Set on the edge of Tokyo Bay and located near the narrow noodle-shopped lanes of Shinbashi, fashionable and upscale Ginza, ancient and green Hamarikyu Gardens and the super bustling Tsukiji fish market, the central Tokyo neighborhood of Shiodome provides an excellent base for exploring all that Tokyo has to offer foreign visitors. I stayed in the area during a recent visit and found Shiodome to be an ideal settling for my first visit this fascinating and massive mega city.
Shiodome is one of Toyko’s newest quarters with much of its development having taken place only since 2000. Originally the site of a now derelict railway cargo terminal, today Shiodome is a shining example of modern Japanese transportation efficiency. The area is served by Shiodome station on the Yurikamome new transit and Toei O-Edo subway lines with all buildings connected via underground concourse and series of easy-to-follow walkways with plenty of maps and signage. The bigger train hub of Shinbashi, on the JR Yamanote line, is a short walk away as well.
Getting to Shiodome from Tokyo’s airports is a fairly straightforward process. I took advantage of the Friendly Airport Limousine coach service from Narita International Airport. Friendly offers regular schedule of coaches going to Shiodome with drop offs at most hotels.
As accessible as Shiodome’s transportation options are, there’s a lot to be seen on foot.
Nearby are the smoky, Blade Runner-esque lanes of Shinbashi: a densley packed street food haven of a gazillion noodle shops, yakitori joints and tiny bars wedged into any and every available space. Also close at hand is Ginza where department stores, boutiques and flagship retail outlets for big name brands like Sony and Apple beckon discerning shopaholics.
Just as capitalist but considerably more frenetic and a little bit fishy is not only the busiest market in Tokyo but also the biggest fish and seafood market in the world: Tsukiji. From fresh-off-the-boat tuna to freshly made traditional fish cakes with all sorts of other fresh and sometimes unidentifiable sea creatures and treats in between – Tsukiji is a must-visit item on any seafood lover’s Tokyo checklist.
Much less frantic and really quite salubrious is Hamarikyu Gardens. The site of the 17th century villa of Tokyo’s first Shogun, this bucolic swath of ancient parkland and ponds offers a comtemplative contrast to Shiodomes surrounding skyline of skyscrapers.
Shiodome is home to a number of quality hotels. During my trip, I stayed at the Villa Fontaine. I found it to be comfortable and convenient, had a cool view of the area from my room and enjoyed the ample complimentary east-meets-west breakfast each morning. Odds are that next time around I’d be keen to exploring another part of Tokyo; other than that I really wouldn’t have any qualms against staying at Villa Fontaine or in Shiodome again. Indeed, it might even be easier to continue to use it as my base.
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Photo: Chris Osburn