to the central bank, Mitsukoshi department store, and many traditional shops, some of which have existed for centuries. The bridge itself (Nihombashi means “Japan bridge”) has been lost many times to the fires which have devastated the city over the centuries. The structure you see today has stood since 1911, having miraculously survived the air raids of the war. You can see a reconstruction of the original Nihombashi Bridge at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku.
Sightseeing / Shopping
One of Tokyo’s most important historical structures and arguably the center of Japan. See here for more details.
The flagship store of Japan’s oldest department chain (dating back to 1673) is to Tokyo what Harrods is to London or Bloomingdale’s is to New York. Standing since 1935, Mitsukoshi is also one of the oldest buildings in the area.
- Directions. 1-4-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8001 | Exit A5 of Mitsukoshi-mae Station. Google Maps
- Hours. Shops 10:30-19:30 / Restaurants 11:00-22:00
Coredo Muromachi is a shopping complex made up of three buildings (Coredo Muromachi and Coredo Muromachi 2 & 3) that contain a multitude of restaurants, shops, and a cinema. Despite its modern facade, the Coredo Muromachi building contains some of Japan’s oldest traditional stores and is an excellent place to shop for high quality Japanese souvenirs and gifts. The Nihombashi Information Center is also located on level B1. You can download their guide to Nihombashi here (scroll to the bottom of the page for the link).
Directions. 2-2-1 Nihombashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0022. Google Maps
Museums / Art Galleries
The museum houses the collections of the Mitsui family and Mitsui Group, one of the most powerful zaibatsu in Japan. The museum was formerly located in Nakano Ward, but moved to Nihombashi—an area to which the Mitsui Group more generally…
A museum exhibiting kites from Japan, Asia, and some European countries. The museum occupies the 5th floor of TAIMEIKEN, a well-known restaurant, located in downtown Tokyo. Shingo Modegi, the former owner of the restaurant below, was a kite enthusiast, founding…