A west side love story

| Jan 25, 2009

A west side love story

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Tokyo’s lovers dust off chocolate-tempering pots, scope out sweet shops and reserve bouquets of roses. Of course, savvy romantics know a midwinter stroll along a back street, with requisite snuggling for warmth, works nearly as well to stoke affection as ...

Let's pray to the Great Black One

| Dec 19, 2008

Let's pray to the Great Black One

In Tokyo, it’s prudent to pray to the Great Black One if you want to improve your financial outlook for the coming year. Putting in a good word for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama wouldn’t hurt as well, once you arrive at the Slope of ...

'Tis a gift to be simple

| Nov 21, 2008

'Tis a gift to be simple

The best holiday presents wrap themselves — in your arms, that is. The rest of your gift-list responsibilities, whether for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Japanese oseibo (yearend gifts), can be taken care of near Asakusabashi Station. I’m usually way behind schedule getting presents together, ...

In the realm of fall's senses

| Oct 17, 2008

In the realm of fall's senses

With autumn nipping at the air, deciduous trees are primed to put on a color display known in Japanese as koyo. Though usually written with Japanese characters for “crimson” and “leaves,” koyo can also be written with the characters for “yellow” and “leaves” when ...

Daimyos and deluge around the Kanda River

| Sep 19, 2008

Daimyos and deluge around the Kanda River

Most major stretches of greenery in Tokyo are tax-trimmed remainders of massive estates once owned by Edo Period (1603-1867) feudal lords, or daimyo. So, in the wake of this summer’s torrential rain and dodging some early autumn typhoons, I set out to find a ...

Good cool hunting in Edogawa

| Aug 15, 2008

Good cool hunting in Edogawa

In Tokyo, when the going gets hot, the cool go to Hawaii, or flee to mountain resorts. Others plunk down their yen for a dip in a hotel or amusement-park pool. The rest of us steam in the stupefying humidity and hope our flip-flops ...

I ain't afraid of those ghosts

| Jul 18, 2008

I ain't afraid of those ghosts

There are lots of yureizaka (phantom slopes) in Tokyo, and at least seven of them have been spooking lily-livered pedestrians since the Edo Period (1603-1867). The slope I head for, in broad daylight, slants through the somnolent graveyards of old temples from the early ...

Harboring dreams

| Feb 1, 2008

Harboring dreams

Second of two parts At 4 a.m., southern Minato Ward’s Shibaura Pier is an indigo city of shipping containers, wind-borne detritus and flatbed cargo trucks. It is spooky and unlit but for Rainbow Bridge and its sparse predawn traffic. By 5 a.m., fishing boats ...

Where ambitions have long soared

| Jan 4, 2008

Where ambitions have long soared

First of two parts Minato Ward’s northern half is a Valhalla of ambitions. Towering skyscrapers, pinnacle purveyors of fashion and food, as well as top (and sometimes topless) entertainments all aspire to grandeur here. Newest in the latest Tokyo trend toward the vertical is ...