Akihabara is a popular tourist area in Tokyo. Near the Manseibashi bridge over the Kanda River, you can find the popular underpass area, "mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi". The underpass is now known for its trendy businesses, but the building itself dates back more than 100 years. mAAch Ecute has been built using the old Manseibashi Station building, with a deliberate effort to preserve the architecture’s long history. This article will be a dive into Manseibashi underpass’ 100-year history, and some of our favourite restaurants in the area.
What’s Going on at the Underpass?
Stores and Izakayas Are Amassed Under the Guard
The "underpass" is a familiar scene in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas.The many pubs and restaurants in these areas attracts many office workers at night. The usually rustic storefronts aren’t the most inviting at first, but in recent years, redevelopment in the underpasses has actively changed their atmospheres.
History Of The "mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi" Underpass!
Let us introduce to you, “mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi”. It is under a red-brick, elevated building in the Akihabara area, and carries a lot of history under its pillars.
Stylish Red Brick Appearance of mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
Hustle And Bustle Of "Manseibashi"
Akihabara is famous as a lively downtown area with many different subway stations, including the JR Line, scattered around the area. This ease of access leads it to being crowded with many people whether it's a weekday or holiday. Follow the main street in Akihabara toward Kanda, and you will see Manseibashi. Manseibashi goes over a man-made river, created by the Edo Shogunate to facilitate city infrastructure.
The Many Buildings Of Akihabara
Manseibashi was built in the Meiji era to replace Sujikai-bashi, a bridge that formerly connected Edo castle to its surrounding city. This was Tokyo’s first stone-built bridge, and was fittingly named with the meaning of “indestructible”, and “eternal”. Although its eternality was cut short by the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, the name and history of the bridge remains in the concrete arches of today’s Manseibashi.
Passers-By At Manseibashi
Proceeding from Akihabara Station , past Manseibashi, you can find "mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi". Trains can be seen on the overpass, going back and forth between the nearby Tokyo Station, and Ochanomizu Station.
Manseibashi Station’s Vibrant Past
The former Manseibashi station was a gorgeous brick building on par with Tokyo Station. Unfortunately, that station building has not survived to the present time. Let's follow the history from its birth as the Chuo Line’s terminal station in 1912 to the present.
Manseibashi Station Diorama Model
1912: A Gorgeous Debut As the First Station of the Chuo Line
The father of Manseibashi station is Tatsuno Kingo -- widely known as the mind behind Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi building. The extravagant western-style architecture was rare at the time, and made it a standout among all of Tokyo’s train stations.
Manseibashi Station around 1912 (Image courtesy of the Railway Museum)
Manseibashi was completed as a train terminal in 1912, and played an important role as the merging point of train lines and street cars. In the greater Tokyo area, it had the fourth highest traffic next to Ueno, Shinbashi, and Shinjuku.
Manseibashi Station Around 1918 (Image courtesy of the Railway Museum)
The Chuo Line was extended to Tokyo Station in 1919, making Manseibashi no longer its terminus. With the construction of Kanda Station and Akihabara Station not long after, and the unfortunate demise of the original architecture in the Kanto earthquake of 1923, the station’s future was not looking as glamorous as it did before. Although the building was rebuilt in 1925, all of these infrastructural changes piled up, rendering Manseibashi station obsolete.
1936: Revival as a Transit Museum!
Photo of the Transportation Museum (Image courtesy of the Railway Museum)
As the number of riders decreased, a part of the station was rebuilt as a “railroad museum” in 1936 and succeeded in attracting new users. This museum was a modern three-story reinforced concrete building. Parts of the building continued to operate as Manseibashi Station, but station operations were discontinued in 1943.
The Railway Museum was closed after an air raid in March 1945, but reopened as the Transportation Museum (Japan Transportation Culture Museum) one year after the war in 1946. The Transportation Museum, which was loved by many railroad fans for 70 years, closed in 2006. In 2007, a new “Railway Museum” was opened in Omiya Ward, Saitama City.
New Railway Museum Opened in 2007
2013: Rebirth as mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi, was opened here as a new commercial space in 2013. In the days of the Transportation Museum, the design emphasis was on optimizing space for the exhibits, and not on boosting the appeal of the architecture itself. However, the design office "Mikangumi" incorporated the former Manseibashi Station and its history in its design plans.
Characteristic Red Brick Appearance
Although the building was reborn, it hasn’t been completely changed. The current structure marries many of Manseibashi’s old characteristics with unique retail shops and many modern touches.
Let's Go See The Remains Of The Old Manseibashi Station!
The old bricks of Manseibashi Station house many unique shops inside them, and contain a calm atmosphere that strongly contrasts the rest of Akihabara.
Trains on Elevated Tracks
The main hall is lined with a number of restaurants, lifestyle stores, and furniture shops. It’s a quiet space that you wouldn’t expect right under the tracks of a running train.
Inside View of Building And Underpass
The facilities of mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi have many historical locations that you can see for free. Here, we will introduce four must-see spots.
The Riverside Deck Overlooking the Kanda River
"Riverside Deck" built along the Kanda River. It can be used as a rest space.
Riverside Deck Rest Area
The glass fence separating visitors from the Kanda River reaches up to elbow height. You will find many people enjoying their downtime among the outdoor seating.
Illumination Shining At Night
At night, the fences are lit up to beautifully illuminate the Kanda River.
"1912 Stairs" Manseibashi Station
The 1912 staircase was built when Manseibashi Station opened in 1912. It was used as a special entrance to enter the station directly from the platform.
1912 Stairs Entrance
The staircase is not built with concrete, but granite. The wall tiles are connected by a lengthy hand-driven process named “fukurinmeji”, which can also be seen in the bricks of Tokyo station. This process is characterized by the rounded bulges in the bricks’ adhesive, and is both aesthetically beautiful and technically demanding.
Stairs At The Time Of the Station's Opening
"1935 Stairs" During Museum Renovation
The "1935 Stairs" were built during the renovation of the museum. These stairs were constructed as a bridge from the ticket gate to the platform that went around the museum exhibits. The exhibition room of the museum was just below these stairs.
<img src="https://s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com/thegate/2019/06/26/17/56/03/Manseibashi-Station-1935-Stairs-Entrance.JPG"alt="Entrance of 1935 Stairs at mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi" />
1935 Stairs Entrance
Near the end of the stairs, there is also a part of a hand-drawn poster that was supposedly placed just before Manseibashi Station was closed. In addition, a touch-operated history guide has been placed for visitors.
Learn More About The History of Each Photo
Touch the pictures and illustrations on the screen to see the explanations. You can look at the building in detail while learning about the historical background of the era.
Stairs Created During Museum's Renovation
The "2013 Platform" Glass Box
When you climb the 1935 Stairs, you will see the 2013 Platform, which looks like a giant glass box. What was formerly the train platform was renovated to be a communal rest space.
Trains Pass On Both Sides
The platform is an observatory deck that allows movement between the 1912 Stairs, 2013 Platform and 1935 Stairs. It was built to give visitors a full view of the Kanda/Akihabara area, and an up-close view of the running trains.
Fantastic Night Atmosphere
At night, the atmosphere becomes magical against the backdrop of the illuminated red lights. The crowds of people tend to die down at night, so this would be a great time to visit.
"Manseibashi Station Diorama Model" Reproduces the Atmosphere of the Era
Inside the facility, the "Manseibashi Station Diorama Model", provided by the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, is on display. In addition to Manseibashi Station, dioramas of the surrounding towns and Manseibashi have been recreated.
Introducing The Restaurants and Specialty Shops of “mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi”
Within the facilities of mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi, there are 13 unique permanent stores as well as various pop-up stores. This area is ideal for shopping and dining, as well as for a quick stopover. Restaurants are open until 23:00 on weekdays, so you can dine after work. This time, we will introduce three stores recommended by our editorial members.
Perfect For Shopping And Eating
Platinum Fish: Dining between the Rails
Platinum Fish is located on the second floor of the facility. This restaurant has several stores in Tokyo, mainly in Shimbashi but none of them are quite like this. Here, the trains go back and forth at a mere metres away at your eye-level, making for a surreal dining experience.
■ Enjoy your Meal at the Railside
The glass interior is a great space where you can observe the busy Chuo Line at a few arms’ lengths. We recommend the outdoor terrace seating where you can watch the passing trains even closer.
Make Sure To Use The Outdoor Seating On A Sunny Day
■ A Full Dessert Menu
Platinum Fish prepares various menus using ingredients from all over Japan with the theme of regional revitalization. The full dessert menu makes it a great cafe option as well.
Our Favourite Desserts
Our recommended desserts are the milk roll-cake (864 JPY) and milk pudding (594 JPY), both shipped from Wakayama prefecture’s Kurosawa Ranch. The cows that produce this milk are raised by grazing in the fields -- a rare practice in Japan.
■ Enjoy the Night View of Akihabara
At night, the restaurant gives you a full view of Akihabara’s night lights. It’s a perfect time for some cocktails and conversation.
Enjoy The Night View of Akihabara
Enjoy Ingredients From Yamagata Prefecture At "Fukumori"
This restaurant is particular about the natural ingredients it uses from Yamagata Prefecture. The menu incorporates abundant ingredients and knowledge from three ryokan in Yamagata Prefecture: Kameya at Yunohama, Takinoyu at Tendo Onsen, and Hayamakan at Kaminoyama Onsen.
■ A Secluded Atmosphere
Fukumori is located on the first floor of mAAch ecute. In front of the store is "MANSEI BRIDGE", which sells lifestyle goods. The restaurant is hard to spot if it’s your first visit.
You Can Buy Miscellaneous Goods And Souvenirs Here As Well
■ A Menu With Plenty of Ingredients From Yamagata Prefecture
At this restaurant, you can enjoy various menus depending on the time of day. You can enjoy daily lunch during the day, dessert menu after noon, and specialty sake at night.
The restaurant has a calm European style. It’s based on a slow, French-style cafe lounge, and has sofa seats in addition to tables.
The popular lunch menu item here is the "Yamagata beef hamburger set meal" (1,000 JPY, quantity limited). A hamburger made with Yamagata beef, which is characterized by its rich and mellow taste, causes the juice to spread throughout the mouth each time it is chewed. A daily "meat set meal" and "fish set meal" can be enjoyed at the same price.
Thick "Fukumori ☆ Hot Cake with Yamagata Prefecture Honey
Our recommended cafe menu is "Fukumori ☆ Hot Cake-with Honey from Yamagata Prefecture" (700 JPY). The hotcake is made with “Benihana Egg”, local to Yamagata, whose thick yolk gives the pancake a pleasant fluffy texture. Make sure to add the hot butter and honey, also from Yamagata Prefecture.
The popular "cream soda" uses plenty of seasonal fruits. The ingredients vary depending on the season. ; one day, it may be cherries from Yamagata, and on others it may be strawberries from the Tohoku region.
■ The night-time ambience
At night, the open deck along the Kanda River is lit up, creating a beautiful atmosphere. It’s perfect for dates and get-togethers.
Romantic Atmosphere at Night
A Treasure Box of Craft Beer "Hitachino Brewing Lab"
Hitachino Brewing Lab Kanda Manseibashi is a retailer of Hitachino Nest Beer. Based on the concept of a lab bar where you can taste, enjoy and learn, this is a store where you can enjoy the special Hitachino Nest Beer and food.
Inside The Store
■ Hitachino Nest Beer’s Global Recognition
"Hitachino Nest Beer" is a Japanese craft beer that is enjoyed in more than 40 countries around the world.The Hitachino Beer and its brewing techniques have also gained recognition in contests around the world. They use the techniques of the Kiuchi Sake Brewery, which has been operating a sake brewery in Naka City, Ibaraki Prefecture since 1823. The store also features an array of craft beer and provides opportunities to learn about beer brewing. In the brewing kettle inside the store, you can experience "wort brewing experience" of their original beer. (* Reservation required, check HP for details）
There is also an exhibition where you can learn about beer at the counter
In addition, there is an exhibition that allows you to study various aspects of beer-making. At the counter, there is an exhibit that lets you compare the scents of different hops. If you have any questions, the store employees are there to answer too!
From The Left, "Ale", "Nipponia", "White Ale"
Our recommendation is Hitachino Nest Beer's "White Ale". In the beer contest "World Beer Cup" held in the United States once every two years, the White Ale has won gold prizes twice in 2000 and 2004. It has also won awards in various contests both in Japan and overseas. It has a refreshing aroma and soft taste, and it is popular with women because the bitterness of hops is also suppressed.
There are also beers unique to Japan. "Nipponia '' is a product brewed from wheat produced in Japan and the ingredients of hops bred in Japan. It is brewed from Japanese original ingredients and has a rich citrus flavor. "Daidai Ale" is a product that emanates the fresh scent of mandarin oranges using " Fukure mandarin orange", a small mandarin orange from Ibaraki prefecture that has been cultivated since ancient times. Perfect for those who want to enjoy a fruity scent.
■ Specialty Dishes That Make Use of Ingredients From Ibaraki Prefecture
The food available is produced by Sugie Noriyuki, who is known as a star chef in New York, USA. The food is characterized by its use of ingredients from Ibaraki Prefecture. Our recommendation is "Hitachino Mackerel" (680 JPY - tax included). They use thick mackerel from Ibaraki prefecture and original vinegar - the compatibility of mackerel juiciness and vinegar's acidity is delicious.
■ Buy Souvenirs at Kiuchi Sake Brewery
At the Kiuchi Sake Brewery, you can purchase special sake directly from the brewery. In addition to the award-winning “Kikusakari” at the “National New Sake Appraisal”, the market also sells “Kiuchi Umeshu”, which was the best in Japan at the largest Tenma Tenjin Plum Wine Festival in Japan. You can also buy original goods - make sure to take a look.
Kiuchi Sake Brewery
Akihabara's Hidden Underpass “mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi”
"mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi" has been attracting attention as a place for cultural exchange, overcoming various events in the history of about 100 years. In addition to the three stores introduced this time, there are many more restaurants and shops with a stylish atmosphere. It will definitely be a favorite spot that you will want to introduce to others.
Night View of Akihabara