Tokyo Overview and Introduction to the 5 CBD`s
Tokyo Overview and
the 5 Central Business Districts
Tokyo provides one of the most compelling and largest real estate markets in the world: a hyper-urban metropolis at the cutting-edge of fashion, technology, and architecture, with a populace driven by a shared passion for innovation and reinvention. Tokyo’s vast and highly-efficient transportation network is the envy of other developed cities, and with such superior connectivity tapping into the immense population of over 13 million residents and 2.5 million commuters from nearby cities, the greater metropolitan area poses manifold real estate investment opportunities.
The majority of both foreign and domestic investment is centered on the Tokyo CBD (Central Business District), comprised of what is known in Japanese as the “Toushin 5-ku”, the five main wards are Chiyoda, Minato, Chuo, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. The three wards of Shinagawa, Meguro, and Bunkyo which nowadays are known as the "Outer CBD ward", also provide many attractive areas for investment, as do a growing number of areas on the city fringes that typically offer higher yields and greater returns. As Tokyo’s population continues to swell and demand blossoms, the future for the rental and purchase market is bright and continues to shine.
Tokyo’s 5 Main Wards
* The Imperial palace and all government offices/facilities are centered in Chiyoda.
The ceremonious heart of Japan, Chiyoda is home to the extensive grounds of the Imperial Palace and a number of government institutions, including the Diet, the Prime Minister's residence, and Supreme Court. Other famous landmarks are the recently-renovated Tokyo Station in Marunouchi and the Budokan. Chiyoda is also the greenest and has the lowest density of the five main wards.
Chiyoda has some of the most expensive land prices in Japan, and this is most evident in the modern, tree-lined commercial zone of Marunouchi, situated to the west of Tokyo Station, which has recently undergone extensive redevelopment in order to keep pace with Tokyo’s newer commercial districts. Towering blocks of glass and steel showcase Japan’s enviable structural engineering and seismic resistance performance, and highlight the uncompromising pursuit of quality, safety, and achievement inherent to the Japanese as a people.
The ward is also home to the famous Akihabara electronics district, also known as “Electric Town” in English, or simply “Akiba” in Japanese, offering cutting-edge technologies and multilingual duty-free shopping. It is also well known for its “otaku” subculture, and the area is becoming increasingly popular for fans of Japanese subculture and animation.
Dominating the centre of the ward, as well as the city, is the green enclave of Japan’s Imperial Family, a clear landmark on any map of Tokyo. The prime residential area of Bancho lies to the west of the Imperial Palace, with a substantial government and foreign embassy district located to the south, and the commercial district of Marunouchi to the east.
*Where most of the foreign companies and embassies (76) in Tokyo are located.
Minato is a prime commercial area, housing the headquarters of a number of large corporations, such as Sony, Honda, Mitsubishi, NEC, and many others. It faces Tokyo Bay in the east and is bordered by all of the other 4 main wards. It is home to the iconic Tokyo Tower, long used as an image of the city before being recently surpassed in height by the Tokyo SkyTree, and the famous Rainbow Bridge, another enduring and recognisable image of Tokyo.
For those living outside of Japan, Roppongi has become one of Minato’s most well-known names in recent years, partly due to its popularity with Tokyo’s foreign community but also due to the increasing gentrification of the area and the impressively large scale mixed-use complex of Roppongi Hills, one of Tokyo’s most significant developments in the last decade. Sprawling over 27 acres with a floor area of 7.8 million sq ft, Roppongi Hills was Tokyo’s first true mega-complex, incorporating office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, as well as a museum, hotel, major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and even some parks.
Not far from Roppongi Hills lies Tokyo Midtown [pictured], a newer mixed-use development providing over 6.1 million sq ft of office, residential, commercial, hotel, and leisure space. At 814 ft, the main tower is officially the highest building in Tokyo but will soon be superseded by the nearby Toranomon Hills, a project by the same developer as Roppongi Hills and due for completion in 2014.
Minato contains a number of upscale residential districts, the most popular and expensive of which is Azabu, located just southeast of Roppongi. Others popular areas include Shirokane, Akasaka, Aoyama, Omotesando, and Hiroo, in nearby Shibuya, though Azabu is arguably the centrepoint of the expatriate community in Tokyo, popular with executives, diplomats, and celebrities. The intimate, tree-lined streets provide pockets of surprising peace and tranquility in an otherwise busy city, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere extends to the trendy local cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
*The central ward of Tokyo, home to one of the most expensive per square meter land in the world, Ginza district.
Chuo, meaning “central” in Japanese, lies to the east of Tokyo station and is predominantly a commercial district. The areas of Kyobashi and Nihonbashi to the east of Tokyo Station have benefited from substantial commercial redevelopment in recent years and now boast many modern high-rise office buildings, dwarfing the nearby Tokyo Station. Nihonbashi is a substantial financial district and location to the Bank of Japan and Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Making up part of Tokyo’s extensive land reclamation projects on the edge of Tokyo Bay, lie the up and coming residential areas of Harumi and Kachidoki, both of which have undergone somewhat of a renaissance in terms of residential development. Many of Tokyo’s modern high-rise condominium towers have sprung up along the canal-lined streets.
Chuo is also home to the fabulously neon-lit Ginza, Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping district, providing exclusive entertainment and dining, and featuring numerous high-end department stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.
Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market can be found to the east of Ginza, and is Tokyo’s most famous wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets and over 2,000 tons of marine products pass through its doors every day.
*A ward focused on the younger generation.
Shibuya leads the vanguard of mass market fashion trends and youth-driven pop culture and plays an integral role in the cultural fabric of Tokyo. While not as upmarket as other areas within the 5-ku, the district is a veritable shopping mecca with numerous department stores, fashion outlets, entertainment and dining options. Basked in the neon glow of the hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars, the nightlife also thrives, making Shibuya a city that truly never sleeps. Outside the entrance to the station lies Shibuya Crossing and the famous Hachiko Statue meeting point, both well-known symbols of the area.
The business district around the station, one of Tokyo’s busiest, will undergo extensive redevelopment over the coming years, adding value to prime land prices and causing a projected uptick in rental demand. The completion in 2012 of the Hikarie shopping and entertainment complex marks the beginning of what should prove to be an exciting period of development in the area, making Shibuya an area to watch for the prudent investor.
Away from the alluring energy of the shopping district lie the prime residential areas of Daikanyama and Ebisu, both quiet and sophisticated residential neighbourhoods containing luxury boutiques, fashionable restaurants, and upscale shops. Ebisu has recently enjoyed substantial commercial development due to its convenient location.
To the east of the ward the tree-lined avenue of Omotesando and its upmarket boutiques, cafes, and high-fashion outlets evoke an almost Parisian atmosphere. Edgier and more experimental fashions can be found in the intercrossing side streets of nearby Harajuku.
The centre of Shibuya is dominated by the sweeping green expanses of Yoyogi Park and the grounds of Meiji Shrine, providing the area with a much-needed green lung, and the residents with a serene place to unwind and relax amid the hustle and bustle.
*Business, leisure, sight-seeing, and etc, everything bundled into one ward.
Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, with more than two million passengers using the station on a daily basis. Moving away from the throngs of commuters around the station lies a huge entertainment, business and shopping area, encompassing numerous department stores, cinemas, and electronic retailers, and a rich variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars. The entertainment theme is extended to the area east of the station, called Kabukicho, Tokyo’s largest red-light district.
To the west of the station, the famous skyline of high-rise offices and government buildings in Shinjuku’s skyscraper district strikes a memorable silhouette against the imposing slopes of the distant Mt Fuji. With many of Tokyo’s highest buildings nestled together, this business district is also home to the enormous Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices, the administrative and bureaucratic hub of the city government.
The charming residential neighborhoods of Yotsuya and Ichigaya border Chiyoda in the east of Shinjuku, and are famous for their many French restaurants.