Tokyo to buy National Children’s Castle

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is in talks to buy the National Children’s Castle building and land in Shibuya from the national government. The once popular arts and entertainment complex closed its doors in 2015, ending 30 years of operations.

The rear of the Castle property adjoins a large site that was originally the Aoyama Hospital, but currently a home display center. There have been suggestions in the past that the two sites could be redeveloped together sometime after the 2020 Olympics. For now, however, Tokyo Governor Koike is keen to utilize the existing building, potentially reviving it as a children’s amusement center along with other public services for elderly and entrepreneurs. It could be re-opened by as early as 2020.

The Japanese government opened the Castle in 1985. The 13-storey building had a gym, pool, arts studio, hall, roof garden, seminar rooms and office space. In 2012, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced the planned closure of the building, citing its age and high maintenance costs. Renovations required to keep it operating were estimated at 12 billion Yen. Former Tokyo Governor Masuzoe had previously reached an agreement to acquire the property for 37 billion Yen (approx. 330 million USD), demolish it and relocate the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital to the site but these plans were overturned in 2016 by Governor Koike.

The site, along with the neighboring United Nations University, was originally the Aoyama Depot for the Tokyo tram network which stopped running in the 1960s. During the Edo period, this site formed part of the expansive grounds of the Inaba daimyo family’s Tokyo mansion. In the Meiji era, the property fell under government ownership. The only remaining trace of the former Edo-period mansion is a small pond located at the rear of the home display center.

Location

Sources:
The Nikkei Shimbun, September 26, 2018.
The Sankei Shimbun, September 26, 2018.
The Mainichi Shimbun, September 26, 2018.