Leave it to Tokyoites to make the most of their limited, urban space. JR East and JR Tokai have collaborated on the renovation of a 300 m (roughly 1000 ft) long area underneath train tracks that run between Yurakucho and Shimbashi Stations. Located in the Hibiya district of Tokyo, an area of prime real estate neighboring Ginza, the reclaimed area has been named Hibiya Okuroji, with the latter being the Japanese word for alleyway.
Inside the 300-meter long area of reclaimed space is a hidden alleyway of eateries and shops that will delight any urban explorer. And various remnants of history, such as the 100-year old brick archways, add to the space’s charm. The naming and lovely visual identity, as well as all signage, is the work of designer Kenya Hara’s studio Nippon Design Center.
Inside, there are plenty of hip, specialty shops to explore, such Wagashi Soso, a new concept of wagashi-takeout that boasts some more-than-so-so packaging design. Then there is the intriguing Sososo Somen (the similar naming conventions are just a coincidence) that has a lineup of experimental somen dishes.
Modeled after Berlin’s viaducts, the brick archways supporting the train tracks were built in the early 1900s with the help of German engineers and Japanese craftsmen. They remain to this day and have been beautifully restored as historic elements of Hibiya Okuroji.
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