Tokyo is a city with elevation of the floor varying in different locations

When you look at the map of Japan, you can spot the Kanto plain is wide and town was easily able to spread. The plain is structured with valleys formed by rivers that extends to the Tokyo Bay. For this geography, it is thought that there have been no issues with the supply of water and the water transport routes prospered the city.

A village was created in the valley along the river, and the ridge portion extending above the valley became the main road. Currently, the bridge is built which is created so that you won’t feel the ups and downs of the geography. However, Tokyo is a city with a lot of terrain with very different elevation.

Taking Araki-cho as an example, Shinjuku Street which runs along the plain, and Yasukuni Street is running parallel to the north side which was a former valley. The two streets which intersects at the north and south is a steep slope.

Araki-cho is located in a lower elevated area from the eastern and south western ridges, which becomes a bowl-like geography.

The U-shaped geography brings fans

The U-shaped geography is called すり鉢型 (reads “suribachigata”, meaning grinding bowl shaped) in Japanese. There’s a community which experts and university professors who are enthusiastic with this particular geography, and formed the Tokyo Suribachi Society (東京スリバチ学会).

The Tokyo Suribachi Society considers Araki-cho as one of the places to enjoy the varying elevation of grounds in Tokyo. In the Edo period, the whole Araki-cho town was the residence of the feudal lord, Matsudaira Settsu-no-mori Yoshiyuki. The water from the river run down the valley was used to build a pond and waterfall, which became the feudal lord’s garden. There is a theory that the feudal lord built the pond in case the enemy attacked the Edo Castle, the pond could be used to flood the Yasukuni Street.

In the modern period, the scenic garden has been open to the public and restaurants opened up side by side to address the tourists. Soon the town became a geisha district. The willow trees which surround the pond are thought to be from that period. It was common to have willow trees along the streets that the geishas walk down.

After the World War II ended, Araki-cho became a town thrived with people working in the TV and radio stations, and publishing companies coming to enjoy food and drinks. Even though these companies have moved to different locations, the restaurants in Araki-cho still operates their stores leaving the atmosphere as it was from the past. The town currently is popular with people who wants to look back in time and young adults.


Amazing views can be found from those who only know!

When you take a walk around Arakicho, you will notice that most of the town is surrounded by stairs, and only a few streets that lead to the wide street of Shinjuku and Gaien-higashi. You will experience the uniqueness of the landscape with narrow streets and stairs.

The top of the stairs headed to where Tadaima Japan Ryokan is located from the Tsu-no-mori slope has been secretly known as having a scenic view of the town.

Walk down the opposite side from the Shinjuku Ryokan and you will see the pond and the small shrine, Tsunokamibenzaiten on the left.

Most of the streets of Arakicho are said to be formed in the Edo era when Matsudaira Settesu-no-mori had his residence there. Enjoy your walk in Arakicho imagining how it was at that time.

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Tadaima Japan Editorial Team

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Tadaima Japan Editorial Team

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Address Araki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access ・Ten-minute walk from Yotsuya Station on the JR Chūō Line (Rapid) or JR Chūō-Sōbu Line (local). ・Five-minute walk from Yotsuya Sanchome Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line.