WHEN on a tour, “the best plan is to have no plan” may be a good plan but not when you are pressed for time. To spend a few days in a big city every hour, minute and second has to count. A good itinerary must be prepared.
However, no matter how good the planning is, there will always be instances when “time will fly” on a specific attraction. You haven’t even covered half of the place and it’s time to go.
One of the benefits of traveling alone is you can alter your plans without hassle to anyone. To stay longer or cut the visit short will only be decided by you and you alone.
The Tokyo Station in the Marunouchi business district in Chiyoda was meant to be just a train stop on my way to the Imperial Palace, which was a short walk away from the west exit, but the charm of the old and well-preserved structure was a good reason to linger longer than intended.
On blueprint, the station was referred to as Central Station, intended to connect the Shinbashi and Ueno terminals. It opened in 1914, six years after construction started in 1908, with four platforms; two serving electric trains and two serving non-electric trains.
Through the years, the Tokyo Station has undergone restorations— after it was damaged by fire and bombed during the war, which diminished the level from three to two and the rooftop domes replaced by simple angular roofs.
As the station developed into a complex, more renovations were done to upgrade the facility. The most recent facelift was the most extensive. It was completed in 2012 after five years of work.
Lucky for us, we still get to see the original brick structure on the Marunouchi side. In the 1980s, there was a proposal that the original building be demolished and erect a larger structure. A preservation movement halted this plan.
In 2003, Tokyo Station was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
Today at 103 years old, it’s called Tokyo Station City with its extensive offerings of services—food, shopping, hotels, a gallery, an intercity bus terminal, etc.
With Shinkansen lines, regional commuter lines of Japan Railways and the Tokyo Metro network serving the station, it’s not a surprise that station is the busiest in Japan in terms of number of trains per day.
There is so much more to see in this “city”. I have yet to explore the east exit and the many highlights of the stations, such as the zero Kilometer sign, the assassination sire of a Prime Minister, the original platform pillars, Keiyo Line Concourse Stained Glass, the Gran Roof, etc. I will do more exploration on my next visit to the city, as I had to check out the gardens of the Imperial Palace.
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