Tokyo, the Village Megalopolis

Tokyo. The megalopolis. An urban agglomeration, home to millions of people, unbroken cityscape…
Go up the Tokyo Skytree for the view from a distance, and you can easily see that.

But if it is that, then the all-encompassing city has become a village. Or rather, a vast and seemingly never-ending collection of villages. And nature.

It just takes the step from the distant view to that in the middle of it all, wandering around and drifting through different neighborhoods, and the different character of different parts of Tokyo becomes apparent.

At the beginning of my Japan trip, I stayed in the Adachi ward to the north of central Tokyo.

This area is a good introduction to that “village” impression of Tokyo. Sure, there are also some apartment high-rises, but for the most part, the houses are the typical slim-and-tall (at least, in relation) single-family homes pretty common in Japan.

Adachi Ward at Sumida River in early morning, looking towards Tokyo Skytree
Adachi Ward at Sumida River in early morning, looking towards Tokyo Skytree

In the quiet and aloneness of early morning, the impression of a village is particularly strong.

Early morning in northern Tokyo. Sure, the road is somewhat wide, some buildings are tall - but there are also small shops, bikes on the roadside railings, flowers in pots...
Early morning in northern Tokyo. Sure, the road is somewhat wide, some buildings are tall – but there are also small shops, bikes on the roadside railings, flowers in pots…

And there are shrines and temples – fascinations of mine, anyways – around many a corner.

Kanefukuinari Shrine
House left, parking spot right, Kanefukuinari Shrine in its own little space

Temple areas make for a very different feel, anyways, interrupting the cityscape with a different style of building and, typically, greenery.

Senso-ji, Tokyo
In this case, the well-known Senso-ji of Asakusa (Taito ward)

The Nezu district, where I went to have a late lunch at Kamachiku, had even more of a village feel…

Nezu District, Tokyo
Nezu District, Tokyo. One of the major roads here…

Part of this area was particularly fascinating to me as there were lots of temple grounds all right next to each other, there. They looked to be quite well-maintained. And hardly in use…

Cemetery area in one of the many temples in Nezu District
Cemetery area in one of the many temples in Nezu District. Okay, not exactly the kind of place where one should speak of its (recognizable) “use”, I’ll admit.

Hibiya Park, in the middle of Tokyo (just south of the Imperial Palace) is surrounded by high-rises. And yet, brought about another sense of village character:

When I visited there, it was not just a park of people out for a stroll. A garden show, of a kind, was being held and showed how people got creative to get a sense of nature into the city, and how city-cens enjoyed green surroundings…

Hibiya Park 'Garden' Show
Hibiya Park ‘Garden’ Show
Plant art for the win. 'Garden' show at Hibiya Park, Tokyo, October 2017
Plant art for the win. ‘Garden’ show at Hibiya Park, Tokyo, October 2017

On my way back to my room, back in Adachi ward again, I ended up in groups of elementary school students. They all went onto (and as it turned out, just through) the grounds of the Shinto shrine I had noticed in the early morning. So, I paid it a visit, this time around.

Students in yellow hats – to be better visible for traffic – filed past, paying their respects. Flags for the Shichi-Go-San Festival were all around. Sun was out. Yet again, it did not feel like the Blade Runner-esque mega-metropolis:

Shinjuku and Shibuya, later on in my trip, would provide different impressions and have a different feel again.

But from here, I first went onto the Kumano Kodo, to Osaka and to Kyoto.

And what's your take?