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 ...

Winging it in Ota Ward

| Dec 7, 2007

Winging it in Ota Ward

Ota Ward is totally fly. For starters, it hosts Haneda, the only airport actually situated in Tokyo’s 23 wards. Although a plane would come in handy in navigating this southernmost and largest of the city’s wards, you’d miss out on roasting wieners at Ota’s ...

Well-heeled in Chuo Ward

| Nov 2, 2007

Well-heeled in Chuo Ward

From the opulence of world-renown Ginza emporiums, to the glittering scales on the fish auctioned from slick palettes in Tsukiji market, Chuo Ward wheels and deals precious commodities. It’s a world of pearls and fatty tuna filets, bond trading and babes, crossings of culture ...

All at sea in Shinagawa

| Oct 5, 2007

All at sea in Shinagawa

In Edo Period Shinagawa, popular footwear included geta (traditional wooden sandals) perched on meter-high, box-frame stilts weighted down with large stones. A fashionista freakout? Not exactly. Turns out these uberplatforms, a pair of which are on display at the Shinagawa Historical Museum, were designed ...