Postcards from Tokyo

“…we’ll wait a little for a signal to turn green before entering Earl’s Court station, apologies for the inconvenience” the voice on the tannoy said to a chorus of groans, moans and a choreography of rolling eyes. Framed in a corner of that Piccadilly Line car, hot and bored, I wished I could grow wings to fly away, once and for all, from London, the city least suited to be a megalopolis.

It’s in moments like these that I wish I could move back to the sort of provincial town I grew up in or, if I really had to stay in a large city, to a place whose infrastructure wouldn’t shut down on weekends or crumble to pieces every other day. Inevitably in such moments, my memory brings me to what I found to be the most relaxing, polite, clean, safe and remarkably efficient megalopolis I ever had the chance to visit: Tokyo. These are photos from my time there a few years back; even if I never felt like I could live there forever, I cannot deny that, today, I miss Tokyo immensely.

imageAn expressway sneaking away from Roppongi, cutting in two a borough made of tiny and impeccably neat streets.
imageCondensation, Shimbashi.
imageThe Dentsu Building, by Jéan Nouvel
imageA normal day on the Yamanote Line, where trains run every other minute, aren’t regulated by a Jurassic signalling system and people don’t run bayonet charges to gain the best seats at every station.
imageThe viewing deck of Roppongi’s Mori Tower on a rainy afternoon. We spent some time there after visiting an exhibition of Ai Weiwei and, for the entire time we’ve been there, I was half-expecting a synthetic owl to fly gracefully from one corner to the other.
imageUeno junction, one (of many) drunken nights.
imageCatching a Nozomi Shinkansen at Tokyo’s Central Station
imageI seem to remember they were playing a Goldfrapp tune at that time.
One of Japan’s best inventions: plastic, see-through umbrellas. They were priced at 99 Yen and had the power to make a rainy Saturday in Ginza dori a remarkably happy experience.
imageEven on a rainy, windswept day Tokyo looked full of charm.
imageTextures, Shimbashi
imageEvery major station in Tokyo has its own corollary of skyscrapers, shopping areas and loud megascreens, but Shimbashi had a new, interesting concept for Japan: a public square. Not knowing what to do with it, the council had turned it in the only public smoking place of the areas, in a blatant attempt to mimick Beijing’s atmosphere.
 imageShinjuku’s business district is a deliciously démodé cluster of skyscrapers built in the 1980s, at the height of the bubble economy. Tokyo’s most daring new buildings might now be found elsewhere, but Shinjuku has remained a very nice place to walk with head pointed up.
imageNot many cities can boast such an impressive City Hall-cum-free-observatory, located in the two towers at the top. You’d seriously expect Godzilla to show up and this tower to morph into a robot to fight it off.
This entry was posted in Asia, Japan, Random memories, Tokyo and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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