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Nogizaka, Nambuzaka, Yureizaka: Walking Around Minato, Tokyo, "The City of Slopes" From Five Perspectives

The geography of Minato Ward is mainly divided into the Musashino Plateau in the West and the Bay Area in the East. The city, built on geography with many elevation differences, has many slopes. More than 70 wooden guides stand. It is said that there are more than 100 slopes in Minato Ward.

Daikokuzaka, Kurayamizaka, and Ipponmatsuzaka merging into one in Motoazabu

What is interesting is that the slopes in Minato Ward were named long ago in the Medieval Era and Edo Period. Some of the names of places from which the names of the existing slopes were derived are written on historical maps from the Edo period.

<[Edo Kiriezu]. Akasakaezu> (Part) From the National Diet Library Digital Collection

Many names of the slopes are derived from the spots, stores, and events that happened here. "Kinokunizaka" was closeby the residence of Kishu Tokugawa Family. "Hottazaka" was the road that led to the lower residence of Hotta, the feudal lord of Sakura until the end of the Shogunate. Many slopes related to Daimyo residences remain in Minato Ward.

Nogizaka 46, Sakurazaka 46, Hinatazaka 46… All these groups were derived from Minato Ward

2011-debuting idol group Nogizaka 46 and sister groups Sakurazaka 46 and Hinatazaka 46 are called "Sakamichi Series." Did you know that the slopes where the group names were derived from are all located in Minato Ward?

The first slope is "Nogizaka," close to Nogizaka Station. This slope ran close to the former office of the production company of Nogizaka 46 and is a road with heavy traffic.

Many slopes in Minato Ward have names from Medieval times, but this slope was called Nadare Slope, Yukiai Slope, or Hizaori Slope. Until the Meiji era, the slope was called Yurei Slope. The residence of Meiji Shogun Maresuke Nogi was located by the slope. However, the slope was renamed Nogizaka to pay respect to Shogun Nogi after his death.

The Nogi Shrine which was built in 1923 and enshrines Shogun Nogi, stands close by. The shrine is famous for Nogizaka 46 members participating in the Coming of Age Ceremony every January. It has become a "pilgrimage" spot for Nogizaka fans.

Next, "Sakurazaka," which is the origin of Sakurazaka 46, is in the South of "Roppongi Keyaki Street" within Roppongi Hills. Compared to "Keyakizaka," a famous spot in Roppongi and the name where former group Keyakizaka 46 got its name from, Sakurazaka has a quiet atmosphere.

Someiyoshino cherry blossoms are planted along both sides of the street, and they bloom in the Spring, just like the name, "Sakurazaka." Also, "Sakurazaka Park," also known as "Roborobo Park," is along the slope. The unique park has robot sculptures and 10 slides.

Hinatazaka, where Hinatazaka 46 got its name from, is in between Mita 1-chome and 2-chome. It is a three-minute walk from Exit 2 of Azabu Juban Station, just ahead of Ninohashi over Furukawa.

Its correct name is not "Hinatazaka" but "Hyugazaka." In the early Edo Period, there was the residence of Tokuyama Domain Hyugamori Mori.

The slope that appears in Chushingura! A must-go slope for history lovers.

Every slope in Minato has a profound history. Of those, some names of slopes are derived from Watanabe-no-Tsuna, a samurai in the mid-Heian Era. He served samurai Minamoto-no-Yorimitsu and was one of the "Yorimitsu Shitenno" along with Kintaro model, Sakata-no-Kimitoki. He is known to have beaten Shutendoshi and fought against Oni at Rashomon.

Tsunasaka and "Tsunanotebikizaka," close to Hyugazaka, were named because the house of Watanabe-no-Tsuna was nearby. Also, "Dokizaka," a three-minute walk from Akabanebashi station, is said that it was named that way because Watanabe-no-Tsuna bought a riverbank-haired horse there.

On the other hand, "Nambuzaka," close to Roppongi Icchome station and Tameikesannno Station, was the setting of the famous "Nambuzaka Yuki no Wakare" scene of 'Chushingura,' a show based on the Raid of Akoroshi. The Asano Tosamamori residence, where Reizeiin lived after the seppuku suicide of her husband, Asano Takuminokami, was just by this slope. And on the day before the raid, Oishi Kuranosuke said farewell to the wife of his lord and walked down the snowy slope.

This is a dramatized story created afterward, but many Chushingura fans visit the slope. By the way, there are two "Nambuzakas" in Minato Ward. The Nambuzaka related to Chushingura is not the Nambuzaka of Minami Azabu, but the Nambuzaka of Akasaka, so keep that in mind.

Korobizaka, Yureizaka, and other slopes with rare names

Next, I would like to pick up three slopes with unique names. The first slope is in Akasaka 6-chome, called "Korobizaka." As it is named, it was easy to trip while walking this rugged road during the Edo Period.

Nowadays, the road is paved and is easy to walk, but you can see that the slope is bumpy if you look from the bottom, and it is not hard to imagine how hard it was to walk this slope long ago. Nearby, there is the Nambuzaka, the Katsu Kaishu Residence with sculptures of Katsu Kaishu and Sakamoto Ryoma. Also, Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, which is close to the slope, would be a must-see for history lovers.

Kurayamizaka, which is close to Azabu Juban Station, is a narrow slope with traffic. If you go up the slope there are "Warning" and "Slow Down" signs. That is because the top of the slope has a curve and is covered with trees, making it "darker" even in the daytime.

Yureizaka, nearby Shirokane Takanawa Station, is one of the seven Yureizakas in Tokyo. Many temples such as Zuioji, Ninganji, Butsuoji, and Gyokuhoji surround the slope. Because of its melancholic atmosphere, it is said to have been named Yureizaka. On the top of the slope are two parks that explain the history of this land, Kamezuka Park and Mitadai Park

Slopes with names of Tanukis, Foxes, Snakes, and Animals

There are many slopes with names of animals in Minato Ward. The first one I will introduce is "Tanukizaka," close to the already introduced Kurayamizaka.

The slope was named that way because a tanuki that deceives humans appeared in the area. The slope, which runs through a residential area is quite steep and is not easy to walk up.

By the way, further up the slope is another slope named "Kitsunezaka." This slope has a new guidepost that was built last year and is said that a fox appeared close by. Getting deceived by a fox after a tanuki… The two slopes have a strange connection, but they are in a calm neighborhood, so no worries.

Another animal-named slope along Sakurada Street near Yureizaka is "Hebizaka." It was named after a snake that appeared in the closeby ravines. If you go there yourself, you can see that the slope is narrow, wide enough for one car, and its shape is long like a snake.

Slopes with great sceneries of Tokyo Tower

Lastly, I would like to introduce three slopes with great scenes of Tokyo Tower

The first slope is "Keyakizaka" in Roppongi Hills. The 400-meter slope is a great location to look at Tokyo Tower in the East. The scenery of tree-lined streets and Tokyo Tower is a fascinating view. The Christmas illumination held every year is becoming a regular Winter event.

Moreover, "Nagaizaka" and "Kiritoshizaka" in Shiba Park, right under the tower, are recommended. You can see many views of Tokyo Tower around Shiba Park. However, these two viewpoints can give you a great scene with a clean composition.
That's the end of our slope tour in Minato, Tokyo. How was it? Knowing the names of slopes and spots nearby would make a great day of sightseeing.

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