Directions to IHJ (International House of Japan)

I have two recommendations for walking to the International House of Japan (IHJ):

  • A 10 minute scenic tour.
  • A 10 minute mole tour (if you want to minimize your time outdoors).

The scenic option offers a complete crash course in walkable urbanism, hidden in the most mundane details.

As I have written elsewhere, most of our knowledge about how to build a walkable city has yet to be codified in written form.  Here are the key ingredients we’ve discovered so far:

  1. Shade & Sense of Enclosure.
  2. Safety (安心感).  Primarily sensory experience / perception of safety.  The biggest factor is width of roadway (narrower roads -> slower cars).  For the elderly and super-aged, spacing of benches and public restrooms is also important.
  3. Substance (面白さ).  This is what keeps people from being bored while walking.  One example is narrow storefronts / short distance between entrances (i.e. fine-grained urbanism).  Another example is the presence of other people.  It does not include superficial attempts such as large landmark buildings (“starchitecture”).

10 minute scenic tour (3 minutes underground, 7 minutes above ground) 

Take exit 4 (on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, N04) and stroll down Azabu-Juban’s beautiful cobblestone “high street”.

This is what good, fine-grained urbanism looks like.
Shade: trees+awnings.  Safety: narrow road.  Substance: numerous small storefronts.
Note the total absence of on-street parking.


Note the presence of a dollar store amidst the understated elegance of this high-end shopping street in Tokyo’s richest neighborhood.  Safety requires “eyes on the street”, and it requires them at all hours of the day.  This means welcoming as broad and diverse a spectrum of the population as possible.

Turn right here (if you’re headed for the IHJ).  Note the sense of safety /安心感 provided by those stone bollards. Roppongi Hills in the background.

10 minute mole tour (3-7 minutes underground, 3 minutes above ground)

If it’s raining, and you don’t mind a flight of stairs, the driest route is from exit 7 of Azabu-Juban Station (Toei Oedo Line, E22).

The shopping/eating selection is relatively tiny for a transfer station, but at least you can buy umbrellas (the shop appears to be located by exits 3 & 4) .


(3D Map Copyright 2012, Bureau of Transportation, Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

IHJ is located directly adjacent to Zepp Blue Theater, which has provided a handy video guide (click here for video directions).


Toei’s Oedo Line at Azabu-Juban Station
Exit 7.
It’s about 7 minutes from the ticket gate to exit 7.
Take a right when you exit.  Note the large wayfinding board.
Cross the street (Torii-zaka) and take a right.
It will feel like much more than 3 minutes, because the second half fails to provide “substance”.  The area north of Churrascaria Gostoso exemplifies boring “coarse-grained” urbanism.






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