On October 1, a long and arduous renovation of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building was finally completed. The Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building was originally built in 1914 but most of the building was destroyed during World War II. The roof was destroyed leaving just the lower two floors in relatively good shape. Tokyo Station has always been one of the busiest and most important stations of Tokyo. It has always been home to several train lines that extend north and south as well as east and west. After WWII, the government had to be quick in rebuilding Tokyo Station. They quickly fixed Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building in a way that was overly simple and cheap. The original 1914 building had, from what I read, beautiful glass domes. The post-war fix was not as majestic as the original but it was still a nice building. It had the same shape as the original and similar functions. It had to be more functional rather than splendid. Rather than reconstructing the elaborate domes, they simply built sloping roofs and skipped re-building the third floor. The original 1914 building had 3 floors, but the post-war building had only 2. It is very understandable that Japan would cheap out on the reconstruction as there was a lot of rebuilding that was required. It was not a simple task to rebuild most of urban Japan and time and money were very valuable at the time. I would imagine quick and simple would be two words that were on everyone’s minds at the time in terms of infrastructure.
In 2007, JR East, the operator of Tokyo Station decided to undergo extensive reconstruction of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building. JR East wanted to restore the original 1914 design to the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building. It took 5 years of construction and the new building is finally complete. The entire station building, aside from the basic structure was completely rebuilt. They installed new earthquake damage prevention systems such as dampers and absorbers. They also added a complete new floor to the building making it 3 stories again rather than just 2. The angular roofs were replaced with the original domes and all of the interiors were replaced. Walking around Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building is now very pleasant. The post-war building was not as nice and was definitely looking worn out at the time they started reconstruction. The lighting was not very good and a lot of the facilities were starting to come apart. The extensive renovations at Tokyo Station are a good thing as the station is now safer and more energy efficient. There is extensive use of LED lighting and the flow of the entire station is a lot smoother. It will be easier to get in and out of the station. Currently, it is difficult to get around due to the crowds of people trying to get a good look at the new building and taking lots of photos. Compared to the old building, I believe it is better but I have nothing to really compare it to. During the reconstruction, they had to keep the building open which made the station itself very hard to get around at the time. Compared to that, the crowds of people are nothing but it still isn’t easy to get around such a busy station.
The Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building also houses the Tokyo Station Hotel. It is a luxury hotel that occupies the upper floors of the building. It re-opened on October 3 and will cost as much as any other luxury hotel in Tokyo. They bill themselves as one of the longest hotels in the world with world class luxury. Their rooms start from a standard room to a royal suite. Weddings and banquets can be held within the hotel and you can always enjoy a delicious meal there too. Then there is the standard fitness room and spa. You can’t have a luxury hotel without one. From the pictures I have seen, it looks beautiful and I would love to spend a day or two at the hotel, but I’m afraid my income as a blogger is way too modest, read nearly 0, to afford even a single night in that hotel.
When you go to Tokyo Station, be sure to take a few minutes to enjoy the new building. You can get all of your travel needs done at the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building. You no longer have to go all over the station in order to do little things. There is a new travel centre for exchanging JR Passes as well as new facilities for purchasing Shinkansen tickets. At each of the main entrances, you will be pleasantly surprised to see large screens surrounding the domes and some short video along with some advertisements playing. The two videos I saw were very cute and showcase the differences in Tokyo from before 1914 to today. The first video shows an old style express train going through Asakusa. Other than Sensoji and a few other traditional items, there is nearly nothing but nature. The updated video shows one Shinkansen, Tokyo Sky Tree, Sensoji, the Asahi Buildings and many other modern buildings. It is a nice video to watch and worth a short stop to watch. You can even admire the interiors and the beautiful décor inside each dome. Each dome is adorned with aluminum columns, eagles, and carvings of the various animals in the Chinese zodiac. There is a lot to see at the new Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building but do be aware that they repeat a lot of things between the main entrances, so visiting just one is enough.
Note: More photos will be coming soon. Please “Like” the Facebook Page to see them as well as other extra photos that aren’t part of this blog.