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Tokyo Ushers In a Green ‘City Within a City’ With Azabudai Hills

After over three decades of planning, the long-awaited Azabudai Hills complex opened its doors in central Tokyo on Friday. Billed as a “city within a city”, the mixed-use development aims to redefine urban living by seamlessly integrating nature, architecture, culture and community.

Spanning 8.1 hectares in Tokyo’s upscale Minato ward, Azabudai Hills houses a 330-meter skyscraper called Mori Tower – now Japan’s tallest building. The towering structure contains office space, residences, shops, restaurants and cultural venues. Its lower levels connect via undulating pathways to a six-thousand square meter central green space filled with citrus groves, vegetables gardens and over 300 plant species.

The focus on green space and sustainability reflects developer Mori Building’s “Vertical Garden City” concept, which challenges traditional notions of high-density city life. British designer Thomas Heatherwick brought the concept to life through the project’s organic architectural details, such as curved concrete grids layered with plants, scalloped aluminium canopies resembling giant flower petals and cobblestone-esque walking paths.

In addition to the abundance of nature, Azabudai Hills contains 150 shops and restaurants, new premises for teamLab’s popular digital art museum, a medical center focused on preventative care, the British international school and Japan’s first outpost of Aman Resorts’ upcoming hotel brand Janu.

Visitors can also take in city views from Mori Tower’s observation deck, feast on wagashi confections showcasing Japanese seasonal ingredients and peruse works by renowned artists Yoshitomo Nara and Olafur Eliasson.

According to Mori Building CEO Shingo Tsuji, Azabudai Hills “demonstrates our vision of ‘Green & Wellness’ for urban life as well as our ambition to contribute to the international competitiveness of Tokyo.” The project involved extensive collaboration between government, private and community stakeholders to redevelop an aging neighborhood once clustered with small wooden earthquake-vulnerable homes.

When fully open and operational next year, Azabudai Hills expects to welcome 30 million annual visitors, house 3,500 residents in its skyscraper apartments and accommodate 20,000 office workers. Whether admiring avant-garde architecture, discovering emerging brands or simply soaking up sunshine in an urban oasis, Azabudai Hills aims to offer something for everyone seeking their own version of modern city living.

Top 8 Things To Do at Tokyo’s New Azabudai Hills Complex

  1. Immersive Digital Art at teamLab Borderless

The beloved teamLab Borderless digital art museum relocated to Azabudai Hills, set to reopen in February 2024. Wander through interactive installations with dazzling light displays, 3D projections mapping floors and walls, mirrored rooms and other visual magic.

  1. Thought-Provoking Exhibits at Azabudai Hills Gallery

Don’t miss the inaugural exhibition at Azabudai Hills Gallery, open now, showcasing works by renowned Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. His geometric sculptures and light installations encourage viewers to ponder their perception of space and time.

  1. Manga Art at The Manga Gallery

The aptly named Manga Gallery spotlights both classic and contemporary manga along with merchandise perfect for otaku. Grab manga-themed souvenirs and limited edition items you won’t find elsewhere.

  1. Gourmet Global Cuisine

Foodies flock to Azabudai Hills for the stellar lineup of restaurants. Highlights include French fine dining at Hills House Dining 33 on the 33rd floor of Mori Tower and Arabica Tokyo B1’s pastries and worldwide artisanal coffee.

  1. Luxury Brands and Boutiques

Shopaholics browse 150 stores spanning fashion, jewelry, accessories and more. Tower Plaza houses the likes of Cartier, Hermès and Chanel while United Arrows and Parigot unveil new women’s and men’s concepts. Discover fresh Japanese labels like Hirohata and COCUCA too.

  1. Local Specialty Items at Azabudai Hills Market

For a taste of Japanese craftsmanship, don’t overlook the market. Look for traditional Japanese confections from Suzukake wagashi, farm-fresh produce and products from local artisans.

  1. Inspiring Public Art Installations

Sculptures and installations around Azabudai Hills add artistic touches. See forest spirit statue Miss Forest in Tokyo by Yoshitomo Nara in the central green or Heatherwick Studio’s intricate metal canopy The Cloud.

  1. Cutting-Edge Wellness Approach

With a focus on health and wellbeing, Azabudai Hills houses the Keio University Center for Preventive Medicine with advanced healthcare services plus fitness clubs, spas and sport facilities promoting active lifestyles.

From digital art immersion to nature encounters, luxury shopping to wellness activities, Azabudai Hills offers something for everyone in a uniquely designed urban village environment.

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