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Akasaka 赤坂

Akasaka at dusk (© やすどん - Fotolia.com)
Akasaka at dusk

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Akasaka has traditionally been one of the most upper class quarters of Tokyo. It is the western extension of the government's district at Nagatacho. Akasaka possess the highest concentration of first-rate hotels in Tokyo, including the New Otani, Okura, ANA Intercontinental, Capitol Tokyu and Akasaka Prince hotels. Apart from that, it has a pleasant atmosphere of little hilly streets filled by restaurants and boutiques. Akasaka's elegance and character is reminiscent of Ginza, but without the fluorescent lights, wide avenues, big department stores and language schools.

The Akasaka Palace, a monumental Western-style stone edifice rivalling with Europe's Royal palaces, served as a residence for the Crown Prince between 1899 and 1909. Since 1974 it has been used as the State Guesthouse (迎賓館 Geihinkan) to receive foreign dignitaries on official visits. The palace cannot be visited, but is visible from the gate near Yotsuya station.

The Akasaka Park Tower (141m) dominates the hilly neighbourhood bordering Roppongi in the way reminding of a Japanese castle. The main tenant is JP Morgan. The cluster of buildings directly east of it is known as akasaka Sacas (saka means "hill") and comprise the intriguingly shaped TBS Broadcasting Center (and headquarters of TBS TV), Akasaka BLITZ (a major concert venue), the Akasaka ACT Theatre, and the brand new Akasaka Biz Tower (179m, HQ of Hakuhodo, EMI Music Japan and the Tokyo branch of Mainichi Broadcasting System).

The New Otani Hotel, next to Akasaka Mitsuke station, has beautiful Japanese gardens and a revolving restaurant at the top, with views on the Akasaka Palace across the road. Following the Sotobori-dōri Avenue toward Toranomon and Shimbashi, you will stumble on the Prudential Financial tower (158m), completed in late 2001, and the massive Sannō Park Tower (194m), next to Tameike-Sannō station, housing the Tokyo offices of such multinationals as Bank of America, Cushman & Wakefield, Deutsche Bank, DuPont, Estée Lauder and Philip Morris. Most towers around Akasaka being offices only, they are off-limit to visitors.

State Guesthouse (Akasaka Palace), Tokyo Akasaka Intercity Homat Viscount Ark Hills, Akasaka

Take Roppongi-dōri Avenue south of the Tameike crossing to reach Ark Hills, a complex that emerged between 1967 and 1986 and was redeveloped recently with new residential towers. Located just behind the US embassy, Ark Hills includes the ANA InterContinental Tokyo Hotel, the 37-floor the ARK Mori Building, the TV Asahi broadcasting center, and the Suntory Hall, a world-class concert hall for classical music. The embassies of Spain and Sweden are also located near Ark Hills.

There are two moderately interesting shrines in Akasaka. The Hie-jinja Shrine (日枝神社) overlooks the city on one of its highest hill between Tameike Sanno and Akasaka Mitsuke. The second one is Toyokawa-Inari-jinja Shrine (豊川稲荷神社), which dxells along the Aoyama-dōri, on the way from Akasaka-Mitsuke to Aoyama.

Surrounding Areas :

Aoyama, Tokyo
Roppongi, Tokyo
Diet of Japan, Nagatacho, Tokyo
Ginza, Tokyo
Shiodome, Tokyo

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