Marunouchi inside-out

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The berm along this section of Marunouchi Nakadori is a green oasis in a new retail desert. Each season it is planted with with fresh sod and flowers to brighten up an otherwise drab block of corporate headquarters. This summer it features red peppers. No one even considers picking them.

Unlike the rest of Marunouchi, this particular block hasn't felt the touch of urban renewal. It maintains the cold granite face that the entire street had just five years ago--imposing architecture with minimal exterior signage, curtained street-level windows, and shops tucked into basement hallways. You had to be introduced to the neighborhood's great restaurants by your coworkers because it was unlikely that you'd find them on your own.

But times are changing and elsewhere along this corridor between Otemachi and Ginza, buildings are turning themselves inside out. They've removed their uninviting marble facades and replaced them with plate glass windows opening into high-end boutiques and restaurants--Prada, Kate Spade, Hermes and Emporio Armani all have shops here. There's a website to promote the area and help shoppers find their way:

I think this renewal was precipitated by the Marunouchi Building which opened last December after several years of construction. Perhaps "Maru Biru" made neighboring building owners realise there was as much profit in retail as in office space. The Mitsubishi Trust Building completed their renovations a few months back with a lot of tasty restaurants, including a posh Dean & Deluca, and there are three more huge construction projects along the street.

But I still like the block with the pepper plantings the best. It's the only non-retail stretch remaining in the neighborhood. I can breathe a little easier and relax the tight hold on my wallet as I go past.

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Red peppers as ornament! How cool. I thought they were some sort of really unusual flower.

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  • Jenn: Red peppers as ornament! How cool. I thought they were read more