Tokyo Station is located in the Marunouchi business district of Tokyo and is the terminus for the Shinkansen bullet train that connects to most major cities. It also has platforms for the Narita Express from the Airport and most other local and regional trains.
Despite being the main terminus for the Shinkansen, surprisingly Tokyo Station is not the busiest station in the city. The award for the busiest station in Tokyo goes to the likes of Ikebukuro Station.
Built in 1914, Tokyo Station was designed by Dr Kingo Tatsuno who was regarded as a founding father of modern Japanese architecture. At the time of opening the building was regarded as one of Japan’s finest, and even today it is regarded as one of the country’s great architectural treasures being one of the few good examples of pre World War II architecture in Tokyo.
Tokyo Station was heavily damaged during the World War II bombing of Tokyo. Although the impressive domes of the building were destroyed, much of the original 1914 facade on the Marunouchi side of the building remained and was retained in the reconstruction. When the building was rebuilt, a simpler roof replaced the damaged domes and modern buildings were added to the Yaesu side of the station.
Since the war, the station has been extensively remodelled and extended to accommodate new subway and Shinkansen lines; the station did seem like a rabbit warren of tunnels and passageways linking the vast complex together.
Finally in 2004 it was decided to renovate the station and restore it to its former pre war glory. Using photos and some of the original plans, the ornate domes have been returned to the 1914 building that now also serves as a luxury hotel. Much of the Yaesu side of the building has also been redeveloped to include improved shopping and dining facilities as well as several bars. The renovation of the station complex took over 6 years to complete.
Part of the Yaesu side of the complex includes a new huge glass and metal roof named the “GranRoof”. Standing at 27 metres high and 234 metres long, it has been built to create an expansive pedestrian area that is lined with shopping and services along with drop of points for bus lines. Over the next few years two 40 plus story towers will be built, one at each end of the “GranRoof” to serve as offices and form a huge shopping mall.
The Tokyo Station connects to the Haneda Airport via the Keihin Tohoku Line. There are several connections to the Tokyo International Airport at Narita with the fastest being around 50 minutes via the Narita Express.
Serving the station are 7 JR lines, 6 Shinkansen lines and Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi Line. For the tourist, the Yamanote, Chuo and Marunouchi lines are quite useful around the city while the Keihin-Tohoku Line can take you to Yokohama. The Shinkansen Lines can take you to almost anywhere you want to go in Japan while the Narita Express takes you to Tokyo’s main international airport, Narita.