Shinagawa (品川) is one of Tokyo's 23 wards, and Shinagawa Station is one of the city's busiest stations. Its convenience as a transportation hub has attracted many hotels, offices, restaurants and shops to the area. Shinagawa has been catering to travelers since the Edo Period (1603-1867), when it was the first stop on the main road linking Tokyo with Kyoto.
Shinagawa Station is one of the principal transportation hubs of Tokyo. The station connects many lines, including the Yamanote Line and the Tokaido Shinkansen. Direct train connections to both Haneda Airport and Narita Airport are provided by Keikyu Railways and the Narita Express, respectively. In effect, Shinagawa Station is a convenient place of departure for a great number of destinations.
Shinagawa Station has two exits, around which much development has taken place: the Takanawa Exit on the west side, and the Konan Exit on the east side. The Takanawa side has many hotels, and many branches of the Prince hotel chain in particular. There are a number of shopping malls, including the Shinagawa Prince Hotel complex that includes cinemas, bowling and the Epson Aqua Park Shinagawa aquarium with a variety of sea creatures, a dolphin pool and frequent shows.
The area around the Konan Exit has recently undergone extensive development. Many large office buildings and company headquarters are now located in the area. The buildings have been designed to meet all the needs of the workers; dining and shopping is available on the first few floors of each building, and a large garden space has been built to give the area a pleasant atmosphere.
Shinagawa developed into an important town in the early 1600s after the construction of the Tokaido, the principal route connecting Edo (modern day Tokyo) and Kyoto, and Shinagawa was the first of fifty-three post towns along the way after departing from Nihonbashi. Post towns provided food and lodgings for travelers, much like the hotels of Shinagawa do nowadays.
Eventually, the city of Tokyo expanded and absorbed Shinagawa. The rustic feel of a post town was replaced with the familiar trappings of a modern Japanese city. However, the former Tokaido road with a few minor shrines, temples and sites of interest have been retained. A small information center is located along the road near the Ebara Shrine.
The Hara Museum is a modern art gallery located in a residential area south-west of Shinagawa Station. The museum itself was once a residence, but was donated by the businessman Hara Kunizo. Many engaging examples of contemporary art are exhibited, and there is also a small restaurant and gift shop. The museum has an annex near Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture, called the Hara Museum ARC.
If walking between Shinagawa's sites has built up your appetite, there are two interesting places to eat, located below the train tracks. Shinatatsu Ramen consists of a group of branch restaurants of well known ramen shops serving their famous ramen dishes. Just beside is Shinatatsu Donburi, which has a mixture of shops specializing in different donburi meals, such as oyakodon, tendon and gyudon.