Tokyo station is more than 100 years old and with it’s magnificent red brick building one of the symbols of Tokyo. Per day the station has more than 500,000 travellers and there is a fair chance you will be one of them when arriving for the first time in Tokyo.
The concept for the station dates from the Meiji era and after 6 years of construction the station opened on 20 december 1914.
Tokyo station has a rich history and was one of the few buildings that withstood the great Kanto earthquake of 1928. In may 1945 it was bombed and severely damaged. Although at one moment there were plans to completely demolish the building it has been reconstructed to its pre-war glory and re-opened in 2012.
The station is on the Yamanote train line and located in the prestigious Marunouchi area close the Imperial palace. It is one of the biggest stations in the world and although there are clear signposts everywhere a station map can be handy.
There are two main entrances respectively Yaesu at the east side and Marunouchi at the west side. The latter entrance is the most interesting for tourists and houses the beautifully renovated Tokyo station hotel which is worth a stay, although not unexpectedly that comes at a price.
My tip is before going to your hotel or next leg of the trip, to pay a visit to the JR East Travel Service Centre that houses a tourist information desk. The people there are extremely helpful, speak English and can provide you with all the information you need from most touristic places not only in Tokyo.
Things to see and do.
Not only the station itself but the whole area around the station named Tokyo Station City has undergone thorough renovation, and is being promoted heavily by East Japan Railway Company. When you have spare time on a rainy day it is an ideal destination.
In addition to the ideas suggested on the Tokyo Station City website my tip is to take a break in Kitte (the white building behind the taxis in the picture here above).
Kitte is a 7 floor brand new shopping mall housing the Tokyo Central Post. There are many shops, ideal for a not so expensive but stylish non-traditional souvenir. There are also a fair number of restaurants of which a lot are offering traditional dishes and flavours of Japan.
Part of the Kitte building is the renovated old post office from Tokyo. My tip : don’t forget to visit the former Tokyo postmaster’s office on the 4th floor. The interior brings you back in the Edo time and the outside view makes the picture complete.