Nihonbashi which has been depicted in ukiyo-e has developed into Japan’s financial district.

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Nihonbashi has been Japan’s premier economic center since the Edo Era. While stores of long standing continue to thrive, new establishments have appeared, and the area has become even more notable for bringing together the modern and the traditional.
Nihombashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

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Nihonbashi, the commercial center of the Edo Era

There is a painting known as “Edo Nihonbashi” which was painted by Edo Era ukiyo-e painter Hiroshige Utagawa that has survived all these years. The vista of that time 200 years ago has completely changed, but the lively atmosphere of Edo (now Tokyo) still lives on in the venerable shops, department stores and even in the new commercial facilities, so that Nihonbashi can continue to boast about itself as the thriving Edo center of business. When the Edo shogunate first started at the beginning of the 17th century, the residential palace of the shogun known as Edo Castle became the center of a town which was built up around it in which merchants and regular citizens came to reside. This vicinity became Nihonbashi. Nihonbashi not only became a town of tradesmen and artisans but since roads to the rest of Japan began here, people from the various regions bustled in and out of the area which became very active with regional products being bought and sold. In this area, there are many long-established stores that have continued since the founding of the Edo Era. Also, with Japanese banks, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and other megabanks in the area, Nihonbashi has become famous as a financial district. At the same time, the Coredo Muromachi, which has become the newest landmark of the area, is continuing on the legacy of Edo activity combining the old and the new.

Strolling through Nihonbashi

The prime highlight of Nihonbashi is Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge) itself, an Important Cultural Property which has continued to be the symbol of the area since its construction in 1603. At the time of its opening, it was a large wooden semi-circular bridge that looked as if it should belong in a ukiyo-e (currently, a replica of the original bridge is exhibited at the Edo-Tokyo Museum). Afterwards, the bridge was repeatedly rebuilt over the ages, and its current form which was built in 1911 is of a double-arched stone design. It is protected by statues of lions and winged Chinese dragons positioned there. For the statues of the dragons, they were built incorporating the meaning of opening their wings to signify that the paths to the rest of the Japan began from the bridge. There is a harbor at Nihonbashi so since boats depart and arrive there, you can also enjoy sightseeing cruises.  Another highlight is the eye-catching Mitsui Honkan (Main Building), a significant structure when it comes to Western architecture. Designed by James Stewart of the architectural firm Trowbridge & Livingston in 1902, it has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. On the 7th floor, there is the Mitsui Memorial Museum which displays exhibits such as the art collection of the Mitsui family whose themes change from time to time (The days that the museum is not open are not fixed so prior confirmation will be necessary.

Please check the English homepage Mitsui Memorial Museum

Furthermore, since it is the financial district, sightseeing of the Japanese banks is possible, but prior reservations are necessary so it is difficult to just barge on in. However, across from the bank buildings, there is the Currency Museum for the Bank of Japan which can be entered free of admission, so if you have an interest in currency, please feel free to visit. There is a very interesting collection on display of ancient oval Japanese coins and the world’s currencies.

Shopping in the town of Edo merchants

There are many established shops of long standing from the Edo Era in Nihonbashi. The department store Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi developed as a dry goods store founded in the Edo Era. A number of shops from that age still remain such as the Japanese paper goods store Haibara, Ibasen which deals in folding fans, the antique shop Ebiya Bijutsu, and stores that sell lacquerware, brushes and cutlery. There are nothing but small articles and household goods exhibiting the high quality of Edo culture that last for life. Also of note is Nihonbashi’s new commercial complex of Coredo Muromachi that was opened in 2014. At Coredo Muromachi, which has the concept of “creating while lasting and reviving”, select products and foods of high quality from all over Japan are offered. There are also many restaurants including those for Japanese and Western cuisines, cafes, bars, ramen and sushi shops which have an attractively wide range of variety.

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From Shinjuku Station to Nihonbashi Station:
Take the Marunouchi Line to Akasakamitsuke Station, change trains to the Ginza Line to Nihonbashi Station (19 minutes, ¥200)

From Tokyo Station to Nihonbashi:
From Tokyo Station walk to the exit marked Nihonbashi Exit, this will take you out directly into the Nihonbashi area.

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9 years ago
The place I call home
So in my research of places to stay in Tokyo for my trip in 2013 , I came across a place in Nihombashi which was a Guest house/hostel. This place was one of the most amazing places I have ever been to. Name of the place, Khaosan Ninja, with a theme of a ninja house. This was in Nihombashi. So picking my place to stay I've made a name for myself staying there for my vacation. Now I know you're thinking hey a vacation is not long enough to say much. Well a year later I was about to work for the very first place I rested my head at. I also got to live in that same building. Nihombashi is an easy commute to many places from Asakusa, Ueno, and Akihabara which is 15 min walking from there if you kinda walk fast. The people in the area are nice, there are nice views of this little river with these boats, I think there is a restaurant that tours around. It pretty easy to get lost but worth it when you start to get to areas that have some hidden gems to eat. If you dont want to stay in a super touristy area but still stay in Tokyo with places to browse around and eat, then Nihombashi it is.
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9 years ago
A secret underground rice bunker?
Nihonbashi is great. Not for the bridge, not for the office buildings, not for the variety of restaurants, not for the small fresh fruit smoothie shop as you leave the train, but for something else. The story of a secret underground rice bunker. I wander around for a while looking for the entrance to the secret underground rice bunker. It takes a while but I eventually find a huge office building that has every window on one side completely covered in plants. On the other side of the building I scare away an eagle pecking at a gold statue of Prometheus. This must be the place, I think to myself. It turns out it is. Deeply tucked away in the second basement level of a huge skyscraper, they grow rice. I am not entirely sure why they grow rice, but people are free to come and see it. Huge natural light shines from above. Rice grows. From what I was told, this area stretches under the whole business district, although it doesn’t. The size of the area was heavily exaggerated to me. The rice isn’t really that secret either, it is not too well advertised, but no one is trying to hide the fact that it grows here either. I think it is actually encouraged for people to come here and learn about rice cultivation, and you definitely should.
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