European Community in Historic Tokyo
Yotsuya, Ichigaya, Bancho, and Iidabashi are located between both Shinjuku and Chiyoda wards, geographically in the center of Tokyo in what was the historical command post for the nation a few hundred years ago. Although this area is Tokyo central, you can find distinctively charming neighborhoods, and surprisingly quiet residential areas. These areas have consistently been the favorites of European residents, especially French expats because of the nearby Lycee Franco-Japonais School (located between Iidabashi and Kudanshita). This is the place for those who are looking for traditional Japan with a slice of European charm.
A Brief History
You won’t get much closer to historical Japan then the Imperial Palace. Around the turn of the 16th century, (the Edo period) the district that is now the Imperial grounds became the center of national affairs. Under the rule of Ieyasu Tokugawa the city of Tokyo (called Edo at the time), grew at breakneck speeds out from the center. Even today, at the center of the capital of modern Japan, the Imperial palace and its expansive grounds visually dominate Chiyoda ward. For residents and new comers alike the grand gates, the moat of the palace, and the Marunouchi office quarters to the east of Tokyo station offer a glimpse of the past and can be quite fascinating.
Shopping & Recreation
Being in such a central location with a mix of old and new urban styles, has blessed this area with a selection of parks, attractions, and historical landmarks for both residents and visitors. To the southeast, lie the Imperial Palace grounds where in the springtime many joggers enjoy the pretty cherry blossoms around the outer moat of the Imperial Palace. To the south, there is Geihinkan State Guest House and the Meiji Shrine outer gardens. Shinjuku Gardens, one of the cities best kept parks with both Japanese and European gardens, is located on the west side of this area close to Shinjuku. One of the most famous and politically volatile shrines; Yasukuni Shrine is on the east side. For sports or recreation, Tokyo Dome and Korakuen Amusement Park are located in the northern part of this area.
Perhaps one of the reasons this area is popular among Europeans is because this is the home of some of the city’s finest French restaurants.
Shopping is never a problem in the Yotsuya or Ichigaya area. Marubiru is Marunouchi’s new landmark office and shopping complex in front of Tokyo Station. The complex opened in 2002 and boasts some 140 specialty shops and numerous restaurants on floors B1 to 6 as well as on the two top floors 35 and 36. Apart from Marubiru and the local shops and supermarkets, this area is minutes from the major shopping districts of Aoyama, Shinjuku, and Ginza.
The Residential Areas – Orientation
These residential areas are located in the heart of Tokyo, on the border between Shinjuku and Chiyoda Wards, and also where you will find the Imperial Palace, Diet Building, many Government Offices, and Tokyo station. Looking at a map it is easy to see the networks of trains and streets which circle out from the Imperial Palace. There is also a vast network of trains throughout Tokyo stretching out from Tokyo Station to all parts of Japan. This has made Tokyo station more of a transfer point than a destination.
Within minutes of Tokyo and Shinjuku Stations these areas offer convenient access to all business districts and just about anywhere. The area is serviced by four train and subway lines (Yurakucho, Marunouchi, Namboku, and the JR Sobu line), with 12 stations and easy access to Lycee Franco-Japonais.
There are some distinctively attractive neighborhoods in this area. Ichigaya and Bancho are the most popular residential neighborhoods for expats. Located to the north and south of Ichigaya station, this area is home to many of Tokyo’s prominent politicians and very close to Lycee Franco-Japonais. You will find pricy upscale apartments and homes in this area despite the lack of greenery and mix of commercial buildings. Yotsuya offers mostly apartments in quiet communities with narrow streets and is perhaps the most well-known of these areas for fine dining and having one of the best-connected train stations in the city. It has 4 train lines (Marunouchi, Namboku, JR Sobu, Chuo lines), and is just minutes from both Shinjuku and Tokyo stations.