Japanese nickname: Ni-yon-roku (246)
The inspiration people seek: For many Japanese people, Route 246’s nickname Ni-yon-roku carries a ring of urbanity. The towns that line R246 shine in people’s imaginations as centers of the sophistication associated with urban life; from places of elegance and lavishness to areas where talent and intellect come together to give birth to art, technology and creativity of all kinds.
The showrooms of the world’s top brands boast displays in all product categories from all corners of the globe, and at the same time, there’s also a magnetic pull to 246 that feeds the aspirations of up and coming brands to eventually open their own showrooms alongside the big name brands. This “urban magnetism” attracts people from all walks of life to spend time in the area in ways that please them the most, and many come in style - with vehicles of all ages, makes and categories. This gives R246 another appeal as a virtual “moving museum” of famous cars and motorcycles.
Nights bring out an impressive parade of shiny luxury cars, sports cars with exhaust notes that make heads turn, as well as customized bikes and cars showing off the interests, tastes and styles of their owners. For car and motorcycle lovers alike, the number 246 is a code that signifies goals, dreams, and even fantasies.
In short: “National Route 246,” or R246 for short, is a major highway that starts at the Miyakezaka intersection on Uchibori-dori, Tokyo’s innermost ring road that runs along the west side of the Inner Moat (Uchibori) of what was Edo Castle in the center of the city. From Miyakezaka, R246 runs through the castle guardpost of Akasaka-mitsuke, and the fashionable districts of Aoyama, Omotesando and Shibuya before continuing westward out of the city for approximately 130 km until it reaches the base of Mt. Fuji.
The section of R246 running from its starting point at Miyakezaka to Shibuya is named Aoyama-dori, while the section running from Shibuya through to Sangenjaya and Futako-tamagawa (nicknamed Sancha and Nikotama) is called Tamagawa-dori. For much of its distance, Tamagawa-dori runs beneath the elevated Route 3 of Tokyo’s Shutoko metropolitan expressway system. Also known as the Shibuya Line, Route 3 connects to the Tomei Expressway, the main artery running between Eastern and Western Japan.
Some say that this section of R246 has more motorcycle traffic than any road in Japan, and it’s definitely a route that can’t be ignored in any story of Japan’s motorcycle culture.
Some background: Back when Tokyo was still known as “Edo,” R246 was called the Yagurazawa-okan, and it was an important trade route with a constant flow of people and pack horses. At the time, Edo was already one of the world’s largest metropolises, and those traveling on R246 often bore famous regional goods destined for its markets like tea from Shizuoka and sweetfish from the Sagami River. The route was also known as the Oyama-kaido, the highroad traveled by many on pilgrimages to Mt. Oyama, which, along with Mt. Fuji, was considered a “sacred mountain” from ancient times. Read more Many towns along R246 where people gather today have a long history as lodging towns and relay points that prospered along the old highroad. The constant flow of people, goods, money and information along the road gave birth to culture that enriched the lives of the people along it. Interestingly, it wasn’t until July 1956 (Showa 31) that it was finally designated as a National Route, much later than similar roads. The holding of the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964 brought many changes to the route and its surroundings, and since its designation as “National Route 246” in March 1965, this thoroughfare has continued to shine brightly as a symbol over the years.