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[For Tourists] Direct connection from Haneda Airport by monorail! The "Shiba-Daimon Golden Route" to visit at Hamamatsucho Station, the gateway to central Tokyo

The Tokyo Monorail is one of the main routes getting from Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) to central Tokyo. Hamamatsucho Station, the terminal of the Tokyo Monorail, is the "Gateway to Central Tokyo" directly connected to the JR train station. While Hamamatsucho Station is convenient for access to all parts of Tokyo, the Shiba-Daimon area, where the station is located, is also popular among foreign tourists for its unique scenery. In this article, under the title of "Shiba-Daimon Golden Route," we will guide you to the interesting places that you should not miss when you come to Hamamatsucho Station. Here are some of the "This is Japan" spots between Hamamatsucho Station and Tokyo Tower!

Start your walk at Tokyo Monorail Hamamatsucho Station!

Hamamatsucho Station is a 14-minute ride from Haneda Airport's Terminal 3, where international flights arrive. The monorail leaves the airport and passes between skyscrapers before arriving at its final stop, Hamamatsucho Station. The ticket gate is on the 3rd floor, down the stairs from the platform on the 5th floor of the building. You can transfer directly to the JR line, but this time we left the ticket gate here and went for a walk in the Shiba/Daimon area. It is a 20-minute walk from here to the Tokyo Tower, but we will take our time to reach the goal while making various stops along the way.

If you have any questions about sightseeing in the area, please stop by the Minato City Tourist Information Center on the same floor as the ticket gate. This is a tourist information center operated by the Minato City Tourist Association. English-speaking staff is there to provide information on how to get to tourist spots, accommodations, restaurants, etc. (Korean-speaking staff also work here some days).

Free Wi-Fi is available, and English, Korean, and Chinese versions of sightseeing maps are distributed. If you have large luggage, lockers (charged) are available on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building.

Take a stroll in the Daimyo Garden and enjoy Japanese natural scenery

As you step out of the building, you will see JR Hamamatsucho Station with the Shinkansen and trains passing by on the elevated tracks on your right, and the Shiba/Daimon area on your left with Tokyo Tower in the background. First, let's proceed toward the right and visit the Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens, located right next to JR Hamamatsucho Station.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the political center of Japan was located in Edo (present-day Tokyo) for the first time by the unification of the country under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The daimyos (feudal lords) of each domain serving the Tokugawa Shogunate were given fiefdoms within the city of Edo (present-day Tokyo), where they built their daimyo residences. The area where Minato Ward is located today was close to Edo Castle, and many daimyo residences were built there. Many of the daimyo's residences had splendid daimyo gardens, in which each domain used its own garden construction techniques to the fullest extent.

During the Edo period, there were several hundred daimyo gardens in Edo alone, but most of them were dismantled during the transition from Edo to Tokyo, and only 23 gardens are still in existence. One of them is the "Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens," which is estimated to have been created between 1678 and 1686 in the residence of Tadatomo Okubo, a member of the Shogun's council of elders.

A kaiyushiki fountain garden is a style of garden where visitors can stroll around a pond and enjoy the scenery through a large garden. The garden here is a typical example. Visitors can sit on the benches provided along the walking paths and enjoy the scenery from various angles. The Japanese-style natural scenery can be enjoyed throughout the four seasons, especially during the cherry blossom season from late March to early April and the autumn foliage season from late November to early December.

Enjoy gourmet food from century-old stores in the historic shopping district

After seeing the Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens, let's head in the direction of Tokyo Tower. The Hamamatsucho Station area has been an office district for a long time, so during the daytime on weekdays, there is a busy atmosphere full of business people and tourists. As a result, there are many gourmet spots to satisfy the stomachs of working people. For example, the "Shiba Shinmei Shopping Street" on the right after crossing the first intersection is another neighborhood with many popular restaurants.

While retaining the atmosphere of an old-fashioned shopping street, the Shibajinmei Shopping Center has both old stores that have been around for over 100 years and new urban stores. There are casual restaurants and bars, and you can find delicious gourmet food whether you visit during the day or at night.

Among them, if you are looking for a traditional Japanese gourmet dish, we recommend the soba noodles available at "Shiba Daimon Sarashina Nunoya," which was established in 1791. The nihachi-soba, made with 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour, is a "taste of Edo" that has been loved for over 200 years. For something sweet, we recommend the Enoshima monaka available at "Shiba Shinmei Eitaro," which was established in 1885. The shell-shaped monaka (Japanese confectionery made by sandwiching red bean paste between two pieces of rice cake skin) is very cute-looking. Why not enjoy the taste of Edo craftsmanship?

First visit to a shrine at Shiba Daijingu Shrine, which has a history of more than 1000 years

Walking along the Shiba Shinmei shopping street, you will arrive at a corner surrounded by a tranquil atmosphere. Shiba Daijingu Shrine, with its impressive white path, was founded more than 1000 years ago in 1005.

The main deities worshipped at this shrine are Amaterasu Omikami, the highest of the eight million deities in Shinto, and Toyouke Omikami, the god of food and industry. Because of its history of being worshipped by many people, the shrine is also one of the most prestigious of the "Tokyo Jyusha" (ten shrines in Tokyo), a famous place of worship among Tokyo shrines.

If you are interested, you can pass through the torii gate and visit the main shrine. When visiting a shrine in Japan, the basic manners are to purify your hands with water from the handbasin on the shrine grounds, put your money in the money-offering box, bow twice (nirei), clap twice (nihaku), and bow once (nirei). We're sure that this experience will be one of the most unique memories in Japan you will have.

Shiba-daijingu Shrine

According to the shrine's history, it is one of several ancient shrines in the city used to house the divided spirits (bunrei) of the Ise Shrine during the middle of the Heian Period. It got its name of Shiba-daijingu starting from the Meiji Period, before which it was called by other names including Iikura-shinmeigu and Shiba-shinmeigu. The name of Shiba-shinmeigu is known for the famous "Megumi Fight" that took place in March 1805 inside the shrine, where Kanjin-sumo wrestlers such as Yotsuguruma Daihachi and Mizuhiki Seigorou fought with the Megumi-no-tobi, a group of firefighters who considered the area their territory. Even back then, the Minato ward lying in front of the shrine's gates was a lively business district. During the Edo Period, the shrine was a thriving venue for entertainment such as sumo matches and theatrical performances, which were allowed in the shrine grounds. The theater was a type of Edo-sannomiya theater, and is said to have been first held inside Shiba-shinmei in 1645. In September of every year, the "Daradara Festival", an event supposedly named due to its long duration (daradara means lengthy), is held, during which ginger is widely sold inside the shrine and its vicinity, giving the shrine its nickname as the "Ginger Market". As famous as the "Betterazuke market" of Kodenma-cho, the festival was such an enjoyable event for Edo commoners that it was even depicted in ukiyo-e art. During the festival, ginger, chigibako, and amazake are sold. Chigibakos are oval boxes made of cypress, said to bring additional clothing when put into a cabinet, a good luck charm of sorts, whose name comes from the idea of a thousand pieces of wood (chigi) leading to a thousand pieces of clothing (chigi). Beneath the stairway is a savings mound built to commemorate Makino Motojirou's achievements in establishing the Real-estate and Savings Bank (Fudo-chokin-ginkou).

Be overwhelmed by the scale of temple architecture at Tokugawa's family temple

Continuing toward Tokyo Tower, you will see the huge Sankai-mon Gate of Zojoji Temple at the end of a street lined with cafes and other shops.

Zojoji Temple, founded in 1393, became the family temple of the Tokugawa family (the temple where the graves of the Tokugawa family are located) after Ieyasu Tokugawa arrived in Edo in 1590, and was moved to its current location. The impressive, 21-meter-high Sangedatsumon gate was built in 1622 and is the only building in the temple remaining from the early Edo period. The vermilion-lacquered gate, which means "liberation from the three worldly desires of greed, anger, and foolishness," is both solemn and very photogenic!

The vast precincts of the temple are dotted with buildings such as the huge hall in the center with the temple bell, which is one of the three most famous bells in Edo, the Jiunkaku, and the Angokuden. On the other hand, just past the Sangedatsumon gate, there is the "Grant Pine Tree" planted by General Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, when he visited Japan in 1879. Nearby is the "Bush Pine Tree" planted by George Bush, the 41st President of the United States, during his visit to Japan in 1982, making this a spot where visitors can feel the connection between Japan and the United States.

On the other hand, in the western corner of the temple, visitors can see a unique view of the "Sentai Kosodate Jizo Bosatsu". The numerous Jizo Buddha statues, which were erected by parishioners to wish for the healthy growth of their children and grandchildren, are all dressed in different clothes and each one is charming. You will want to take a picture of it!

After passing through Shiba Park, we reach our goal, the Tokyo Tower!

The last park to introduce is Shiba Park, which surrounds Zojoji Temple.

Shiba Park was opened in 1873 as one of the first parks in Japan and boasts an area of 122,000 square meters with various monuments, including a statue of Commodore Perry (Matthew Perry), who helped open Japan to the outside world during the Edo period. The park also features the "Peace Lamp," a collection of lights from Hiroshima and Nagasaki that wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons and lasting world peace. The vast park overlooking Tokyo Tower is also a great place to rest your weary feet after a long day of walking. If you have time, be sure to stop by.

Once you have walked to Zojoji Temple, Tokyo Tower is just around the corner. At the end of the walk, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city of Tokyo. We hope we have conveyed the "Shiba-Daimon Golden Route" well enough. If you find your favorite view, we would be happy if you could share it on social networking sites.

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