Shiodome, the onetime railway center of Tokyo, has blossomed into one of the city’s most modern and important financial districts. We spent a day wandering around its skyscrapers, like ants in the presence of giants.
Just like Ginza, the neighborhood immediately to its north, Shiodome was originally swamp land, filled on the orders of Lord Tokugawa in the early seventeenth century. In 1872, during the Meiji Era, Shiodome became the terminal of Japan’s first railway line. With the closure of the train station in 1986 and the dismantling of its yards, a prime piece of real estate opened up, and Tokyo decided to build what Tokyo builds best: skyscrapers. Today, Shiodome is home to the headquarters of some of Japan’s biggest firms, including Fujitsu, All Nippon Air, Bandai, Dentsu and Softbank.
We were visiting on a Sunday, when Shiodome was taking a breather from the standard corporate hustle, so we didn’t really experience its true spirit. But that was fine. While in Tokyo, we wouldn’t exactly be suffering from a lack of “crushing crowds of businessmen,” and it was fun to have this ultra-modern skyscraper park largely to ourselves.
For lunch, we went to the top of the sleek Dentsu building, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Tokyo. Though we had expected outrageous prices, we found an excellent and extremely reasonable meal at a restaurant dedicated to the cuisine of Hokkaido. The view from here was perhaps even better than that of the SkyTree; not nearly as high, but closer to the city and far less crowded.
In the bottom levels of the nearby Caretta Building we came across the Advertising Museum of Tokyo (ADMT). With engaging exhibitions that take visitors on a chronological journey through the history of Japanese advertising from the 1700s into the present day, the museum is a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the interactive booths where you could view television ads from throughout the years. Did you know that Orson Welles did an ad for Japanese whiskey? He did, and it’s as awesome as you’d expect. The ADMT is sponsored by Dentsu, Japan’s leading advertising firm, and is free to visit. Fair enough, considering that, while inside, you’ll be watching advertisements.
Before leaving Shiodome, we made sure to watch the hour strike at a giant copper clock outside the Nippon Television Building. Presented by Studio Ghibli, this clock marks the hour with a clanking, noisy show of copper robots, puffing engines and and tinpail percussion… like something straight out of a steampunk anime flick.