Learning About Toranomon in Tokyo
Location Map: Toranomon Minato-ku
The small business district of Toranomon is located in the Minato ward of Tokyo. It is a small area located in the southwestern region of Tokyo. It is located nearest to Shinagawa, Shinjuku, and Chiyoda. Toranomon is a small area contained within the 20 square kilometers Minato-ku of Tokyo.
What is interesting about Toranomn, and Minato-ku, in general, is the fact that it is more like an office district rather than a residential zone. Majority of the buildings house headquarters and offices of popular companies like Google, Apple, Honda, Fujitsu, and more. There are not much tourist destinations in the area as most of the historical sites have been transformed into buildings and towers. A lot of people say that it is better to enjoy Toranomon in the skylines rather than on foot.
Toranomon Weather and Climate
Since Toranomon is located in Tokyo, this would mean that it experiences a warm subtropical climate. This means that generally the city experience four different seasons throughout the year. However, it experiences warmer and more humid summers during the months of June to September and mild winters between December and February. It is also well known that Japan is one of the countries in the world that experiences a one-month seasonal lag. This means that they experience the peak of summer during August instead of July and the peak of winter during January instead of December.
History of Toranomon
Historically, Toranomon literally means “Tiger’s Gate” in English. Although it does not really look like a gate, the name pertains to the fact that this is the area where the southernmost gate of the Edo Castle was located during the earlier times. In fact, the gate stood until the beginning of the Meiji Restoration when the entire Edo castle was demolished. There is a marker pointing to the original grounds for which the Tiger’s gate and the Edo castle once stood.
As said, Toranomon is home to a number of buildings which are headquarters and offices of popular household names. Among these would be the Japan Air System between the 70s and the 90s. Other offices include TV Tokyo, Japan Tobacco, and Air China.
Travel tips to Toranomon
Access to Toranomon
There are different ways of accessing the Toranomon neighborhood from popular train stations all over Tokyo. For instance, the tourist can ride the Gyoza line bound for the Akasakamitsuke. Ginza is one station away from the Toranomon station. For those coming in from the south, they can take the Hibiya line bound for Ueno and get off at the Kamiyacho station. Travelers can also take the JR Yamanote line and get off at the Shimbashi station. For those coming in from the airports, the Haneda airport is roughly 30 to 45 minutes away from the center of Toranomon. Meanwhile, the Narita airport is roughly 90 to 120 minutes away.
Among the popular tourist destinations surrounding Toranomon would be Roppongi hills located on the southwestern side of the neighborhood. Hibiya Park is located on the northeastern side of the neighborhood. The Toronomon hospital is walking distance from Toranomon hills.
Hotels and Accommodation in Toranomon
Hotel Okura Tokyo
This is one of the leading hotels in the world and is considered as the most popular luxury hotel in the Minato Area of Tokyo. It has a total of 796 rooms for which some of these have high-security features for their VIP clientele. This particular hotel is also the home of US Presidents visiting Japan because of its proximity to the United States Embassy.
Another reason why the Okura hotel is quite popular is due to the fact that it hosts the Okura Museum of Art on its hotel grounds. This is home to a wide collection of art from all over East Asia. It used to be the personal collection of Okura Kihachiro, the founder of the Okura Hotel.
The Toranomon Hills: Japan’s Tallest Sky Scraper
History of Toranomon Hills
The most iconic spot in all of Toranomon would be the Toranomon hills, a residential skyscraper, built at the center of the neighborhood. This particular building is known to be the tallest in all of Japan with a roof elevation of 247 meters.
Since the Toranomon district is known to be home to a number of headquarters and offices of international companies, there had been plans of developing Toranomon into a popular business complex. There was a time when a portion of the neighborhood was filled with residential buildings. There was a plan of redeveloping the entire district with the construction of a new road looping around the neighborhood. As it will displace a number of local residents, city planners have included in their plan a large building which would house all local residents who will be displaced by the road construction.
The plan was conceptualized in the 1940s but was only formalized in the 1990s. However, construction did not begin until 2011. The large residential building, now named Toranomon hills, was officially completed and opened in 2014.
Basically, the entire building has a total of 52 floors excluding about 5 basement floors. It covers a floor area of about 201,000 square meters. The floors are divided into different categories. From the 3rd to the 1st basement levels would be parking spaces enough to park more than 500 vehicles at a time. From the 1st to the 4th floor are commercial spaces which could be rented out by retailers. These include restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and souvenir shops.
The 4th and 5th floors are conference spaces good for meetings, celebrations, conventions, and more. The next 29 floors would cover office spaces for different companies, both local and international. Then there are 172 units of private residences from the 38th to the 46th floor. Lastly, from the 47th to the 52nd floor would be the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills hotel. This is a part of the Hyatt chain of hotels and it offers a total of 164 guest rooms available.
Highlights of the structure
Other than the fact that it is the tallest structure in Japan, the Toranomon hills boast of its architecture and design. It is one of the many steel framed structures constructed in modern Japan whose timeline of construction lasted only three years – an incredible speed for such a large-scale structure.
The building is also home to a number of popular offices which include the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan. This is known to be the largest retirement fund in the world. Famous companies like Novartis, ArcelorMittal, K&L Gates, and State Street Corporation are among the tenants of the Toranomon building.
Places to go near Toranomon Hills
Toranomon Hills: Mori Tower
The Toranomon Hills’ main structure is known as the Mori Building of Japan. This must not be confused with the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Although it does not have an impressive height like that of the Toranomon hills, it is still considered as one of the tallest in all of Tokyo standing at a total height of 238 meters.
Just like the other building, it is home to offices, shops, restaurants, and apartments. What makes it special is the fact that it has an observation deck on the top floor which is open for all individuals wishing to get a good view of the Tokyo skyline. It also has an art museum in one of its floors. Roppongi Hills are home to more than 200 shops which are mostly upscale and trendy. This is the brand of Roppongi Hills and is what makes it quite famous.
The Tokyo City View observation deck is an open-air deck on the rooftop of the tall building. It is known to be the most popular in all of Tokyo because most observation decks are indoor and closed off by glass windows. Before reaching the Tokyo City View, people can stop by the Mori Art Museum which exhibits collections of modern art from different parts of the world.
Okura Museum of Art
This particular museum was opened in the early 1900s in Tokyo as a form of charity by a man named Okura Kihachiro. Most of the artwork present in the museum is a private collection of this famous, wealthy man which he started to acquire since the Meiji Restoration.
In total, there are about 2,000 artworks within the museum. Out of this, three are considered as National Treasures of Japan and about twelve are known as Important Cultural Properties. The national treasures include a scroll painting from the 1200s, a wooden statue of Fugen Bosatsu, and a copy of the Kokinshu. Sadly, many of the ancient artifacts from the museum were destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and have not been reconstructed due to extensive damage.
The museum is located near the complex of the Hotel Okura in Tokyo but was closed to the public for almost three years. This is due to the fact that it was maintained and renovated, the first time since it first opened.
Although it is more of a landmark than a tourist destination, the Toranomon station is a subway station of the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. This is the main gateway of passengers and travelers going into the neighborhood by train. It was opened in 1938 and still remains in operation up until today.
Also a landmark in the area, the Toranomon hospital is located at the Minato-ku ward of Tokyo. It is a few minute’s walk from the Toranomon Hills building. This particular hospital was established in the late 1960s and is one of the leading research facilities for chronic kidney and liver diseases. It is known to develop state-of-the-art treatments through its extensive studies for chronic diseases.
One of their main goals is to help in alleviating the issues to be caused by the dwindling population of Japanese doctors in the country. Out of fear that there will be a shortage of medical personnel in the future, they now do what they can to develop treatments for chronic illnesses. This particular hospital can be accessed via the JR Yamanato line to the Shimbashi Toranomon station.
Toranomon Hills Residences
Majority of Toranomon was developed to become a commercial complex or business district. This is why there are not many residential spaces in the city. However, latest redevelopments have included rentable and buyable private residential units within office buildings to provide for expatriates, and foreign migrants working in the vicinity.
As explained, the redevelopment of the Toranomon area in Japan has forced a number of families out of their homes. This is why it is their goal to provide new homes for these local residents. One way to solve this was through the construction of the Toranomon Hills residences. However, it is important to note that there is still another residential real estate in the area.
Many of these residential spaces can be as small as 25 square meters, a standard studio type home for a couple or an individual. However, there are still large spaces available in the area which could be as big as 89 to 100 square meters. The facility is complete with two bedrooms, walk-in closets, living rooms, and a balcony.
Other condominiums in the area include the Roppongi hills residence, Ark Hills Residence, and the Hirakawacho Residence. These provide residents their access to different services such as room service, house-keeping, and more.
This used to be one of the largest residential palaces during the Shogunate period of Japan. It was centralized in the Chiyoda Ward but, due to its size, it expands to other nearby wards. This is why only one gate can be found in Toranomon. Nowadays, a majority of the complex lies in ruins due to the fact that a bulk of shogunate residences were destroyed during the Meiji Restoration. There are parts of the castle which have been reconstructed for tourism purposes. The moats are still present, the gardens are still alive, and some walls and towers remain. Interestingly, the main keep is now the site of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.