Harboring dreams

| Feb 1, 2008

Harboring dreams

by Kit Nagamura

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

by Kit Nagamura

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

by Kit Nagamura

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

by Kit Nagamura

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

by Kit Nagamura

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 ...

Booking uphill in Bunkyo

| Sep 7, 2007

Booking uphill in Bunkyo

by Kit Nagamura

Walkers in Bunkyo Ward won’t get far before their legs let them know the place has hills — lots of them. A Bunkyo Civic Center official concurs: “We’ve named 113 slopes, but there are even more.” The Civic Center towers over Suidobashi like a ...

Home to the outsider

| Aug 3, 2007

Home to the outsider

by Kit Nagamura

Western Taito Ward is a paradise for nonconformists who stray off the beaten track. Throughout the incense-scented alleys of Yanaka, and across the parklands of Ueno, it’s hard to miss the area’s preponderance of “strays”; tourists, artists and the homeless who, with a surprising ...

A very red-light district

| Jul 6, 2007

A very red-light district

by Kit Nagamura

You won’t find many red lights larger than the enormous paper lantern at Taito Ward’s Sensoji, or Asakusa Kannon Temple. The Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate) lantern, named after the entrance from which it hangs, has to be steadied by guy wires, not simply for the ...

To infinity and beyond

| Jun 1, 2007

To infinity and beyond

by Kit Nagamura

At the southern end of Edogawa Ward, Kasai Rinkai Koen Seaside Park dips its toes in the Pacific Ocean. From there, it’s possible to see Tokyo Disney Resort across the water in Urayasu. Mickey’s place packs all its entertainments in one tidy mouse nest, ...

The sun shines in spiritland

| May 4, 2007

The sun shines in spiritland

by Kit Nagamura

Toshima Ward is rife with zombies and familiar spirits. In the wee hours near the stationopolis of Ikebukuro, pale-faced university students, partied-out salarymen and a host of others wander the streets until the first trains arrive. These are Toshima’s innocuous shades; there are others ...

Where mod confronts odd

| Apr 6, 2007

Where mod confronts odd

by Kit Nagamura

Several decades ago, commuters riding the Mekama Line into Meguro Station were tagged country bumpkins. Today, developers pack the ward with suburban homes as fast as they can pour cement. Old dwellings with gardens give way to duplexes with flowerpots, and chic furniture stores ...

Shinjuku's split personality

| Mar 2, 2007

Shinjuku's split personality

by Kit Nagamura

In Shinjuku, the first challenge is getting out of the station. Said to be the world’s busiest; traversed by approximately 3 million commuters a day, Shinjuku has been a Japan Railways stop since 1885. The Chuo, Keio and Odakyu train lines as well as ...