Manseibashi Station is an old train station that used to be the terminus of the Chuo Line before it was extended to Tokyo Station. Manseibashi has been disused for a long time but JR East has been starting to making use of the space under train tracks as a way to revitalize a community and mAAch ecute was born. mAAch ecute is a small shopping complex that took over the old Manseibashi Station and is a mixture of craft shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can easily get a feel for the area and enjoy the small terrace as well. I had a high expectation for the complex but was somewhat let down. The shops all have a craft feel to them and they did a good job to preserve the exterior of the station and still remodelling the interior so that it would be brand new. While it doesn’t live up to my own high personal expectations, it has done a great job and could help the area grow.
For most people, the easiest way to access mAAch ecute is to go from Akihabara. Follow the Chuo-Sobu Line towards Ochanomizu and turn left at Chuo-dori, the big street. Once you cross the bridge, mAAch ecute is right there on the right. When open, you can enjoy a short walk along the small walkway along the Kanda River. The river walkway is nice but better in late spring when it is warmer. Unfortunately the Kanda River is still pretty dirty and may take years to clean up properly, but it is still nice on a sunny day. Inside the main area you can look at some of the craft shops where you’ll see a lot of nice things you won’t really find anywhere else. It is fun to see what they have and when you reach the end of the shops you are at a “library”. The library is a curious place as it was not really a library as much as it was a gift shop. I was more impressed by the model of the old Manseibashi Station and the various iPads that were used to give information about the various shops and the station. On the south side of the station there are several shops with their entrances to the outdoor plaza. It is a pretty small area and most of the shops are small but there is a good variety of shops. The most interesting shop for me was a nice little train shop where you can get JR souvenir items. I enjoy looking at train souvenir goods but I rarely buy anything.
If you head to the second floor there are a couple of small places to enjoy the view. There are two options to go to the second floor, the 1912 or the 1935 stairs. I’m not sure of the meaning, but I would guess it was about the year they were built rather than the total number. At the top of the stairs is a nice viewing plaza. You can enjoy the Chuo Line trains whizzing past and get some nice shots of the trains. The only problem is when you are with a friend and you both try to take the exact same shot! Let’s just say elbows were exchanged but thankfully no one was injured, much. If you go up the 1935 stairs, there is a very interesting touch screen display where you can get a history lesson about the station. I don’t recall there being any English available but they did have nice pictures. If you want, you can also enjoy a nice lunch or a few drinks at the N3331 café which Merry Witch wrote about on her blog. I didn’t get a chance but it did seem like a nice quiet place.
Manseibashi Station is a very nice place to visit but it is a bit smaller than I had expected. There was a lot they could have done with it and I think they did the best with what they had. I would prefer to see more artists displaying their work there and perhaps a better method of getting around the interior. It can be a bit confusing at first but it all makes sense in the end. Most people will probably not even notice Manseibashi as it is just outside of Akihabara and most people will visit Akihabara to see the electronics. I do hope that people will give it a chance and perhaps walk all the way up to Ochanomizu. That area has also had a few new buildings open up and it is a good gateway to Jinbocho where you can see the old used books area of Tokyo.