A Few Things You Don’t Know About Roppongi ; US Army Base, Ramshackle Ramen Shop, and Aoyama Cemetery

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Roppongi is famous for being an entertainment town. Not only Japanese, but also many foreigners enjoy drinking at bars and dancing at nightclubs. There are high-rise complexes called Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Rich people called Hills zoku (Hills tribe, ヒルズ族) live there, and high-end companies including Google or Goldman Sachs have offices there. You might have been to Roppongi and known a lot of about it, but there are some places you probably don’t know in Roppongi.

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When you get out of Roppongi Station on the Hibiya or Oedo Line, you can see many high-rise buildings and foreigner-friendly restaurants. If you are tired and bored in Roppogi, it is good to see other scenery.

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About 10 minute walk from Roppongi Station, there is an area surrounded by a fence and rising American flags. This is the U.S. army area, called Akasaka Press Center. There is a heliport, an office for the Stars and Stripes newspaper publisher, and a base house called Hardy Barrack. Few people know there is a US base in an excellent location in the center of Tokyo.

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There used to be a very large Japanese army area here before WWII and it was requisitioned by the US force after WWII. The area where Tokyo Midtown stands also used to be a US base, but it was returned to Japan in 1960.

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There is a ramen shop, called Kaotan Ramen Entotsuya (かおたんラーメンえんとつや) in front of Hardy barracks. The building with chimneys is ramshackle, like a small barrack, and is located between the US base and Aoyama Cemetery.

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It is written as “high-quality soup of Chinese Fujian”, but the building never lets you feel the sense of high-quality.

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If you go inside the ramen shop anyway, you will find a good atmosphere like a lodge and a great-tasting ramen. The shoyu ramen served with thin noodles and fried green onions on top is simple, and makes you feel nostalgic.

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Aoyama Cemetery (青山霊園, Aoyama reien) is behind Kaotan Ramen Entotsuya. The cemetery has a large area of 263,564 square meters, even though it is located in the center of Tokyo. This is Japan’s first public cemetery, and the only cemetery for foreigners. There are graves of many notable people, including Shigeru Yoshida (吉田茂), the first prime minister after WWII.

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There are foreigners tombs around the center of the cemetery. Most of them are foreigner experts who came to Japan at the end of the 19th century, as part of Japanese Government’s drive for modernisation.

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There are some places in Roppongi that are not generally known to many people. Going shopping at Roppongi Hills or dancing and drinking at nightclubs are not only things to enjoy in Roppongi.

Hills-zoku (ヒルズ族, Hills tribe) : a group of people who recently became rich and live or work at Roppongi Hills. Most of them made their success in IT related businesses. The best known is Takafumi Horie (堀江貴文), also known by the nickname Horiemon (ホリエモン), the founder of Internet service provider Livedoor (ライブドア). It is mostly used in a negative way, meaning that they think about only money.

[How to go]  a 10 minute walk from Roppongi Station (六本木駅) on the Hibuya Line (日比谷線) or Oedo Line (大江戸線)


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