These days, Akasaka
(赤坂) usually refers to an entirely
different place -- namely one of
's central business
districts, full of corporate
and expensive hotel
s catering to their visitors.
The Akasaka Prince Hotel
and Hotel New Otani
, in particular, are
some of Tokyo's best known.
The area is directly adjacent to Nagatacho
, one of Tokyo's prime
concentrations of bureaucracy
, and only a stone's throw
from the Imperial Palace
At night, however, the other half of Akasaka comes to life:
the blocks bounded by Sotobori-doori (外堀通り) and
Itsunoki-doori (一ッ木通り） are packed full of
expensive restaurants and nightclubs, second only to the Ginza
in swankiness. Both Japanese and international cuisine are
very well represented, with places like Tenichi for tempura and
Shabuzen for shabu-shabu, and others representing
Indonesian, French, Mexican, Russian, Indian, Italian
cuisines... you name it, you'll probably find it.
The great thing about working in Akasaka is thus that you have
a near-endless selection of places for lunch. No matter how
high their prices go in the evening -- and you really do have
to hunt for a place that will serve you a full meal for
under ¥10000 later in the day -- all these restaurants
offer excellent lunch menus for ¥1000 or so. During the
6 months we worked in Akasaka, a colleague and I made an effort
to eat lunch at a different restaurant every day, and we barely
made a dent in the list of options.
Things to See
Probably the only actual sight in Akasaka is the Hie Shrine
(日枝神社), located atop a little hill at the edge of the area.
Reached by a steep flight of stairs under a veritable
tunnel of orange torii, the shrine grounds are an oasis
of tranquility in the middle of Tokyo and, in good weather,
a popular place for a lunchtime picnic. Once a year, the shrine
holds the rather modest Sanno Matsuri (山王祭) festival,
featuring the usual panoply of music, dancing, yatai stalls and
Akasaka-Mitsuke station on the Eidan Ginza and Marunouchi
subway lines is at the edge of Akasaka. The station is connected by
a handy, if rather long, tunnel to Nagatacho station on the
Namboku, Hanzomon and Yurakucho lines.