TOKYOTHE FLAVOR OF HIBIYANearby are the many floors of elegant new shops and terrace restaurants in the fashionable Tokyo Midtown Hibiya complex down the street from The Imperial, and of course the sleek shops lining the streets along Tokyo's fabled Ginza. Look for glimpses of our legendary but entirely unterrifying Godzilla, who despite his cinemagraphic, fiery halitosis remains widely loved by the citizens of Tokyo. Hibiya offers newcomers a wonderful introduction to the capital's many delights and changing faces.18If you're reading this in the Imperial Hotel, you're in Hibiya, an historic district which at the end of the Edo Period was perhaps Tokyo's most captivating and active international neighborhood - where everything was state of the art and utterly exotic. Once an exclusive neighborhood of tile-topped, patrician mansions with walled, leafy gardens, by the 1880s it had emerged as an extraordinarily popular gathering place for foreign traders, ambitious local aristocrats and the diplomatic corps. It was home to the fabled Rokumeikan, an elegant wooden Victorian style mansion and international social center patronized by Japan's richest families and the tiny but growing international community, and the location of the Imperial Hotel, the biggest, newest, most luxurious hotel in the Far East at the time, and so exotic a sight that native Tokyoites are said to have pressed their noses against the glass windows where inside at tables hefty, hirsute foreigners in bizarre attire dined on beef and pork, four legged animals that until recently had been forbidden for consumption by Buddhist precepts. Above is a cityscape of contemporary Hibiya, from the park across the avenue.16

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