- Home to numerous embassies, excellent public and international schools, quiet narrow streets, expat-dense, international influences vie with Edo-period appeal. Popular with expats and cosmopolitan Japanese alike, this family-friendly suburb boasts top-class amenities.
- -- Tokyo Metro Namboku
-- Toei Oedo Subway
- -- From Azabu Juban on the Toei Oedo Subway Line: 2-min direct to Roppongi, 12-min direct ride to Shinjuku, 17-min ride to Shibuya with one transfer
-- From Azabu Juban on the Tokyo Metro Namboku lines: 17-min indirect ride to Tokyo with one transfer
Synonymous with wealth and privilege, Azabu Juban and its immediate vicinity ranks among Tokyo’s most prestigious residential areas. International, central and convenient, traditional businesses and a famous summer festival give a strong sense of local history and an authentic charm.
According to HOME’S, a Japanese real estate listing site, these are the average rent levels in Azabu Juban (as of October 2017):
- Studio (1K): ¥116,800 ($1,035 @ 110 JPY = 1 USD)
- 1BR (1LDK): ¥216,500 ($1918)
- 2BR (2LDK): ¥455,000 ($4031)
- 3BR (3LDK): ¥737,800 ($6537)
Azabu Juban’s most prominent neighbor is glitzy Roppongi to the north. It is immediately bordered by historical and hilly Moto Azabu (and farther, Hiroo) to the west; Higashi Azabu and Tokyo Tower, beyond, beckon from the east; while Minami Azabu faces south.
Getting Oriented Around the Station
Azabu Juban’s main shopping street is reached from exits 4 and 5 of the station. Here, a blend of traditional businesses, eateries and newer lifestyle-oriented stores grace the shopping strip’s pavements.
The Shuto Metropolitan Expressway No. 2 flanks the east side of the station. Diplomatic embassies, swathes of businesses, international schools and residential buildings dot the surrounding landscapes.
Azabu Juban may have been born with a silver spoon in its mouth but just like a discreet great-aunt who never flaunts her money, ostentatious displays of wealth are out of the question. Despite its noble history, this inner city district boasts a laid-back and charming village-like atmosphere, largely attributable to the long-term tenants of its main shopping street or shoutengai.
While predominantly up-market, Azabu Juban seamlessly blends pockets of mid-market and Edo period shitamachi (downtown/old-school) within its environs.
Major Landmarks and What’s Nearby
Azabu Juban’s shopping street may arguably be its central focal point but another shopping landmark is the international Nissin World Delicatessen, in the neighboring Higashi-Azabu district.
Nissin World Delicatessen
The Nissin World Delicatessen, located in nearby Higashi (East) Azabu, is an international supermarket with a wide selection of imported household products and food, including a large selection of halal foods. It is open from 8:30AM to 9PM daily.
The area isn’t defined by shopping, however, with Tokyo’s second oldest temple, Zenpuku-ji, calling Moto Azabu home. Other notable temples and shrines include Korin-ji Temple in Minami Azabu, and Juban Inari Shrine in Azabu Juban proper.
Temple University Japan Campus
Temple University’s Japan campus, the oldest and largest foreign university in Japan, is located about a 5-min walk from Azabu Juban station.
Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park
While technically closer to Hiroo Station, the enchanting Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park, a former feudal villa south west of Azabu Juban in Minami Azabu, features scenic woodlands, a plethora of birdlife, waterfalls and quiet streams.
Azabudai, about a 10-minute walk north of Azabu Juban, is home to the Tokyo American Club (TAC), a private member network and club with sought-after facilities. A large number of foreign consulates and embassies can also be found in the Azabu area.
Azabu Juban Noryo Matsuri
Azabu Juban’s relaxed atmosphere takes a vacation in late August when summer crowds brave the area for one of Tokyo’s most famous festivals or matsuri, the Azabu Juban Noryo Matsuri. Held over two days, the festival attracts around 150,000 people and is famous for food stalls, traditional games, live music and street processions in which local residents carry portable Shinto shrines.
Living in Azabu Juban for Families
Azabu’s quiet elegance yet close proximity to the international work hub of Roppongi makes it an ideal location for families. Popular with expats and cosmopolitan Japanese alike, this family-friendly suburb boasts top-class amenities.
Schools are prominent throughout the district. Azabu features some of Tokyo’s finest, including the private Nishimachi International School, Tokyo International School, Ohana International School and Summerhill International Preschool, among others.
Where to take the kids
Azabu Plaza, in Minami Azabu, is a jidoukan or children’s hall with facilities and programs catering from babies to early teens. Amishiro Park and Mamiana Park, in Azabu Juban and Higashi Azabu, respectively, are also popular playing spots for young children. Families can often be seen shopping at Nissin World Delicatessen, France’s Picard Frozen Grocery Store, or grabbing a gelato at Gelateria Marghera. The member-only Tokyo American Club (TAC), which has child-focused activities and babysitting, also features a family restaurant.
Living in Azabu Juban for Singles and Couples
Azabu Juban and its immediate surrounds provide aural respite from the nightlife of neighboring Roppongi. A strong and welcoming local community counteracts any of the impersonality that can be found living in one of the world’s largest cities.
Bars and restaurants
The Azabu area can claim some of Tokyo’s best bars and restaurants—whether Michelin-rated or mom-and-pop-run eateries—making it a popular choice with singles and couples alike. Just like its Azabu Juban base, the Gen Yamamoto cocktail bar fuses the best of Japanese and Western ingredients and traditions. To complement this dining and socializing, the Azabu district also has a reputation as a hub for some of Tokyo’s top health food eateries, fitness, beauty and aesthetic salons.
History of Azabu Juban
Azabu (麻布) derives its name from hemp cloth. Historical records indicate that linen production took place locally after Azabu was urbanized in the 17th century. The tenth in Juban (十番) allegedly refers to a tenth construction on the Furukawa River, which runs through the area.
Azabu’s popularity with foreigners or non-Japanese day can be traced back to its history when the first United States delegation in Japan was established in 1859 at Zenpuku-ji Temple. In the Edo period it housed noble samurai and daimyo, while the Meiji era drew a mix of commercial and residential inhabitants. Azabu was one of Japan’s best-known entertainment districts up until World War II, when much of it was firebombed in 1945.
Main text by Jane Kitagawa
Photos by Chris Mollison unless otherwise indicated