Echoes of the footfalls of soldiers

| Dec 12, 2008

Echoes of the footfalls of soldiers

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I was looking for a pillbox pockmarked with bullet holes in the Kudanminami district of Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. That’s what an elderly friend told me I’d find in front of the area’s Kudan Kaikan hotel. He used the Russian loan-word “tochika” for pillbox and ...

The Parnassus of Surugadai

| Sep 5, 2008

The Parnassus of Surugadai

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Ochanomizu, the Tokyo neighborhood stretching from Yushima, Bunkyo Ward, to Kanda, Chiyoda Ward, gives good vibes. Jazz, rock and reggae spill from music stores and guitar shops lining Meiji-dori as it drops south toward Yasukuni-dori. Mid-slope is Meiji University’s Liberty Tower, where one drizzly ...

A grande dame on the waterfront

| Jun 6, 2008

A grande dame on the waterfront

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Urban planning can be a zero-sum game. A case in point is Yokohama. The city redeveloped the waterfront to create Minato Mirai (Port of the Future), where visitors shop in boutiques, revolve on a Ferris wheel and whoosh in one of the world’s fastest ...

High in the Mampei

| May 2, 2008

High in the Mampei

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In mid-April, Karuizawa is quiet but for the buzz of saws and taps of hammers readying shops for the tourist season. Many shops, few of which rise higher than two stories, remain shuttered until then, and the streetscape surprises after the lofty skylines of ...