Feel like taking in something highbrow in Tokyo? Why not some art! The National Art Center (Kokuritsu Shin-Bijutsukan), Tokyo is an art museum located in the upscale Roppongi district. Opening on January 21, 2007, it is a unique and innovative art exhibition facility: instead of maintaining a permanent collection, it Read more [...]
Place Category: Attractions
Roppongi’s mixture of art galleries, nightlife and corporate offices make it an interesting place to visit, and while Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown are accessible, much of the nightlife is not.
The area known as Roppongi, or “six trees”, was first mentioned in the late 1600s. The origin of the name is unclear, but it was either named after 6 large Japanese elm in the area, or because it was the location of the residences for six daimyos with the character for “tree” in their names.
Though the area was under-populated for a long time, the Third Imperial Guard of the Imperial Japanese Army was moved to the area in 1890 and the numerous soldiers led to the area developing as a nightlife district. After World War 2, the United States Army and Allied government officials occupied several facilities in the area and the surrounding nightlife businesses adapted, and Roppongi developed an image as a neighborhood with a large number of foreigners. The Roppongi area later became popular with Japanese nationals as well due to a number of popular discos that attracted many popular Japanese entertainers.
While the area floundered at the end of the economic bubble, in the early 2000s Izumi Garden Tower and the Roppongi Hills high-rise complexes brought high-end office and condominium space to the area and in 2006 Roppongi continued to further establish an uptown image with the completion of Tokyo Midtown project and the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Recently the area has become known as a cultural center with The National Art Center, Roppongi Hills’ Mori Art Museum, and Tokyo Midtown’s Suntory Museum of Art within walking distance.
You can get to Roppongi from Roppongi Station, Roppongi-itchome Station, or Nogizaka Station (a bit further than the other two). All of the stations are wheelchair accessible.
The large cities within the city of Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills are both modern buildings and are very wheelchair accessible with numerous elevators and accessible toilets located throughout the complexes.
Additionally, The National Art Center (Japan’s largest Art Gallery), Roppongi Hills’ Mori Art Museum, and Tokyo Midtown’s Suntory Museum of Art are all accessible.
The Mori Building in Roppongi Hills has a large observation deck called Tokyo City View in addition to the Mori Art Museum. While the main observation area is wheelchair accessible, the rooftop Sky Deck is only reachable via stairs.
Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills are connected by an underground corridor, but it unfortunately has stairs midway and visitors using wheelchairs or rollators will need to go outside.
Outside of Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills, a large number of the restaurants and night clubs are not wheelchair accessible and the sidewalks are rough in many areas.
The Roppongi area has some interesting buildings and high-end shopping, as well as great art galleries, that make it worth a visit. However, those looking to enjoy the famous nightlife may end up disappointed by the lack of accessible venues.