Japan Glances


Society Culture

Roppongi is an area of varied appeal with art, nightlife, green spaces, and shopping drawing a wide range of visitors.

A Diverse Mix

Roppongi Hills. (© Jiji)

In 2003, the Roppongi Hills complex opened with the 238-meter high Mori Tower as its centerpiece. This was followed by the completion of Tokyo Midtown, another towering hotel/business complex, in 2007. With attractive restaurants, shops, and museums, these developments brought an updated, cosmopolitan sophistication to an area that over many years had acquired a reputation for the trashy pleasures of its bars and nightclubs. The two sides of Roppongi attract a diverse mix of Japanese and international visitors to its streets, where there are also many long-established eateries offering cuisines from around the world.

Before World War II, the neighborhood had numerous Imperial Army facilities and was largely populated by soldiers. The US Army requisitioned the buildings in the early postwar years, and the area gradually transformed into a lively entertainment district to meet the needs of this new population. This was the start of the area’s association with nightlife aimed particularly at foreign revelers.

A Symbol of Tokyo

Tokyo Tower can be seen from Roppongi

Tokyo Tower, one of the symbols of Japan’s capital, lies just a short distance away. The communication tower is a clearly visible and powerful presence in Roppongi and is particularly beautiful at night when it is lit up. By taxi it only costs around ¥1,000 to travel from Roppongi to Tokyo Tower, where it is possible to enjoy a view over the city from panoramic observation decks. The prices for the main observatory at 150 meters are ¥900 for adults, ¥500 for elementary and junior high school students, and ¥400 for preschool children aged four or over. Entrance fees for both the main observatory and the special observatory at 250 meters are double the prices for children and ¥1,600 for adults.

Alternatively, Roppongi Hills has the observation deck Tokyo City View at 250 meters, which costs ¥1,500 for adults, ¥1,000 for high school and university students, and ¥500 for children aged four or over to junior high school students.

Roppongi is highly urbanized, but has preserved some green spaces, including Mōri Teien, a Japanese-style garden within Roppongi Hills. The grounds stretch over 4,300 square meters, with waterfalls and streams surrounding a central pond. Cherry and ginkgo trees arranged around the garden provide a landscape for strollers that changes with the seasons. And the Green and Park section of Tokyo Midtown has a spacious lawn that is also an ideal place to relax during fine weather.

A Magnet for Art Lovers

The National Art Center, Tokyo, has the largest exhibition space of any Japanese museum.

Roppongi provides many opportunities for appreciating art as well. In particular, Suntory Museum of Art, Mori Art Museum, and The National Art Center, Tokyo together form the Roppongi Art Triangle. Visitors can receive discounts at any of these museums by presenting a used ticket from an exhibition at one of the other two museums.

Another draw for art lovers is Roppongi Art Night, which has been held in the area since 2009. Over the course of one night each year, the streets are filled with art, design, music, film, and performances. In 2015, the event took place from Saturday April 25 to Sunday April 26.

With its varying kinds of appeal to many different visitors, Roppongi’s popularity looks set to continue.

Kusama Yayoi (seated) at Roppongi Art Night 2012 and a giant Torayan breathing flame at Roppongi Art Night 2009. (Both © Jiji)

(Banner photo: Outside Roppongi Almond café. © Jiji.)

tourism Tokyo Midtown Roppongi Hills entertainment Roppongi