| Feb 2, 2007

Cabbages and kings

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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

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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, ...

A wave to Setagaya

| Nov 3, 2006

A wave to Setagaya

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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 years ...

Animal magic in the jungle of Setagaya

| Oct 6, 2006

Animal magic in the jungle of Setagaya

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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

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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

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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 a ...

Reach for the sky

| Jul 7, 2006

Reach for the sky

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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

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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

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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 flood ...

Getting animated in Suginami

| Apr 7, 2006

Getting animated in Suginami

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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 ...