Solitude is where you find it

| Sep 28, 2013

Solitude is where you find it

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Under cartoon-blue skies washed by early-autumn typhoons, I stand at Sendaizaka-ue (summit of Sendaizaka Slope) in Tokyo's Minato Ward. Sendaizaka was named for daimyo lords from Edo Period (1603-1867) Sendai, now in Miyagi Prefecture, who maintained a yashiki (suburban home) on the slope that ...

Log-jamming in Shin Kiba

| Jul 27, 2013

Log-jamming in Shin Kiba

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Last month, readers of this column found me frolicking in the sawdust and lumberyards of Shin Kiba — meaning "New Wood Place" — which arose on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay in the 1970s when the city's timber businesses were moved there from their ...

Spring training in Mukojima

| Feb 24, 2013

Spring training in Mukojima

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It's hard to think of February as springlike, what with snowfalls, freezing winds and a dusting of dead leaves everywhere. But I know from experience that the intrepid Prunus mume, or plum tree, blooms this month, and a trek to see some blossoms seems ...

The fall fires of Nishigahara

| Nov 25, 2012

The fall fires of Nishigahara

Burning to see fall colors, I head to Tokyo's northern Kita Ward, where Kyu Furukawa Teien, the former estate of copper magnate Ichibei Furukawa, features not only a traditional Japanese garden but also Western-style flowerbeds of autumn-blooming roses. At this time of the season, ...

Over the top ambitions in Mukogaoka

| Jun 24, 2012

Over the top ambitions in Mukogaoka

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The neighborhood of Mukogaoka — literally, "Yonder Hill" — huddles under clouds clustered like violet hydrangea blossoms the morning I arrive to explore. From Hon-Komagome Station on the Nanboku subway line, I head east with a cautious eye skyward through a rust belt of shuttered ...