Due to its richness in the arts, technological advancements, and big developments, Tokyo has been known worldwide as one of the biggest and most advanced metropolitan cities. Many tourists from around the world flock to this great city to experience the many sights and sounds that it has to offer and are surprised to find that within it is another city.
Tokyo’s Hidden Gem: Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills is one of the largest and most forward thinking developments in Japan. As a fully integrated property development, Roppongi Hills was envisioned to become a city on its own by making full use of the area provided to build a space that contains residential, commercial, and cultural/ entertainment buildings. Located in the Minato ward of Tokyo, Roppongi Hills was designed to give its residents everything they need within a reasonable distance.
Lead by one of the world’s leading business and real estate tycoons, Minoru Mori, Roppongi Hills was built as a fully integrated development where residents, placed in high-rise urban communities, are given the opportunity to sleep, work, enjoy, and shop with a reduced commuting time. Minoru Mori’s idea was to decrease the everyday working man’s commuting time to improve their quality of life and turn the competitiveness of Japan as a nation. With 14 years to build, four billion US Dollars, and a 27 acre (109,000 square meters) site, Roppongi Hills has become one of the premier places for anyone, both Japanese natives and English speaking expats, to live in.
Taking Up Residence in Roppongi Hills
Minoru Mori’s development company, Mori Living, wanted to build a neighborhood where the international community of both expats and tourists may meet and mingle with the local Japanese people in an environment that showcase the heart of the Japanese experience. Rent in the Roppongi Hills area can cost as low as 300,000 yen (2662 US Dollars) up to 3.5 million Yen (31,063 US Dollars). Roppongi Hills seeks to break the standards of Japanese living and improve the quality of life that people aspire to have. This area is packed with both mid-rise and high-rise buildings that people are clamoring to live in. The locations of each residential space are beneficial to anyone who wants a shorter walk and commute to the other areas of Tokyo. Apartments are very spacious and are surrounded by different community cafes, entertainment areas, and shops. One will never run out of food to eat in this area as groceries, convenience stores, and restaurants are littered around Roppongi Hills.
Coordinate Your Trip to Roppongi Hills: Hotels, Clubs, and Places to Shop
As mentioned earlier, Roppongi Hills is a one stop destination for everything one might need for various living, work and entertainment needs. Everything from business hotels and shopping malls, to nightclubs, the following is a guide to what one might expect when visiting this all-encompassing area.
The Mori development team has produced many different areas that will suit any shoppers needs. The retail areas contain more than 200 unique shops and restaurants that are sectioned off into 5 areas with different themes.
- North Tower: An area in the Roppongi Hills that combines gourmet and artisanal restaurants with casual aesthetics. Located near the Roppongi Station of the Hibiya train line, North Tower features many different shops that are perfect for casual walk-in dining and window shopping.
- Hollywood Plaza & Metrohat: This is the area dedicated to the personal care, beauty, and cosmetic products. This area has shops that are centered around health, beauty, and fashion.
- West Walk: Much like the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, this is open-air shopping area has a strong sense of what is trendy. The shops here feature a range of products from gourmet food to medical purpose items. This four-floor space is located in Mori Tower.
- Hillside: This space was developed for the sole purpose of highlighting the arts and the lifestyle associated with it. The main features are the movie theaters of the Keyakizaka Complex and the numerous Asian inspired restaurants.
- Roppongi Keyakizaka Dori: This group of streets is noted for their lush greenery and luxurious retail offerings. Trendy cafes, world-renowned brands, and high-quality restaurants can be found here.
The complexity and diversity of the retail offerings of Roppongi Hills give its residents and visitors much to explore. The shared ideals of the facilities located here have allowed for the ideas of originality and trendsetting to shine in Roppongi Hills.
Roppongi is no stranger to businessmen visiting Japan and the B Akasaka hotel is known to be a very hospitable and beneficial stay for them. Located in one of the best areas in Tokyo, B Akasaka hotel has been highly regarded as the most cost-efficient hotel that gives its guests the finest of services at prices that are reasonable. Equipped with over 150 fully air-conditioned rooms and some of the most hospitable staff, B Akasaka hotel offers its patrons many amenities that businessmen and casual tourists will appreciate. Some of these amenities include the highest internet speed available in the country, satellite television services, business areas, and a fine selection at the hotel restaurant.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo, a name that is recognizable around the globe, is also one of the best places to stay in the area. Aside from the hotel service that is standard in all the Grand Hyatt hotels, Grand Hyatt Tokyo offers its clients luxury beyond compare. It boasts its unparalleled dining experience, the renowned spa, and fitness center, as well as the 15 themed event spaces.
The Japanese are known to be the first ones to let their hair down after a hard day's work. Their dedication to their jobs is only matched by their dedication to forget everything and party once night falls. This has brought about the numerous clubs that allow people to have fun and let loose.
- V2 Tokyo: Located on the top of the Roppongi Roa Building, V2 Tokyo is well known for its great drinks and upbeat music. As this nightclub is surrounded by glass, party goers are also treated to a spectacular view of the city. With the production level lights and sound setup, it features V2 Tokyo does not fail to turn any night into one for the books.
- Esprit Tokyo: This club is most famous for the iconic LED ball that hangs from the center and lights up the room. With the amazing sounds and the world-class lineup of regular DJs, this nightclub is definitely worth a visit. It is located only minutes walk away from Roppongi Metro station and it is recommended that one makes a reservation through their website before visiting.
- Jumanji 55: A combination of gastronomy and dance hall, Jumanji 55 is definitely a place where one can spend a lot of time in. This inexpensive night club is most known for its music, buffet-style meals, and 1000 yen all-you-can-drink options. As with Esprit Tokyo, a reservation through their website is recommended before visiting.
The Best Attractions to Visit in Roppongi Hills: Museums, The Spider Statue, Mori Tower
As with any tourist, one must always visit the attractions of any new area of interest. Roppongi Hills contains many distinct locations and landmarks, but only three of them have been deemed by many as the most exciting and most definitive.
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower is the heart and soul of Roppongi Hills. During its completion in 2003, this 54-story building mixes commercial spaces with business offices. Standing at 238 meters tall, the tower is currently the sixth tallest building in Tokyo and one of the largest buildings in the world based on floor space (379,408 square meters). Giant corporations have come and gone in this building. Notable tenants were Yahoo, Konami, and Lehman Brothers. This building stands as the centerpiece of the Roppongi Hills development and contains many attractions and restaurants. Most commercial spaces are located on the first six floors. Observation decks can be located on the 52nd and 54th floor of the building, perfect for taking a photo of the spectacular view of the city skyline.
The next area is a favorite for art enthusiasts and casual tourists alike. The Mori Arts Center, located on the 49th floor up to the 54th floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, contains many attractions that highlight the rich diversity of Japanese art. Opened to the public in 2003, the Mori Arts Center has since featured many artists and exhibits that continually drawn in flocks of tourists and sightseers. On the 49th and 51st floors is a private library and club that are reserved for members only. The Mori Arts Museum were considered to be the heart of the arts center and were designed by a world class architectural firm, Gluckman Mayner Architects. The museum had originally occupied the 52nd and 53rd floor but has been downsized. The museum is noted to be the only museum in Tokyo that has a percentage of foreign visitors that rivals those of the Tokyo National Museum. It’s driving principle and vision is to develop the Japanese art appreciation to the point where art is related to all aspects of life. The museum has continued to become a center for Japanese and Asian contemporary art which presents its visitor's works that can be related to broader concepts such as history, science, and philosophy. Aside from strengthening the appreciation of art in the community, the Mori Arts Museum has continued to be a strong supporter, young contemporary artists. By allowing an easy access to the general public, the Mori Arts Museum has continued to bring the arts closer to the masses.
The last must-see attraction of the Roppongi Hills would have to be the giant spider sculpture looming over the Mori Tower Plaza. Called the Maman, this hulking piece of art was the child of the french-born artist, Louise Bourgeois. Maman, a french word which translates to the mother, was designed as a reflection of her love and admiration to her own mother. Now one might think that the use of a spider is counter to the admiration of one’s own mother, but Louise Bourgeois has always regarded spiders in a positive way. She would describe spiders as clever, patient and reasonable all while being dainty, subtle, and useful. All these traits she found in spiders she could relate to her own mother. She also described her mother to be overprotective of her growing up and reminded her of a spider protecting her hatchlings.
It is primarily made of bronze and white marble. The bronze makes up the majority of sculpture while the white marble was used as the material for the eggs found in the spider’s belly. It stands at a total of 10 meters and weighs over 11,000 kilograms. The Maman spider might be considered one of the greatest and most recognized works of contemporary art, but many have wondered how it would fare with the passage of time, especially since it was located in a nation plagued by earthquakes. Mori had structural engineers test the stability and feasibility of adding this sculpture to the plaza and had determined that by simply placing it on the plaza, the sculpture would stand. Through the years, the spider sculpture has slowly inched away from its original position and has inadvertently given itself much more character.
Designed in 1999, the Maman sculpture was only ready for production by the year 2003, right on time for the grand opening of the Mori Tower. Minoru Mori, the acclaimed creator of Roppongi Hills, personally chose and brought in the Maman sculpture to Tokyo. He had his eye on this sculpture since the year 2000, as he had seen the sculpture in its early design phases. He saw it by chance and had realized that it would be perfect for what he had in store for Tokyo.
Best Sushi Restaurant in Tokyo Found in Roppongi Hills
One cannot visit Japan without going around and eating sushi. Those on a business trip to the Roppongi Hills area might at first be saddened that they would not be able to taste the likes of the famous sushi chef, Jiro Ono. This guide is here to prevent that from happening by providing the unwary traveler with a list of the best places to get sushi in Roppongi Hills.
- Sushi Seizan: One of the better-known sushi joints in the area, Sushi Seizan makes each of its pieces with only the freshest fish from Tsukiji Market. This is the more friendly of sushi joints in the area as it also features fusion dishes such as California rolls and crab rolls.
- Sukiyabashi Jiro: This is the restaurant of Takashi Ono, the son of the world-renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono. This sushi restaurant spares nothing when serving its customers and much like the restaurant of his father, it is always best to let the chef decide your meal. It is always a treat to view a master at work and this is one of the places to do so.
- Abe: This sushi store is unlike the first two as it features fewer crowds and you are free to dine as long and as comfortable as you want. Located in a quiet neighborhood near the Roppongi Station, Abe features simple, classic, and well-executed dishes that are reasonable priced.
With everything said and done, Roppongi Hills is a large and vast area that has everything that one might need from the city of Tokyo. From world-class restaurants to luxurious residential areas, this development has truly made another city within Tokyo.