The Marunouchi district is located in the heart of Japan, sandwiched between the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station. It is a sophisticated area that spans about 1.2 square kilometers.
Four centuries ago during the Edo period, Marunouchi was the site of Edo Castle--home of the shogun--and the entire area was surrounded by a circular moat. The characters maru-no-uchi literally mean “inside the circle”, so the round moat is how the district got its name. The various parcels inside the moat were once occupied by daimyo mansions, but these were cleared out during the Meiji Restoration of 1868 when the land was taken over by the national government. When the government decided to sell it in 1890, the entire parcel was purchased by the second head of the Mitsubishi company, who saw the need for a modern business district that would put Japan on par with the nations of the West. Marunouchi was transformed from an elite samurai quarter to a business hub of red-brick buildings bearing the nickname “The London Block.”
The original Mitsubishi Ichigokan building at the time of its completion in 1894
The Mitsubishi Ichigokan, which was restored and completed in 2009
Tokyo Station opened its doors in 1914, and Marunouchi was soon home to many modern American-style buildings as well. This inspired a new nickname: “The New York Block.” Following the Second World War and Japan’s economic boom, modern office buildings began to replace the red-brick structures as area continued to evolve in response to the changing lifestyles leading up to the 21st century.
Before long, the office district diversified into a hub of cosmopolitan exchange, complete with shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, facilities for conferences and events, and more.
The greenspaces adjacent to the Imperial Palace now boast the highest concentration of five-star hotels in Japan. There are also numerous restaurants showcasing the talents of Japan’s top chefs. Marunouchi gives visitors access to unique venues, art museums housing exquisite collections of Japan’s national treasures, jogs through the beautiful Imperial Gardens, and countless other charms.
With so much to offer, the area has become the location of choice for organizers of meetings, incentive tours, conventions, and exhibitions (collectively known as MICE events).
Where is Marunouchi?
Located nearly in the center of Tokyo, which is the center of Japan, Marunouchi is adjacent to world-famous capital districts like Ginza and Roppongi. It is also blessed with lush nearby greenspaces like the Imperial Outer Garden and Hibiya Park.
Marunouchi at a glance
1Location, location, location
Marunouchi is one of the best traffic hubs in Japan with access to Tokyo Station, the terminal for Bullet trains, as well as other train stations.
Tokyo Station is easily accessible from cities throughout Japan and from both Haneda and Narita airports.
2Extensive venue options
Marunouchi offers within walking distance a high concentration of some of the capital’s largest international conference venues as well as and unique venues and premium hotels that have earned a five-star ranking from the Forbes Travel Guide.
3A hub of international commerce
Marunouchi is home to more Fortune Global 500 company headquarters than any other district in the world. And with more than four thousand other company offices of every description boasting a Marunouchi address, there is an almost unlimited potential for business networking during MICE events.
4Clean and safe
The Economist has declared Tokyo the world’s safest city several years in a row, but the charm of Marunouchi goes beyond safety. There are also Marunouchi Ambassadors appointed to keep the area in pristine condition so that its visitors can experience warm hospitality at every turn.
5A peerless district adjacent to the Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor of Japan. The Eastern Imperial Gardens attract tourists from all over the world to admire its historic castle gate, stone walls, and beautiful landscaping. The five-kilometer track that runs along the perimeter of the Kokyo Gaien National Garden is a popular jogging spot. Those who come to Marunouchi for business meetings can readily enjoy the surroundings during breaks.
6Refreshing outdoor spaces
Marunouchi-Nakadori Street hosts a variety of events daily, as people come to take advantage of the Urban Terrace (an area dedicated to pedestrian traffic) and its other refreshing outdoor spaces.
Marunouchi’s restaurants alone make for a spectacular evening experience, but the area is also known for its extensive nightlife options, including unique entertainment and music venues.
8A dining paradise
The many restaurants showcasing Japan’s top chefs aren’t the only gourmet attraction in Marunouchi. Visitors here can enjoy its cafés, food trucks, and world cuisines as well. With so many food options, the biggest challenge is deciding which to choose!
9The perfect place for a stroll
With charming shops and relaxing greenspaces scattered throughout the area, there’s no better part of the city to enjoy a leisurely stroll. The beautifully landscaped streets of Marunouchi are a delight for the senses.
10Art and museums
Art is part of the fabric of Marunouchi, from the street art displayed along Marunouchi-Nakadori Street to its distinctive museums and historical architecture. Visitors will never run out of things to photograph here.