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.
In the quiet and aloneness of early morning, the impression of a village is particularly strong.
And there are shrines and temples – fascinations of mine, anyways – around many a corner.
Temple areas make for a very different feel, anyways, interrupting the cityscape with a different style of building and, typically, greenery.
The Nezu district, where I went to have a late lunch at Kamachiku, had even more of a village feel…
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…
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…
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.