In the Edo period, when the luxuries of aristocrats and samurai became popular among the lower classes, the Marunouchi neighborhood became known as a culturally vibrant area with leisure activities like cherry blossom viewing and travelling. Take a tour of the Marunouchi of today with General Manager Takuya Kishi’s Edo-era highlights, giving you four sensory “souvenirs” to bring home.
The Aroma of Historic Soba and Sushi
Many popular Japanese dishes like sushi, soba, tempura, and unagi (eel) were invented and flourished during the Edo period, and they are available at many restaurants around the Hotel. My favourite dishes have soba (buckwheat) noodles. Every part of the soba-making process – from kneading the dough and cutting it into noodles to making soup stock (dashi) – reflects the craftsmanship of traditional Japanese artisans. If you order the chilled zaru soba, take your time to savour the beautiful aroma of the noodles and dashi (umami) in the soy-based dipping sauce before eating.
The Handcrafted Sparkle of Edo Kiriko
Traditional crafts made by hand with time and care are great for souvenirs – from the Edo Komon kimono and artifacts like sensu (foldable fans) and uchihamono (hand-forged knives) to everyday tools like hoki (brooms). I recommend taking a look at Edo Kiriko, intricately patterned glassware cut by artisans using metal grinders and sharpening stones. The pieces are true works of art that can serve as practical gifts and beautiful displays. If you are interested in making your own Edo Kiriko glass, we can book a class for you.
The Spirit of Edo-Era Artistic Traditions
Many long-standing sensorial traditions were born of the Edo era, including kabuki (Japanese theatre), rakugo (comical storytelling) and ukiyo-e (a genre of Japanese art). Geisha, or female entertainers who liven up banquets with song and dance, also emerged in the Edo period. You can still see remnants of this era today in the Kagurazaka area of Tokyo, which had thrived as a geisha district (hanamachi); it’s a good place for a walk. I also recommend taking a tour through our lobby, which features bonsai works by Masashi Hirao, a young bonsai artist who combines Edo traditions with modern aesthetics.
The Secluded Quiet of the Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace, home to the Emperor of Japan, is built on the site of Edo Castle and had been home to the shogun before 1868. The area is surrounded by thick walls, wide moats and meticulously kept gardens. In the city, you can feel each season through the breeze, but once you’re on the Imperial Palace grounds, you are entirely secluded. The route around the palace has become Tokyo’s best-known track for jogging too, so put on your shoes and go for a run.