Rolling around Sendagi

| May 27, 2012

Rolling around Sendagi

The Yanesen district of central Tokyo, whose name features bits of the names of the three neighborhoods it comprises (Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi), charms visitors with its temple-studded streets, craft shops and prewar architecture. Oddly, though, maps in either Japanese or English rarely guide ...

Foxtrotting around Asukayama

| Apr 29, 2012

Foxtrotting around Asukayama

Rising amid flat farmland, Asukayama had long been an untended haunt of foxes and their small prey when, in 1720, Yoshimune Tokugawa, the eighth shogun to rule in Edo (present-day Tokyo), had the hilly upland planted with 1,200 cherry trees, 100 maples and 100 ...

Plum nuts about Ikegami

| Mar 25, 2012

Plum nuts about Ikegami

Whether you call the Prunus mume a plum or an apricot (it is related to both), the flowers are plum elegant on their leafless, shiny branches and help cheer us through winter’s finale. To enjoy them to the full, I seek out Ikegami Baien ...

Venturing into the zone on Showajima

| Feb 26, 2012

Venturing into the zone on Showajima

In his “Meditation XVII,” the English Metaphysical poet John Donne wrote in 1623 that “no man is an island, entire of itself.” Well, yes — but some islands are entirely more manly than others. Take Showajima (Showa Island) in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, for example. ...

Blazing trails in Chiyoda's gardens

| Nov 27, 2011

Blazing trails in Chiyoda's gardens

With November drawing to a close, I head to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace and the adjacent Kitanomaru Koen park, hoping for fall colors and a mental breather before the season goes nutcrackers with parties and shopping. Despite being at the city’s ...

Building excitement in Shirokanedai

| Aug 28, 2011

Building excitement in Shirokanedai

Exiting the Nanboku Line at Shirokanedai Station in west-central Tokyo, my sandaled feet immediately start to sizzle. So instead of walking to Meguro’s Institute of Nature Study as planned, I bolt down the first shaded slope I find. A chic aluminum-and-glass building with a ...

Shooting galleries in Nihonbashi

| Jul 31, 2011

Shooting galleries in Nihonbashi

Summertime, and the living’s less easy than queasy as Tokyo’s temperatures and humidity soar. It’s like that as I exit the Hibiya Line’s Kodenmacho Station, in Chuo Ward, headed for Jisshi Koen, the area’s sole park. My plan is to walk northeast, to the ...

Morishita: treats in place of the trees

| Jun 26, 2011

Morishita: treats in place of the trees

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. According to Akinori Saito, a historian in Tokyo’s Koto Ward Office, the area known as Morishita (lit. “forest below”) was most likely named for woods that surrounded the yashiki (residence) of a feudal lord ...