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From refined neighborhoods to a downtown area that still has its same traditional charm! A feature on shopping areas in Minato-ku, Tokyo

Valentine's Day and the season for graduations is almost here. Now there are more chances to go out shopping to look for some gifts. So that all of you can use it as a reference, this month's feature is to present you with noteworthy shopping areas in Minato-ku, Tokyo. If you visit that neighborhood that is so well known for the first time in a while, you might just discover something new! Be sure to come to this town with your friends and family to look for some rare items you will love!

Roppongi A neighborhood combined with art where there are a lot of refined items

When it comes to a "neighborhood that never sleeps" in Minato-ku, that has to mean Roppongi. It has an accumulation of well known IT companies, so although it may appear to be a business neighborhood in the afternoon, it turns into an adult town at night with bars, dance clubs, and glittering neon lights. It also has art spots including art museums and art galleries topped by The National Art Center, and a refined aroma wafts from the fashion from all of the people who line up on the long escalators in the subway system. Roppongi is the place where you can always feel the cutting edge of what Tokyo has to offer.

Near the end of the 20th century, places like Juliana's Tokyo all at once swept the city, and in Roppongi, there was a lot of excitement to be seen as the place where the 90s bubble economy culture originated. Starting in the 21st century, Roppongi's neighborhood evolved into one large shopping center with the birth of two large complexes: Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Within both spots that are located in areas 500 m long, worldwide fashion brands stand side by side. Their streets are calm unlike Ginza, and they are also more refined than Shinjuku, so it is almost as if both are acting together to continue the important aspects of culture and shopping that Minato-ku take pride in.

Roppongi Hills in Roppongi's 6th district was established in 2003. With the 54 story, 238 m tall Roppongi Hills Mori Tower at its center, there are modern constructions, offices, residential buildings, and businesses that merge together to form a single neighborhood in this 11 hectare plot of land. There are also symbolic spots that represent Tokyo's celebrities, and the term "Roppongi clan" that was a buzzword at the time came to represent the business owners who work here and the residents who live here.

In the business area divided into five zones, there are about 200 stores, and they can be seen one by one near the area of the Roppongi Subway Station. The North Tower has restaurants and a supermarket, Metro Hat / Hollywood Plaza has casual brands and sports brands, and there are numerous fashion brands in the two buildings of West Walk and Hill Side. On the street Roppongi Keyakizaka-dori, there is a collection of top brands from all over the world.

Among them, West Walk that is the largest in scale has six floors in total. There is an atrium in the building that makes it feel like you are in the middle of downtown, and when you walk along the main area on the second floor, it makes you feel like you are walking outside.

Additionally, among the people who come to Roppongi Hills to shop, there are also a lot of people who come to go around to art museums and enjoy watching movies while out shopping. On the 52nd and 53rd floors of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, there are two art museums that should be called art museums set in the sky: Mori Art Museum and Mori Arts Center Gallery. With a focus on modern art, various exhibitions are held all year long. Art holds a close relationship with Roppongi Hills, and you can view various works of art inside each building and in public areas.

If you are looking for souvenirs that are unique to Roppongi Hills, you should visit the Roppongi Hill Art & Design Store on the third floor of West Walk. In addition to selling items decorated with Roppongi's "Roku Roku Seijin" characters designed by Takashi Murakami, the leader in Japanese contemporary art, they also have a lineup of original Roppongi Hills items.

Tokyo Midtown that opened in 2007 is one large complex with about 130 shops and restaurants inside a plot of land roughly 6.9 hectares in size. In addition to the above ground entrance through a tree-lined park with a pleasant ambiance, the basement floor is also directly connected to Roppongi Subway Station, so you can also enter from the subway.

Starting with the 248 m tall Midtown Tower that stands as an overall symbol, among the buildings that are largely divided into six areas, there is a focus on the shopping spot Galleria, and the Plaza that is adjacent to Galleria. Galleria mainly has fashion brands, and the Plaza has a collection of everyday use shops. Galleria has five floors from a basement floor to four floors above ground, and on both sides of it, there is a design of a downtown atrium. The interior with a wood grain structure and subdued colors has an elegant ambiance that merges together a Japanese style with a modern flair.

It is not just the buildings and shops that are refined. At the Suntory Museum of Art inside Galleria (currently closed for renovations until May 12th, 2020), there is a focus on Japanese art, with art works exhibited that are appreciated by art lovers that include national treasures and important cultural assets. There are exhibits related to design at 21_21 Design Sight in Midtown Garden, and there is a photo exhibit from both masters and up and coming photographers at Fuji Film Square in Midtown West. Additionally, there are a variety of other art works inside the building for you to encounter.

In the atrium in the northern section of Galleria, various events are held for each of the seasons. One of the enjoyments of people who visit Tokyo Midtown is walking through that spacious plaza that has that scenery spreading out around it.

Both complexes are directly connected to the subway station, so there is nothing to worry about when walking around while shopping on rainy days. There are also places to exchange money inside the complexes, so it is very convenient for tourists from abroad. Including the hosting of the 12th Roppongi Art Night in 2020, this is an area where lively efforts are being done in the entire neighborhood, and you can feel how radiant it is no matter when you come here.

Odaiba This shopping area on the bay that continues to evolve is also fully loaded with entertainment!

With the iconic spherical observation deck at Fuji Television's headquarters, or the Odaiba Seaside Park that has the Statue of Liberty erected, Odaiba is now the leading tourist spot in Tokyo. However, there was proactive development that progressed starting in the 1990s for it to be a coastal subcenter, and the Rainbow Bridge that connects Shibaura in Minato-ku with Odaiba was opened in 1993. After that, it was the setting for the mega hit drama series "Bayside Shakedown", allowing the name of "Odaiba" to be known as an area not only by residents of Tokyo, but also people nationwide. One of Odaiba's traits is that trendy shops are able to quickly open up, and Odaiba exists alongside the neighborhoods of Minato-ku, Koto-ku, and Shinagawa-ku. Naturally, we will be presenting to you some noteworthy shopping spots for any fans of Minato-ku.

Aqua City Odaiba is a shopping mall that has about 130 stores. Not only does it have souvenir shops that are loved by tourists, but there are also shops that sell everyday use fashion items, and others that deal with miscellaneous goods. The three floors of the 1st, 3rd, and 4th floors are the main shopping area, and inside the building where various shops are crowded together, it will naturally arouse your shopping spirit. There is a well balanced selection of shops where both the younger generation and senior citizens can be satisfied, including shops that sell casual wear and sports wear.

The charm of doing things other than shopping is one of the noteworthy things unique to Odaiba's complex. There are a variety of local restaurants that serve Japanese, Western, and Chinese cuisine. Among them, at Tokyo Ramen Kokugikan Mai that has a strong focus on ramen, there are six famous restaurants that are even known across the country. There is also Tokyo Leisureland that has tons of games featuring popular characters, and also a gigantic cinema complex, so you will never get bored even if you stay here for a long time. Also, the "Love" and "Kiss" art pieces on the three floor seaside deck are where couples love to congregate.

There is also the shopping mall Decks Tokyo Beach that is similarly located right next to the sea. This complex that feels like a theme park on a ship has about 90 stores. It is composed of two malls, Seaside Mall next to the ocean, and Island Mall that overlooks the land, and the shopping areas are on the 3rd floors of both malls, and on the 4th and 5th floors of Island Mall. There are stores lined up in a row that are fitting for a seaside mall including surf brands and sports brands.

One of the charms of Decks Tokyo Beach is also that it is complete with entertainment facilities. The three must see spots that are listed in any Tokyo guidebook include Tokyo Joypolis where you can enjoy a variety of indoor attractions, Madame Tussauds Tokyo that exhibits wax models that look exactly like celebrities, and Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo that any Lego fan has to see. To match the reproduction of a nostalgic Showa period townscape at Daiba Itchome Shotengai, you should also be able to find original items at the stores that can only be obtained here.

Aqua City Odaiba and Decks Tokyo Beach on the bayside are ideal spots to look over Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge. After fully enjoying yourself with shopping, enjoy the night view of the bay's shifting scenery starting in the evening out on the terrace of a restaurant. This is an area where you can enjoy an entire wonderful day just like that.

DECKS Tokyo Beach

A theme park on a ship DECKS Tokyo Beach is a shopping center with a ship as its motif. It has an open terrace with a wooden deck that looks like the deck of a ship. Decorations throughout the building will remind you of ships. Strolling along the deck while enjoying the sea breeze, you will feel like being on a luxury cruise ship cruising around Tokyo Bay. You can get to enjoy your meals and shopping. You can find your favorite stores! Shopping & Dining There are about 90 specialty stores and restaurants at DECKS Tokyo Beach. In addition to popular stores that carry outdoor equipment, street clothes, and children's clothing, there are many general merchandise stores that offer interesting items and perfect souvenirs of Tokyo and Odaiba. Cafes and fast food restaurants along with a variety of Japanese, Western, and Chinese restaurants offer a variety of food and beverage options. Enjoy a meal or popular sweets with a view of Tokyo Bay. A wide range of indoor entertainment facilities There are four theme parks: TOKYO-JOYPOLIS, LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER Tokyo, Madame Tussauds Tokyo, and TOKYO TRICK ART MUSEUM. In addition, there are the Odaiba Takoyaki Museum, which features popular takoyaki restaurants from all over Japan, and the retro-style Daiba 1-chome Shopping Street. You can spend a whole day there. A number of facilities are open for families, couples, and friends to enjoy all day long. “Odaiba Illumination ’YAKEI,’” one of the best night view spots in Tokyo. DECKS Tokyo Beach features “Odaiba Illumination ’YAKEI,’” a year-round presentation of lights that is rare in Japan. The Daiba Memorial Tree is one of the largest trees in Tokyo made with live trees, with a total length of approximately 200 meters and a height of approximately 20 meters. The fantastic presentation of lights with the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower in the background is also popular as one of the best spots in Tokyo to get a panoramic view of the night scenery of Tokyo Bay. Pets: Accepted only in some stores Languages available: English, Chinese, Korean

Azabujuban Shotengai A mature neighborhood that develops new ideas learned from the past and merges into a residential area

Azabujuban Shotengai still has the charm of a traditional downtown area that stands out in Minato-ku with a progressive townscape right in the heart of the city. From Azabujuban Subway Station's Gate 4, Azabujuban-dori and Patio-dori that stretch out to the west, and Zoshiki-dori that runs north and south through those two streets are all collectively called Azabujuban Shotengai.

On the streets where there are more than 300 shops, there is a landscape that reflects the general public, so you would never think that you are within walking distance of Roppongi. This shopping area develops new ideas learned from the past by having both the sort of shops that have price tags, and also stores that are opening locations in Japan for the first time. You can see people chewing on taiyaki or donuts as they walk around, and you get drawn into izakaya bars where delicious smells are wafting from. That is part of the traditional charm of downtown areas.

Azabujuban Shotengai's symbol is the Kimi-chan statue that is erected in the center of this area in Patio-Juban. "Kimi-chan" refers to Kimi Iwasaki, the model for the girl in the nursery rhyme "Red Shoes" written by Ujo Noguchi that is known for its lyrics "The girl in the red shoes ♪". In reality, Kimi who was living in an orphanage passed away at 9 years old from tuberculosis, and this statue was erected because that orphanage was in Azabujuban. If you come to this downtown area, this is a spot you have to visit.

Additionally, Azabujuban Shotengai participates in the "Minato-ku Shotengai World Stamp Rally" that is held from January 17th to March 26th. It is split into five time periods, and is held over a period of about two and a half months. If you shop at each of the designated areas in this shopping area, you will get a stamp. Each stamp corresponds to one ticket in a raffle that takes place at the Minato-ku World Carnival held at Tokyo Tower on March 29th.

There are a wide array of choices to match what you are looking for in the shopping areas of Minato-ku, Tokyo. Be sure to come to any of these spots to shop on your next day off.

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