Last October, restoration of the red-brick western façade of Tokyo Central Station was completed. The project, to restore it to its original appearance, required five years and a budget of 50 billion yen ($500 million). A portion of the station was damaged by fire in an air raid during the Second World War, but remained in use after undergoing partial repairs. To commemorate the building’s centenary, the Tokyo metropolitan government decided to restore the station to its original appearance. The building is 335 meters long, about 20 meters wide and its domed roofs on the south and north ends of the building are about 45 meters high. The station’s distinctive “retro” appearance has made it one of Tokyo’s new sightseeing spots, and many visitors can be seen standing beneath the elegant domes, taking photos of the baroque ceilings with their cell phone cameras.
While numerous suggestions and proposals were advanced to replace the old station building with a modern high-rise, many people were in favor of retaining the original landmark, and in 1999 the decision was made to proceed with its restoration.
The building incorporates a newly refurbished Tokyo Station Hotel, and also operates a new Travel Service Center offering assistance in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Tokyo Central Station is one of the major rail hubs in the capital, with more than one million commuters and intercity travelers each day passing through aboard Japan Railway Co. and several subway lines. One hundred years from now, will this famous old station still stand out as one of the “familiar faces of Japan”?