Thatched spring in Setagaya

| Mar 28, 2010

Thatched spring in Setagaya

To slough off winter sluggishness and get into step with spring, I set a course from Seijo Gakuen-mae on the Odakyu Line to Jidayubori Minkaen — a compound of late-Edo Period (1860s) thatched farmhouses in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward — and ending at Futako Tamagawa ...

Bulking up in Bush Warbler Valley

| Feb 28, 2010

Bulking up in Bush Warbler Valley

I’d like to improve my grip on sumo wrestling, so when a friend invites me to watch the big boys tussle through a morning practice, I jump at the chance. I get off at Uguisudani (Bush Warbler Valley) Station on the Yamanote Line, where ...

Rags and riches by the Myoshoji

| Jan 31, 2010

Rags and riches by the Myoshoji

Few writers have been able to evoke the bare beams of poverty or the lambent lives of those who endure it with more dignity than Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951). It therefore seems fitting that I pick the iciest day of winter to walk northwest of ...

Fun and funky Fukagawa

| Dec 27, 2009

Fun and funky Fukagawa

After so many yearend parties and as the weather grows wintry in Tokyo, it might seem like madness to go for a walk, but a stroll east of the Sumida River, in Fukagawa, is an ideal way to clear the head. The area offers ...

Kichijoji captivations

| Nov 29, 2009

Kichijoji captivations

Kichijoji has shopping covered, literally and figuratively. The roofed malls at this popular stop on the Chuo Line 15 minutes west of Shinjuku sport prices markedly lower than those of central Tokyo, and the lure of its bargains is easily as strong as its ...

The haunting beauty that is Yushima

| Nov 1, 2009

The haunting beauty that is Yushima

On a glowering October morning, I exit the Chiyoda Line at Yushima Station and stroll northwesterly through the back streets of Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward. I am in search of Kyu-Iwasaki-tei, the Western-style residence commissioned by Baron Hisaya Iwasaki (1865-1955), third president of Mitsubishi, the ...

Hot stuff in Tsukishima

| Sep 27, 2009

Hot stuff in Tsukishima

Dating from 1892, Tsukishima is Tokyo’s oldest island of reclaimed land — and also its monjayaki Mecca. Once a cheap after-school treat cooked on griddles in working-class neighborhoods of postwar Tokyo, monjayaki has morphed into a dinner entre — and Tsukishima is the place ...

| Sep 27, 2009

Hot stuff in Tsukishima

Dating from 1892, Tsukishima is Tokyo’s oldest island of reclaimed land — and also its monjayaki Mecca. Once a cheap after-school treat cooked on griddles in working-class neighborhoods of postwar Tokyo, monjayaki has morphed into a dinner entre — and Tsukishima is the place ...

A textiles tour to dye for

| Aug 30, 2009

A textiles tour to dye for

A landlocked train stop named Hikifune (Tugboat) begs a question. Two such stations in Tokyo’s downtown Sumida Ward — the other is nearby Keisei Hikifune — suggest there should be some answers. I get out at Keisei Hikifune Station on a muggy afternoon during ...

| Jul 26, 2009

Hopping on through Mita

High on a hill in Tokyo’s central Mita district, the Australian Embassy is easy to spot. Two national coats of arms bolted to the outside of the building feature oversize images of emus and kangaroos, designated as symbols of this self-styled progressive nation because ...