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Sakura, Sakura: The Cherry Blossoms of Tokyo
For a short period at the beginning of April, the word “sakura” was a prominent noun in approximately 75% of the sentences I heard. Because when Tokyo’s cherry trees bloom, there’s no talking about anything else. You’re either chatting about the blossoms, planning your picnic in the park, sitting in a rowboat on a pond ringed by cherry trees, or strolling along a path while the petals flutter to the ground around you like the sweetest, most fragrant snowfall imaginable. In any case, “sakura” is the topic of conversation… Read More

Apr 09, 2014

The Arakawa Tram and the Paper Museum
The streetcars which used to crisscross Tokyo have almost entirely disappeared. But in the northern neighborhood of Minoya, we found the system’s sole survivor. The Arakawa Tram runs to Waseda via Asukayama Park, where we disembarked to visit a museum dedicated to paper… Read More

Apr 07, 2014

Pooped Out In Tokyo
The headquarters of Asahi Breweries sports one of Tokyo’s most puzzling bits of architecture. The building is meant to resemble an overflowing mug, with a drop of amber beer splashing down the side… but that drop looks an awful lot like something else. And so everyone knows the Asahi Beer Hall as the “Golden Poo”… Read More

Apr 06, 2014

Asakusa Amusements
Its reputation as the entertainment center of Tokyo has long since faded, the Kabuki Theaters relocated and geishas (mostly) vanished, but the northeastern neighborhood of Asakusa still boasts a few attractions apart from the temple of Senso-ji… Read More

Apr 03, 2014

Sensō-ji Temple
Constructed in the year 645, Tokyo’s oldest temple is the Sensō-ji, in the neighborhood of Asakusa. Like everything else in this city plagued by earthquakes and fire, it’s been rebuilt multiple times, but the temple remains one of the city’s most historic and popular sights… Read More

Apr 03, 2014

The Golden Dragon Dance of Senso-Ji
The Nakamise-Dori shopping street in front of Senso-Ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, is always crowded. But today, not a single person was paying attention to the sweets or souvenirs on offer. Instead, all eyes were cast upwards, as a 60-foot dragon wound its way above the crowd. It was March 18th and Senso-Ji was celebrating the Kinryu no Mai, or Golden Dragon Dance… Read More

Mar 30, 2014

Hibiya Park & The Outer Palace Gardens
For such a congested and populous city, Tokyo has a surprising amount of green space. Take, for example, the area directly outside the Imperial Palace. The Kyoko Gaien (Outer Garden) once held the houses of the provincial lords, and today offers people a spacious place to stretch out on the grass. We visited it, as well as the nearby Hibiya Park, on a sunny Sunday afternoon… Read More

Mar 28, 2014

Tokyo Station and Marunouchi
The sprawling Tokyo Station, at the center of the city, serves an outrageous 3000 trains a day. Simply walking through it can be a maddening struggle. Just to find the subway line which would take me home, I needed 40 minutes in Tokyo Station, three separate information stands, and an underground hike of over a kilometer. I wish it were so, but that is in no way an exaggeration… Read More

Mar 25, 2014

The Streets of Ryogoku
Home to the Edo-Tokyo Museum and best known as the heart of sumo wrestling, the northeastern neighborhood of Ryogoku conceals a few other worthwhile attractions. Fireworks, sumo food, Ronin, and the most depressing temple imaginable were all part of our day in Ryogoku… Read More

Mar 24, 2014

The Edo-Tokyo Museum
After noticing the gargantuan white hulk of the Edo-Tokyo Museum from atop the SkyTree, we wondered how even the world’s biggest city could possibly justify such a huge history museum. But as we realized after visiting, when the exhibits include full-scale reconstructions of theaters, houses and banks, the extra room comes in handy… Read More

Mar 24, 2014

The Earthquake Memorial Park and Kyu Yasuda Garden
Just before noon on September 1st, 1923, Tokyo was struck by the most devastating earthquake in its history. 70% of the city’s housing was destroyed and over 140,000 people lost their lives during the quake, as well as in the subsequent fires which raged uncontrollably through the streets… Read More

Mar 24, 2014

A Concise History of Tokyo
Unlike many of the places we’ve visited, Tokyo doesn’t have a history which streches far into the past. In fact, before the close of the 19th century, Tokyo didn’t even exist; the city was called Edo. But Tokyo’s rapid ascension from village to “World’s Biggest City” has been as catastrophic as it has been meteoric; growing pains are always the most brutal for those who mature too quickly… Read More

Mar 21, 2014

The Fisher Village of Tsukishima
On the western edge of the man-made island of Tsukishima, we found a small neighborhood ringed in completely by canals. Traditionally home to fishermen, this area feels somehow detached from the rest of Tokyo, with quiet lanes instead of broad boulevards, small two-story houses instead of steel skyscrapers, and an appealing atmosphere of small-town tranquility… Read More

Mar 20, 2014