Hibiya, composed of a part of Yūrakuchō and Uchisaiwaichō respectively, is a small district filled with business buildings and government offices. Yet, it offers a variety of things for visitors to do and see – from art and culture to leisure and shopping. Here are 10 of the best things to do and see whilst in Hibiya.
Hibiya Park is a lush public park that has something for everyone. It has two flower gardens and a immense variety of trees – good to immerse yourself in nature for an afternoon. There are also restaurants and small food stalls selling all manner of international delights. Hibiya Outdoor Theater and Hibiya open-air concert hall both provide music and entertainment throughout the year, and there are monthly events/concerts/festivals in the park. Another popular spot in the park is the Shisei Kaikan, the Municipal Research Building in Gothic architectural style. Other facilities and spots include Park Museum, Hibiya Library, and even a hillock with a Liberty Bell, donated by the United States in 1952. Over 40 acres filled to the brim with history, culture, nature, entertainment and food – we said it had everything!
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater, a high-rise imposing theater, is the perfect introduction to Takarazuka Creative Arts at Tokyo. Formerly known as the Ernie Pyle Theater, this theater is one of the performing grounds for the Takarazuka Revue: an all-female musical troupe who perform everything from Western-inspired musicals to Japanese folklore, with women playing all parts. Definitely check out one of these unique performances when you’re in Hibiya, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!
Hibiya Station, opened in 1964, is a contact point connecting major tourists spots, business buildings and government offices. Since a lot of people are going in and out the station every day and many of them are business people who lead a hectic life, the station is decorated with art work provided by the Ginza Gallery to give a breathe of relief and some moments of art and culture amid the hustle and bustle of Hibiya.
Hibiya Chanter is a vibrant area in Hibiya, boasting a theater, a shopping center and a movie theater. There are many restaurants too, offering a wide range of food to cater to different dining needs including vegetarian and vegan. Apart from shopping and dining, the main draw for tourists is the Godzilla statue. Unlike what you may have expected, the Hibiya Godzilla is in miniature size (around 3 feet tall).
Passing by the Godzilla statue at Hibiya Chanter, you will then see hand prints under your feet. It’s Toho Walk of Fame! Like other Walks of Fame around the world, the Toho Walk of Fame has the hands of famous Japanese actors, such as Toshiro Mifune and Akira Takarada, embedded in metal slabs along the ground. The perfect way to round off your movie-inspired tour of the Hibiya Center.
There have been three Imperial Hotels on and around the site of the current building, overlooking the Imperial Palace and Hibiya park. The first, designed and built in 1890, was destroyed in a fire just 40 years later. The second ‘Maya Revival Style’ grand building was designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and enjoyed a colorful history, surviving two legendary earthquakes and the Second World War. However, the years eventually took their toll and the second reincarnation of the Imperial Hotel was controversially demolished in 1967 to be replaced with the high rise structure that stands there today. Though lacking the ornate grandeur of the two previous hotels, the third and current structure is striking in its size and mass: with 772 rooms and a 17 story tower (known as the Imperial Tower), the Imperial Hotel is a monument to Japanese modernity and endurance.
One of the grander restaurants in the area, Hibiya Palace is a European restaurant located in the grounds of Hibiya park. With three floors, each with large windows and the bottom with a garden terrace, there is no restaurant in Hibiya with better scenery. The food is simple and fresh, arranged beautifully so it looks as good as it tastes. The food and the location are both so opulent, the restaurant is often booked out for weddings over the weekend.
Regarded as an important cultural asset to Japan in 1994, the Ministry of Justice Museum-Message Gallery is immediately recognizable by its red brick building. Inside, there is a restored residential and dining hall of former officials. You will also find a wide collection of legal documents regarding interesting court cases. With the thematic exhibition at the gallery corner, you will get to know the history of the Ministry as well as the judicial system in Japan.
Nissay Theater, located in the Nissay Hibiya Building opposite Hibiya Park, is a theater that promotes and pursues a high standard of performing art. The architectural design of this historic theater allows you to immerse yourself in Japanese art and culture. The space it occupies is huge, and is designed as very open so with the vast stone walls you feel like you’re in an immense cave, except with lush red velvet seats and a stage! Spend an evening watching a musical, kabuki or opera to experience this architectural and artistic gem.
At the Japan Sake Center you can taste a wide selection of high quality sake while enriching your knowledge about sake and Japanese liquor. Since different kinds of Japan sake are used for celebration in different festivals and seasons, getting to know Japan sake is another fun way to learn Japanese cultures too! In the center, you can also find videos and flyers that teach you how to make your own sake. Perfect for the sake-lover who wants to take his/her appreciation to the next level.