At the Roppongi Hills complex in Central Tokyo the question isn't "what is there to do?" but "what isn't there to do?" Art museums, gardens, schools, movie theatres, apartments, world-famous restaurants, designer shopping, and some of the best Tokyo sightseeing are all found here. And every building, bush, and brush stroke in this mini-city has that gleaming look of newness. Opened in 2003 after seventeen years of planning and construction, The Roppongi Hills complex is arguably Tokyo's most upscale neighborhood.
Though perhaps neighborhood isn't really the right word—Roppongi Hills is more of a city within a city. Eight themed areas blend into one another, with the focal point being the 54 story Mori Tower (which houses the art museum, among other things). Other areas include the shopping center, and the art and cinema complexes areas. Roppongi Hills is compact-with the idea being to build up, rather than out-so each of the areas are within walking distance of one another.
But more than the skyscraping Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills-main draw are the designer department stores and boutiques offering some of the best shopping in Japan. Facing the lush Mori Gardens, the Roppongi Hills shopping center is home to Banana Republic, Diesel, Louis Vuitton and more. Some of the best shopping in Japan is found in this Hillside area. But the most expensive shopping in Japan is located in the Keyakizaka Dori section of Roppongi Hills. Strictly an upper-end shopper's delight, this area is known as the "Rodeo Drive" of Tokyo. Discerning shoppers can chose from Gucci, Armani and Christian La Croix, and then take a break on one of the interesting art-themed benches that line the main avenue.
In fact everywhere you go in the Roppongi Hills there are outdoor sculptures that make for great Tokyo sightseeing. The highlights of Roppongi's sidewalk art include a 10-meter giant spider, towering toy robots that look down on pedestrians and light up at night, and a steel rose the size of bus.
In addition to Tokyo sightseeing, shopping and fine dining, the Virgin Cinemas Roppongi Hills provide an ultra-modern entertainment option. As with anything entrepreneur Richard Branson lays his hands on, the Virgin Cinema Roppongi Hills spares no expense. With only nine screens, the Virgin Cinema Roppongi Hills has a quality over quantity approach. Not only does the cinema boast Japan's biggest screen, but the theatres themselves are plushly decorated and as comfortable as your living room.
Places like Roppongi Hills are what modern Japan is becoming. Love 'em or leave, they are here to stay, and will continue to transform and define city life for millions of people.