Capital of the East

I USED TO LIVE IN SHITAYA (下谷) in the old Shitamachi (downtown) area, just up from Ueno, the geomantic gateway to the demonic northeast. I stayed in a sharehouse in a nagaya (tenement house) with a bunch of foreigners and Japanese, many of them friendly and vivacious, some of them completely insane...

Satellite Panoramic Map of the Area around 35 52' 19" N, 139 28' 29" E
Tokyo, Capital of the East

Tokyo is of course the ultimate megalopolis, and there are many centers to this sprawl, many Tokyos if you like, one for each of the functions that it performs. According to the map, Tokyo Station seems to be the center of the city, but this is not necessarily the case. For photographers, Tokyo might be Rainbow Bridge on a sunny afternoon, the towers of Shimbashi, or the mad scramble of pedestrians crossing at Shibuya. Shinjuku is the business heart of Tokyo, while Shinagawa is port city, and gateway to the south. Odaiba is a little Tokyo in itself, an artificial island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. For me, however, the center of Tokyo is Shitamachi, the old downtown from the Edo Era. That is where I lived for 6 years, perhaps the best years of my life, ...

To me Tokyo (along with New York, and Hong Kong) epitomizes the "concrete jungle", it is what the concrete jungle is all about. It is an ecosystem populated by vehicles, humans and machines, and an environment which is vertical as well as horizontal... there be subways beneath the streets, and possibly penguins on a skyscraper roof. Climb 10 stories floors in an office block and you might find a nightclub or jazz bar, or an outlet selling rare Adidas. I have seen all of the above, and more...

Near Takadobaba Station, in 2004

There be trucks that can talk, and vending machines on every corner.

It's an indoor as much as an outdoor world, with delights on every floor.

Endless corridors, and stairways to nowhere.

Approaching Tokyo Midtown, in Roppongi, in 2010

It is a historical jungle too, with the new in constant battle with the old, and rising wherever it takes root. Before there was Tokyo, there was Edo. Before there was Edo, there was Musashi.


AS I HAVE ALREADY explained, Tokyo is not one but a multitude of cities, each with their roles to play in the function of the whole. Nihombashi (literally: "Japan Bridge"), has been the mile zero marker for Japan's national highway network since the early Edo Period. It is a short distance from Ginza, the most upmarket shopping district. I prefer the seedier side of town. With its 250 emporiums crammed with gadgets and maid cafes, Akihabara (秋葉原) is an electronics heaven, and an anime hell.

Japanese Schoolgirl, in Akihabara

If schoolgirls are your thing, you can see them there.

Ikebukuro is also the student center of Tokyo (in my opinion), and there are loads of cheap restaurants, karaoke joints, darts clubs, and Internet cafes where you can stay the night.

» Akihabara (秋葉原)
» Asakusa (浅草)
» Ginza
» Harajuku (春原)
» Ikebukuro (池)
» Kameido (亀戸)
» Kanda (神田)
» Meguro (目)
» Nezu
» Roppongi (六本木)
» Shibuya (渋谷)
» Shinagawa (品川)
» Shinjuku (原)
» Shimbashi (橋)
» Takadanobaba (田馬)
» Tokyo Disneyland (東亰ディズニド)
» Tsukiji Fish Market

» Ueno (上野)
» Yoyogi Park (木)


» Hotels & Guesthouses
» Moving House in Japan
» Restaurant Guide
» Sights & Attractions
» Shopping (買)


» Tokyo Map


THERE ARE 23 wards (KU) IN TOKYO. I probably visited most of them, in my 10 years living in Japan. Often, one of my preferred ways to get around them, was to walk. Interestingly enough, they all seemed to have a character and an aesthetic of their own. Ikebukuro is the student quarter... Around Nippori, a lot of the trees are lined by willows. Kanda is all overhead train lines, salarymen, and hordes of OLs...

One of the first places I worked in Japan was at Ousaki, in the hills overlooking Shinagawa, a major port in southern Tokyo.

» Adachiku
» Arakawaku (川区)
» Bunkyouku (文亰区)
» Edogawaku (江戸川区)
» Chiyodaku (千田)
» Kitaku (北区)
» Setagayaku (世田)
» Shibuyaku (渋谷)
» Shinjukuku (区)
» Sumidaku (墨田区)
» Taitoku (台東区)
» Toshimaku (島唺)


» Chibaken (千葉県)
» Saitamaken ()


» Tokyo Photo Ring
» Tokyo Streetscapes
» Virtual Tokyo (Street Explorer)


» Danny Choo (Culture Japan)
» Mahou (anime & popular culture)
» Japan This! (Marky Star)
» Tokyo Notice Board
» Tokyo Railway Labyrinth

Return to Japan Country Hub

By Robert Sullivan. Contact me by email: Visit my profile.  
phone: (0431) 749-185 (AUSTRALIA)

If this page has enriched your life, consider sending me a donation at the following Bitcoin wallet: