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Roppongi Hills

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Roppongi 六本木 (pronounced Roh-poan-ghee)
 
Roppongi literally means "six original trees" and the name is first traced back to the 1660's.  There is not an official record as to how this area got its name, but there used to be six large Zelkova trees (like those in Omotesando) that marked the area.  Following Japan's WWII surrender in 1945, Roppongi became occupied by the U.S. Army and Allied government officials and became known for its nightlife.  By the 60's Roppongi evolved into an international playground of discos catering to celebrities,  local musicians and trendy partiers.
 
Today, Roppongi still has an active international night life and thanks to a civic development project that built mega-future complex Roppongi Hills in 2002 and the artistic concept of buildings called Tokyo Midtown in 2006, it's cooler than ever.
 
Here is our 2010 video visit to Roppongi:
 
 
 
Roppongi Hills 六本木ヒルズ
The Roppongi Hills development consists of several buildings  incorporating office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio (Asahi TV, yes Asahi...like the beer), an outdoor amphitheater, and a few parks.  The style of architecture embraces a futuristic vision and an aesthetic of wide open spaces that incorporates nature.
 
The centerpiece at Roppongi Hills is the Mori Building, standing 54 stories tall.  It's also marked by a spider statue (you can see it in the picture below, just to the left of the door).
 
Mori Building
Mori Tower
 

Inside the Mori building on the 52nd floor, is a popular observation deck called Tokyo City View.  Locals say it's the best view of Tokyo, and you can get great pics of the city (especially at night).

Mori Tokyo City View

With a joint ticket you can also go upstairs and visit the Mori Art Museum that showcases contemporary art in temporary exhibits that usually last a few months.  Unless you really can't stand looking at art, we recommend checking it out, because Japanese contemporary art is usually fun and interesting - one art piece will sometimes take up the entire space of a room.  Not too deep, not too much to take in and then you can bring back pamphlets for your friends and they'll think you're sophisticated.Mori Art Museum


 At the foot of Mori Tower is a giant spider statue and we only mention it because it's a great photo opportunity but also, we wanted to warn our arachnophobic websurfers that the big one exists.   

Mori Spider

The pic above shows a famous spider statue at the foot of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills.

Roppongi Keyakizaka Dori 六本木 けやき坂 通り 

Located just behind the Mori Building is Roppongi's Keyakizaka Dori, was designed as a mini version of Omotesando Dori with its luxury shops like Louis Vuitton (pictured below), glamorous cafes and even the trees that line the street. 
Roppongi Keyakizaka Dori

In fact "Keyakizaka Dori" means "Zelkova Sloped Road" which point to Omotesando's most famous features, its Zelkova trees and its famous sloped road.   Click here to see what Omotesando has to offer as it's really something to see, but this street is still worth the comparison and if you've run out of time or Omotesando just isn't on your to do list than this shopping street will still be nice.

On the other hand, if you've been cursing the urban jungle and want a nice place to enjoy nature, please have a stroll through Mori Garden.

Mori Garden

The gardens in Roppongi Hills were planned from the beginning to bring peace to an otherwise weary Tokyo.

Mori Garden

 

Christmas Illuminations クリスマス イルミネーション 

During the winter holidays, Tokyoites enjoy a tradition called "Tokyo Illumination" where companies decorate their office buildings, malls and sometimes parks with christmas lights.  Of note, the Japanese don't really celebrate Christmas with family tradition.  They usually go out on a date (like we might on New Year's Eve), check out the Illuminations and pick up a (pre-ordered) fancy Christmas cake to take home and eat.  Pictured below is the Mori Garden during Illumination at night.

Mori Garden


In fact, Tokyo Illuminations are so popular they've made appearances as scene backdrops for many television miniseries romances (called do-ramas).  Which brings us to the dramatic illuminations of Tokyo Midtown.

If "Christmas Illumination" was some sort of Olympic competition, it would be really hard to beat "Tokyo Midtown".  To see the Christmas presentation in Tokyo Midtown from 2008, please check out the YouTube video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdl4DVO7bvs

Tokyo Midtown 

Tokyo Midtown is Roppongi's latest futuristic development and it seems the architect was intent on fusing art, architecture, nature and commerce into a unique enchanting experience.  

Tokyo Midtown

 

Pictured above is a view through a skylight in the Midtown shopping mall that reveals the Midtown skyscrapers and a tree above.  Everywhere you look there's another gorgeous photo, just waiting to be taken. 

Tokyo Midtown

 and works of art line the sidewalks.

Tokyo Midtown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are restaurants in nearly every building at Tokyo Midtown but the food court in the Plaza building is very popular among Tokyites for casual dining as it offers all kinds of food from around the world.

Tokyo Midtown Plaza

 


Thanks to the canopy at the plaza, you can choose your lunch from many inexpensive (but great) restaurants and enjoy an "outdoor" cafe experience even when it's raining.

If you're more interested in fine dining and a real outdoor cafe experience, then make your way over to the Garden Terrace for beautiful views of the gardens, a really nice meal and what the heck...you've been walking around this place for awhile...go ahead and have a glass of wine or beer out on the terrace.

Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace

 

 


For more information on the restaurants offering terrace seating, please click on the picture above to link to the official site.  Once there you can choose "Advanced Search Restaurants and Food" then click the box next to "terrace seating" to see the restaurants that make that available.

Getting There - Roppongi

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 and follow signs to the Toei Oedo 大江戸 Line and take that to Roppongi 六本木.

Price: ¥320

Time: 22 minutes

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Toei Oedo 大江戸 Line to Roppongi 六本木.

Price: ¥210

Time: 9 minutes

 

Click here for directions to Roppongi Hills from their official site

Click here for directions to Tokyo Midtown from their official site

For more upscale shopping and restaurants, please click the link below:

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