Located in the Minato area in central Tokyo, Azabu Juban is a bustling neighborhood that offers visitors a glimpse into Tokyo’s rich history, local culture, and culinary delights. With its quaint streets, fashionable shops, and vibrant nightlife, this charming area has something to offer everyone. Let’s take a closer look at the area’s history, attractions, dining options, and cultural experiences.
History of Azabu Juban
The history of Azabu Juban dates back to the Edo period when it was a small fishing village. It gradually transformed into a residential area for samurai and aristocrats. In the post-World War II era, the neighborhood developed into a commercial hub due to its proximity to embassies and foreign residents.
Edo Period Origins
Azabu Juban traces its origins to the Edo period, its name is a combination of the Azabu district and ‘Juban,’ meaning ‘ten’ in Japanese. This name was chosen because Azabu Juban was designated as the tenth ward among the fifteen city wards that were established in 1878.
During the Edo period, Azabu Juban was a critical junction for traders. The area’s strategic location facilitated the transportation of goods across Edo, which contributed to its growth and prominence.
As Azabu Juban evolved, it became a preferred residential area for samurais and the nobility. The allure of the district stemmed from its serene surroundings, which provided a peaceful retreat while still offering easy access to the city’s bustling centers.
Post-World War II Developments
After Japan’s surrender in 1945, many embassies and foreign companies established offices in Azabu Juban due to its central location and easy access to Tokyo’s business districts. The area quickly became a cosmopolitan hub with Western-style architecture, trendy cafes, and fashionable boutiques.
Today, Azabu Juban is a bustling neighborhood with a diverse range of shops and restaurants. The area is known for its international community and is a popular spot for expats and tourists alike. Visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisine, from traditional Japanese dishes to international cuisine, and can explore the neighborhood’s many shops and boutiques.
One of the area’s most famous landmarks is the Azabu Juban Shotengai, a shopping street that stretches for over 300 meters. The street is lined with shops selling everything from fresh produce to clothing and accessories. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of street food and snacks, including taiyaki, a popular Japanese fish-shaped cake.
Overall, Azabu Juban is a unique and vibrant neighborhood that offers a glimpse into Tokyo’s rich history and international culture.
Key Attractions and Landmarks
Azabu Juban has a wide range of attractions and landmarks that reflect the neighborhood’s unique blend of tradition and modernity. Here are some of the must-see places to visit:
Azabu Juban Shopping Street
Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Azabu Juban Shopping Street is a vibrant street lined with over 200 shops, restaurants, and cafes. The street’s retro-style architecture, traditional Japanese lanterns, and trendy boutiques make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
As you stroll down the street, you’ll be greeted by the tantalizing aromas of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods. The cafes and bakeries offer a wide range of treats, from classic Japanese sweets like mochi and dorayaki to European-style pastries like croissants and macarons. If you’re in the mood for something savory, there are plenty of options as well. You can try some traditional Japanese dishes like sushi and ramen or sample some international cuisine like Italian and French.
Roppongi Hills, a stone’s throw from Azabu Juban, stands as a monument to modern urban sophistication. This integrated property development fuses lifestyle and culture, housing high-end boutiques, renowned restaurants, a cutting-edge cinema, and the iconic Mori Art Museum.
The complex offers a unique blend of art, leisure, and shopping experiences. A must-visit is the outdoor Sky Deck, situated atop the Mori Tower, offering a breath-taking, panoramic view of Tokyo. Despite its modernity, Roppongi Hills also offers glimpses of tradition, hosting seasonal events like cherry blossom viewings.
Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park
Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park is a vast oasis of greenery and serenity in the heart of Tokyo. The park’s majestic trees, cherry blossoms, and tranquil pond offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can relax on the lawns, enjoy a peaceful walk around the lake, or explore the park’s many hiking trails.
The park is also home to several historic buildings and landmarks, including the former residence of Prince Arisugawa-no-miya, a member of the Japanese imperial family. The residence has been preserved as a museum and offers a glimpse into the life of the Japanese aristocracy during the Meiji era.
Tokyo Tower is a famous landmark in Tokyo that offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. Standing at 333 meters, it is the tallest self-supporting steel tower in the world. Visitors can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Tokyo from the observation deck, dine at one of the tower’s restaurants, or take a stroll through the aquarium located at the tower’s base.
Local Cuisine and Dining Options
Azabu Juban is a foodie’s paradise, with a plethora of dining options that cater to all tastes and preferences. The neighborhood is known for its culinary diversity, which ranges from traditional Japanese eateries to international cuisine. Here are some additional dining options to try:
Azabu Juban is home to some of the best traditional Japanese restaurants in Tokyo. Visitors can indulge in a variety of exquisite dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Takishita in Azabu-Juban is a crowd favorite, renowned for its delectable grilled fish dishes, especially their reasonably priced lunch set. Their signature dish, the ‘Grilled Blackthroat Seaperch with Yuzu Fragrance’, is a unique culinary delight featuring plump, crisply grilled fish that can be savored with a touch of lemon and grated radish.
For a truly authentic experience, try Abechan a historic yakitori restaurant in Azabu-Juban, celebrated for its grilled pork and chicken skewers as well as simmered offal, all meticulously prepared and served in generous portions. They offer a perfect pairing of their sweet and spicy skewers with beer, and also provide a takeout option for enjoying their delicious offerings at home.
Azabu Juban is a melting pot of international flavors, with a wide range of options to choose from. If you’re looking for a casual Italian cuisine, check out Grill & Pasta es Azabu-Juban known for its homemade pasta and grilled dishes. The meals here are generally quite filling. Located on the 1st and 2nd floors of a building near Azabu-Juban station, Prego is a well-established Italian restaurant founded in 1987. It’s known for its hot pizzas cooked on an iron plate and salads made with plenty of Kamakura vegetables.
For French-inspired dishes, the restaurant Kamatsuda is renowned for its cuisine made with ingredients from the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. The dishes at “Kamatsuda” are all simple and beautiful. The chef’s mastery is truly evident in the way sauces are used, a testament to his profound understanding of the ingredients’ flavors. The restaurant boasts an open kitchen layout, allowing patrons to observe the chef’s culinary artistry right from their seats. This intimate glimpse into the professional process is indeed one of the unique charms of this place.
Street Food and Snack Vendors
Azabu Juban is also home to many street food vendors that offer quick and tasty snacks. For a unique culinary experience, try out some of the local favorites. Naniwaya is a long-standing shop in Azabu-Juban that sells taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with sweet bean paste. The shop was founded in 1909 and has been serving up delicious taiyaki ever since. In addition to taiyaki, Naniwaya also sells a variety of other Japanese desserts, such as kakigori (shaved ice), anmitsu (a sweet jelly dessert), and azuwich (a sandwich made with taiyaki dough).
Cultural Experiences and Events
Azabu Juban is home to many cultural experiences and events that showcase the neighborhood’s unique mix of modern and traditional Japan. Here are some of the highlights:
Azabu Juban Noryo Festival
The Azabu Juban Noryo Festival is a lively summer festival that takes place on the shopping street and features food stalls, traditional performances, and fireworks. Visitors can see festival-goers in yukata (Japanese summer attire), play traditional carnival games, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Take no Yu is a quaint onsen in Azabu Juban that has been operating since 1913. Its unique ‘black beauty’ water is minimally filtered, thus maintaining volcanic ash and peat contents from the original ‘radium’ water.
Adults (Junior High School students and above) Children (Elementary School students and below)
- Bathing fee: 500 yen for adults, 180 yen for children, 80 yen for preschool children
- Sauna use fee: 950 yen for adults, not available for children
- Face towel rental: 250 yen
Azabu Juban is a neighborhood that offers visitors a unique way to experience Tokyo’s rich history, local culture, and culinary delights. With its charming streets, trendy boutiques, and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone in this lively area. If you’re contemplating a move and looking for a place that offers both traditional Japanese cuisine and international flavors, peaceful parks and vibrant festivals, Azabu Juban should be at the top of your list. This neighborhood promises a living experience that’s both rich in culture and full of unforgettable moments.