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Tokyo: The business district that never sleeps


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Tokyo: The business district that never sleeps

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In this Target Japan Special, we head to Tokyo, to one of the world’s most vibrant business districts: Marunouchi and the adjacent neighbourhoods of Otemachi and Yurakucho. Here beats the heart of Japanese business, between the imperial palace and Tokyo’s central train station.

This district full of history has undergone three major phases of change since the late 19th century. Nowadays nobody lives here, yet this neighbourhood never sleeps. Target went on a tour with Tatsuo Nishimoto, an urban planner who has witnessed the area’s transformations.

The tour starts at the Tokyo International Forum, a staple in this district which stretched over 120 hectares and draws 230,000 people to work each day. Some 4,000 companies have their offices here, spread out in about 100 buildings. Marunouchi has become the place to do business in Tokyo — in fact, it accounts for 10 percent of Japan’s GDP.

“This area is a premier office district,” Nishimoto said, adding it would remain so and keep gaining value. “But, we need to diversify the area, and transform the area to what will be needed in the future.”

City life

Key concerns are safety and sustainability. The buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes and floods, and many are now also powered with renewable energies. The new standard, Nishimoto explains, is a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption, and a 40 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.

Another trend is office layouts that promote wellbeing at work. Here nobody has their own office — not even the CEO! — and everyone shares open spaces with breakout areas. This means more productivity, and less absenteeism.

The businessmen we met say they’ve grown particularly fond of Marunouchi. Like Martin Stollberg, an investment specialist who has been working here for seven years.

“It’s not a pure business quarter. Sometimes, you have just offices towers and nothing else,” he noted. “The very nice thing is that you can just go for a coffee or a tea for 5 minutes. And there are not only business people here — it’s really life, like city life.”

This super-connected neighbourhood will be brimming with excitement for the 2020 Olympics. Marunouchi is already a must-see in tourist guides, and home to scores of restaurants, shops, and cultural events.

Not to mention a vibrant nightlife. Some bars stay open until dawn. Even on weekends. Proof that Marunouchi is clearly not just a business district.

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