- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Japanese Phrases
Nihombashi, Ginza, and Yuraku-cho
Tokyo is a city of many centers. The municipal administrative center is in Shinjuku. The national government center is in Kasumigaseki. Nihombashi is the center of banking and finance, and Ginza is the center of commerce.
When Ieyasu Tokugawa had the first bridge constructed at Nihombashi, he designated it the starting point for the five great roads leading out of his city, the point from which all distances were to be measured. His decree is still in force: the black pole on the present bridge, erected in 1911, is the Zero Kilometer marker for all the national highways and is considered the true center of Tokyo.
The early millionaires of Edo built their homes in the Nihombashi area. Some, like the legendary timber magnate Bunzaemon Kinokuniya, spent everything they made in the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara and died penniless. Others founded the great trading houses of today—Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo—which still have warehouses nearby.
When Japan's first corporations were created and the Meiji government developed a modern system of capital formation, the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Shoken Torihikijo) was established on the west bank of the Nihombashi-gawa (Nihombashi River). The home offices of most of the country's major securities companies are nearby.
In the Edo period there were three types of currency in circulation: gold, silver, and copper. Ieyasu Tokugawa started minting his own silver coins in 1598 in his home province of Suruga, even before he became shogun. In 1601 he established a gold mint on the site of what is now the Bank of Japan. In 1612 he relocated the Suruga plant to a patch of reclaimed land west of his castle. The area soon came to be known informally as Ginza (Silver Mint).
Currency values fluctuated during this time and eventually businesses fell under the control of a few large merchant houses. One of the most successful of these merchants was a man named Takatoshi Mitsui, who by the end of the 17th century created a commercial empire—in retailing, banking, and trading—known today as the Mitsui Group. Not far from the site of Echigo-ya stands its direct descendant: Mitsukoshi department store.
Marunouchi lies west of Tokyo Station and extends between Hibiya Park and the Outer Garden of the Imperial Palace. In the late 19th century, Iwasaki Yanosuke, the second president of Mitsubishi Corporation, bought the land. Today it houses numerous office and retail complexes and the headquarters of various companies within the Mitsubishi group.
Nihombashi, Ginza, and Yuraku-cho at a Glance
Experience Nihombashi, Ginza, and Yuraku-cho
- Bank of Japan (Nihon Ginko)
- Bridgestone Museum of Art (Burijisuton Bijutsukan)
- Idemitsu Museum of Art (Idemitsu Bijutsukan)
- Kabuto Jinja (Kabuto Shrine)
- Apple Store
- Dover Street Market
- Ginza Tanaka
- International Shopping Arcade
Elsewhere in Tokyo
- Akihabara and Jimbo-cho
- Aoyama, Harajuku, and Shibuya
- Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
- Greater Tokyo
- Imperial Palace and Government District
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe