I’m here! Not much to show yet, as I didn’t quite nail the settings for properly shooting such a light-ambient city on my first night walk around Tokyo.
The immediate neighborhood is midway between Roppongi and Akasaka, not far from Tokyo Midtown. The word Roppongi means “six trees,” and the name dates back almost four centuries when the area was marked by half a dozen distinctive zelkova, also known as Japanese elm.
Here’s an aerial photo of the district:
As you can see, there’s a nice balance between green areas and urban density. Whereas New York has a very straightforward grid layout and you can get a feel for the dimensions of the city by looking down certain avenues running the length or width of the island, it’s easy to see why some people say Tokyo feels never-ending, one big sprawl of twisting streets, hills and alleys.
There’s also a verticality that gives it a different feel from American cities. Manhattan is famous for its urban “canyons,” but oftentimes there’s a clear demarcation between residential and commercial, both horizontally and vertically. Stores and restaurants are almost always on street level, while upper levels are either apartments or offices.
In this part of Tokyo the restaurants, shops, karaoke bars and movie theaters are just as likely to be on the 10th floor as the first, and the signs are often inscrutable even when they’re in English: A sign for one place, called Seven, includes no information about what kind of establishment it is beyond a cryptic piece of text that reads “I like when fight pure.”
Maybe it’s a boxing gym where they’re really sensitive about the rules. Or maybe it’s a bar where Japanese women mud-wrestle. Either one seems just as likely.
Below are some day shots, including a koi pond in the courtyard of my brother’s building. I’m not sure if Buddy would lick his lips or run in terror from these koi. They’re pretty big. And orange. And they jump! Any one of those things are enough to strike fear in the heart of the scaredy cat. Strange to think they can live as long as 35 years.
Meanwhile back in New York…
Looking at this photo, it almost seems like Buddy’s laying there dejected, thinking “Woe is me! Where has my Big Buddy gone? I am lost without him!”
Yet my mom reports Buddy waited for me and barely ate the first night, then by the second night he realized he’s still getting treated like a king, so he’s over it. The little jerk!