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History of Hiroo – The Town of embassies Japanese of this page

Post: Saturday October 11, 2014

Hiroo is a well-known area of Tokyo with an international taste and climate. But not many people may know that this environment is deeply rooted to its history.

Hiroo Hiroo residential area Hiroo Image
Hiroo Image

Back in the Edo Period, the present Hiroo area was located in the far west of the city of Edo, where many noble samurai families lived in lavish residences with spacious grounds.


Matthew Perry's "Black Ships".

At the end of the Edo Period came the end of Japan’s isolation policy from the world and an American legation was established inside Zenpukuji Temple in Moto-Azabu. During the Meiji Restoration era many other countries followed suit by locating their legations near the Hiroo area while the old samurai residences were replaced by residences of the imperial families and noble families.

samurai residence samurai residence
Samurai Residence


There were a couple of major reasons why so many foreign countries located their legations around Hiroo area:
1) it was located relatively in the center of Edo while still having good access to Yokohama, the initial landing port,
2) the area is on top of a hill in a higher altitude, hence with less humidity,
3) it was ideal for security reasons to establish legations close to each other,
4) the area had many large facilities such as old samurai residences and temples grounds with ample spaces good for inviting many foreign guests and groups of delegates.

The high class environment took root in the Hiroo area by the old residents of imperial families and noble families, whereas its international climate was historically established by the many foreign embassies. This has resulted in the mixed unique climate of the present Hiroo.




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