In Tokyo, most of the main shopping areas are located around the train stations of the Yamanote-line, which train tracks draw a big circle around central Tokyo. But there is one exception: Roppongi.
I already introduced Roppongi in some of my articles and videos before. Roppongi is a special place with an international atmosphere. When people all around the city crawl into their beds (or futons) Roppongi’s thriving nightlife just begins. Party people come together and have a great time in clubs, bars, and restaurants until the sun rises again.
Today I want to focus on something different: the interesting architecture you’ll find at Roppongi.
After the sun went down, I headed to Roppongi. I love pictures of fabrics and industrial scenes at night. For some reason, I had the feeling that Roppongi Hills would also look great at night and so went there for a walk. I made the right decision!
When you finally get out of the deepest subway station of the Oedo-line in Tokyo, it is just a 5-minute walk down the road until you arrive at Roppongi Hills. From there, you climb a big stairway (or just use the hidden escalator on its right) to reach a huge platform.
The redevelopment of the old neighborhood Roppongi was the biggest project of such kind in Tokyo. It opened to the public in 2003. You can spend quite some time in this huge building complex with its 238 meters (781 ft) high signature tower – the Mori Tower – arising from its midst.
Since the tower is located at a certain distance to other skyscrapers, you can see it from very far away at many locations in Tokyo. For me, the Mori Tower always seems like a big, rocket-like UFO that decided to land in central Tokyo. Doing some research on the design concept I found out that the tower, which was designed by the architect Kohn Pedersen Fox, is actually meant to resemble an origami Japanese helmet and armor.
Roppongi Hills is a mixed-use development with tenants like Goldman Sachs, Google (with YouTube) in the main tower and TV Asahi in a glass building right next it. The complex has a Japanese garden, an arena for live concerts and events, and designer boutiques, restaurants, and a movie theater in the desert sand colored stone shell that surrounds the Mori Tower.
Exploring the maze
The platform and side buildings of the Mori Tower resemble a snail shell and – compared to the space-age feel of the tower – have a more organic touch to them. This is actually no surprise since a different company designed the outer buildings: the Jerde Partnership (Jon Jerde). Even tough the design consists of many straight, sharp lines you won’t find any straight paths. Even the height of the ceilings inside the malls seems to change.
The outer layer of the snail shell is a huge (but kind of hidden) staircase. Paths wind slowly down to the garden and arena area, so if you don’t mind taking the stairs you’ll get the chance to explore the architecture from different angles.
On your way down to the arena, you’ll find various restaurants on your way. There is something for everybody – there were even restaurants with vegan dishes (which is still a rarity here in Tokyo).
I decided to get a salad at “CRISP SALAD WORKS” where they offer 8 different types of chopped signature salads (with greens or grains) and custom salads with a variety of fresh dressings. Prices range from about 1000 to 1500 yen. Not too bad – since my salad was super yummy!!!
For dessert, I went up to the platform again where I’d discovered a stylish crepe restaurant with blue walls and blue velvet sofas. I ordered a berry crepe with frozen yogurt and I have to say that this was the best “Japanese style” (rolled like a cone) crepe I have ever eaten in Tokyo. I’ll definitely come again!
My night stroll around Roppongi Hills was a great success. Even if you don’t go to the movie theater, the observation deck or the Mori Art Museum (which you should do) the place is great fun and worth a visit.
6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
From the Toei Subway, Oedo Line, Roppongi Station, Exit 3: 4-minute walk
From the Toei Subway, Oedo Line, Azabu Juban Station, Exit 7: 5-minute walk
Hill Side 1 F close to the glass dome at Roppongi Hills
Hill Side 2F (platform level) at Roppongi Hills