| Feb 2, 2007

Cabbages and kings

by Kit Nagamura

Those who live and work in Itabashi are hesitant when it comes to tallying up the highlights of this northwestern Tokyo ward. “There’s really nothing remarkable here,” says ballerina and homemaker Chieko Muraoka, 37. “It’s quiet and small-scale, but we like it that way.” ...

Chiyoda's good circulation

| Jan 5, 2007

Chiyoda's good circulation

by Kit Nagamura

Many consider Chiyoda the heart of Tokyo, and no wonder. The ward pumps lifeblood in and out with circadian regularity. During working hours, Chiyoda’s population swells to an estimated 850,000 people who pulse through the business arteries of Yurakucho, Marunouchi, and Akihabara. By midnight, ...

Katsushika a cut above all your expectations

| Dec 1, 2006

Katsushika a cut above all your expectations

by Kit Nagamura

Many of Tokyo’s award-winning swordsmiths choose to live in Ka-tsushika. Why? “Land has always been cheap here,” said Shoji Yoshihara, 61, designated an Important Living Cultural Property of the ward and deputy head of All Japan Swordsmiths Association. “The process of making swords is ...

A wave to Setagaya

| Nov 3, 2006

A wave to Setagaya

by Kit Nagamura

Home to approximately one tenth of the total citizenry of all of Tokyo’s 23 wards, Setagaya houses 800,000 people, the same figure as the population for the entire island of Oahu, Hawaii. At both places, people seem to have come in waves. Thirty thousand ...

Animal magic in the jungle of Setagaya

| Oct 6, 2006

Animal magic in the jungle of Setagaya

by Kit Nagamura

Taxi drivers claim that, unless you’ve lived there all your life, Setagaya is nearly impossible to navigate. Major thoroughfares pulse straight across the second largest of Tokyo’s 23 wards, but off the highway a maze of tapering, winding one-way alleys will often as not ...

Slow train coming downtown

| Sep 1, 2006

Slow train coming downtown

by Kit Nagamura

Arakawa Ward snuggles like a puzzle piece in the bends of the Sumida River. The third smallest of Tokyo’s 23 wards, it has an intimate, unpretentious atmosphere that matches the attitude of many of its residents. Asked what makes Arakawa special, locals and even ...

Shibuya's got glamour, and more

| Aug 4, 2006

Shibuya's got glamour, and more

by Kit Nagamura

Anyone with more than a week in Tokyo has spent some time with Shibuya’s mascot, Hachiko, waiting and watching thousands of individuals merge on cue into a tsunami of mass determination and consumerism, a scramble of humanity. Life’s big questions can surface at such ...

Reach for the sky

| Jul 7, 2006

Reach for the sky

by Kit Nagamura

Sumida Ward spans an area that has endured ruinous fires, floods, plagues, and seismic as well as economic jostlings. Residents of this battered part of the city nonetheless have always kept their pride buoyant and their spirits aloft. Even when the chips are down, ...

The hidden charms of Nerima

| Jun 2, 2006

The hidden charms of Nerima

by Kit Nagamura

Do you have daikon ashi (giant-radish legs)? Let’s hope not, as the Japanese metaphor usually applies to fat, lard-white and water-laden gams. If the daikon in question is from Nerima, however, it’s no insult, as the northwestern ward’s famous daikon is a long, slender ...

Unlocking the secrets of Kita

| May 5, 2006

Unlocking the secrets of Kita

by Kit Nagamura

To keep Tokyo high and dry, management of local river and water resources has been always been a key concern, and to this key, Kita Ward holds the locks. Sluice-gate locks, that is. Residents of the Kita area once built mizuya (homesteads perched on ...

Getting animated in Suginami

| Apr 7, 2006

Getting animated in Suginami

by Kit Nagamura

Suginami Ward may be known as a bed town, but the residents are restless. Butting up against Musashino and Mitaka cities and sharing a “west wing” location with Setagaya Ward to the south and Nerima Ward to the north, what appears to be a ...

Water, water . . . almost everywhere

| Mar 3, 2006

Water, water . . . almost everywhere

by Kit Nagamura

Squeezed between the Sumida and Arakawa rivers, sliced with canals, and facing Tokyo Bay, Koto Ward is sometimes known as the “Venice of Tokyo.” While the comparison is a considerable stretch — many of the canals have been filled in or obscured by buildings ...