Tokyo Impressions (Part 1/2)

First week in Tokyo. The flight went well, although it seemed a little long at the end. 11:30 flight, it’s not an easy task. The 8-hour time difference with France were felt, especially at the beginning of the week. The weather was cloudy almost everyday. The hotel is very simple (tatami and futon), but I did not encounter many people. Despite my (few) hours of learning, I have some difficulty for speaking Japanese. These first few days have left me a strange feeling. Between familiarity, originality and solitude.

Despite the gray weather and rain, I began to explore Tokyo. I spent most of my time wandering in historic and popular Northeast neighborhoods of the capital.

TAITÔ

Taitô is one of 23 districts constituting Tokyo and contains the Ueno, Akihabara and Asakusa districts. My hotel is located at the northeast boundary of the borough, in a quiet area largely residential. The houses are divided into blocks of buildings organized around large arteries where the shops are located. Inside the blocks, the streets are small, quiet and it feels good to do cycling. I spent an entire afternoon wandering around the streets, just to discover the neighborhood. I came across several small temples, lost among the houses. The streets do not have addresses, so I let my feet guide me.

Taitô district – Tokyo – © Claire Blumenfeld

YANAKA

Yanaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tokyo. The neighborhood has survived almost miraculously to multiple disasters that struck Tokyo over the centuries (the great fire that consumed Tokyo (then Edo) in 1657, the earthquake in Kanto that destroyed much of the city in 1923, American bombing during the second World War). Located in the Shitamachi ( “lower city” meaning popular area once inhabited by the workers, merchants and craftsmen, as opposed to Yamanote “high city”, upscale neighborhood, formerly gathering the homes of the feudal elite), Yanaka, with Nezu and Sendai districts form the Yanesen area, filled with temples and shrines.

The first time I visited the area, it was pouring rain and it was getting dark. Must say that the night falls at 4pm in Japan! Strolling through the streets, the cemetery and temples, I felt a strange sensation. A mixture of calm, antic, mysticism. But also a little melancholy of a bygone era that I know only through animated or filmed movies and whose I contemplate today the last testimonies.

Sotoba are wooden planks standing behind the graves, on which is inscribed the kaimyo, the new name carried by the person in his life after death.

Tennoji Temple - Yanaka district – Tokyo – © Claire Blumenfeld

UENO

Ueno is a neighborhood consisting mainly of a large park with the Tokyo zoo, several temples and shrines and many museums including the famous Tokyo National Museum. Further south lies the shopping district of Ameyayokochô.

Ema – Ueno district – Tokyo – © Claire Blumenfeld
Ema are wooden plates on which is written wishes or prayers.

Ueno Park seemed much smaller than I imagined. And a little sad despite the animation. I must say it was gray and the park is famous for its cherry blossoms (in March, April), so not really the season. Part of the Shinobazu pond was covered with giant water lilies slightly faded. Curious vision!

Shinobazu pond – Ueno district – Tokyo – © Claire Blumenfeld

2 comments

  1. Super ce blog. Je vais le suivre…
    Je te souhaite un excellent voyage qui j’espère te permettra de t’enrichir. C’est clair tu as choisi la bonne destination pour cela.
    Bon faut être honnête, je t’envie un peu 😉

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