Tokyo on Foot (Part 2) – 漫步东京

I have an absolutely incorrigible sense of direction.

我是个不折不扣的路痴。

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Yet, that very lack of directional sense has brought me countless of surprises and it’s something which I now see as a blessing in disguise. Wandering around the Marunouchi district near my hotel, I bumped into the graceful Marunouchi gate of Tokyo Station in the twilight, and was greeted by the silhouettes of some of the tallest buildings in Tokyo.

旅行,不一定要随着行程走,也未必须要在所有清单选项旁边打勾。虽然我会在旅行前做好功课,列出几个想去的景点,但往往人算不如天算,总是会跟计划有很大的出入。再加上,我又是个爱瞎晃的人,这边瞧瞧,那边看看,一不小心就自己跟自己走散了。但我很会安慰自己 -反正不管怎么走,都是去没去过的地方,根本没有所谓的“迷路”嘛。

这不,走着走着,就误打误撞地欣赏到了东京的金融区的黄昏美景。

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Being Tokyo’s financial district, Marunouchi is home of the largest banks in Japan, as well as the Mitsubishi empire.

丸之内(丸の内,Marunouchi)是日本最有名的商业区,也是三菱集团的总部所在。夜晚的丸之内十分清静,现代化的高楼与历史悠久的东京站楼相互辉映,对比强烈却不显唐突。

The royal evening gown of Tokyo Station 东京站的优雅晚装

The royal evening gown of Tokyo Station
东京站的优雅晚装

Fashioned after the Renaissance-styled construction, the red-bricked facade of the Tokyo Station shows certain resemblance to European architecture.

许多人说东京站的主楼与阿姆斯特丹中央车站有几分神似, 主要是因为它是以文艺复兴式的赤炼瓦做为基础的红砖建筑。

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The interior look of the Marunouchi exit.

Depicted here is human traffic that’s considered very mild. The Marunouchi area is well-known for its distinctive contrast between daytime and nighttime traffic. Expect a scene where one would be drowned by the massive crowd of “moving suitcases” during the morning peak hours!

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I discovered that Hydrangea is one of the most well-loved flowers among the Japanese. Well, who wouldn’t be moved by these colourful bundle of fairies? Hydrangea is not only native to Japan, but is also one of the first few flora species introduced to Europe, by German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold.

美丽的绣球花是许多日本人的最爱,我在好多花店内都发现了这些可爱的花仙子的踪影。而且最近才发现,原来绣球花的原产地是日本!它也是最早被德国植物学家菲利普 弗兰兹引进到欧洲的日本花卉之一。

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Switching gear. Let’s move from the CBD Marunouchi to the “Times Square of Tokyo” – Ginza.

要介绍东京夜景,怎能少了被称为 “东京的时报广场” 的银座?

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Ginza, it turns out, wasn’t as chaotic as my impression of the New York Times Square. Albeit the skies above are both lit up by the countless billboards and florescent lights, the former is a much less bustling with activity as compared to the latter. One of the main reasons is that most of the shopping malls at Ginza close around 8:30 pm – what a downer! While Times Square is only in its truest form with its deafening pop music, commercials and screaming crowds, you could experience almost none of those at Ginza.

Surprising? Not after my 1-week of stay in Tokyo.

You wouldn’t find it surprising either to know that this is a country where speaking on the phone is prohibited in most of the public areas such as trains and restaurants. It is considered impolite and inconsiderate to speak for too long on a cell phone in public.

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比起纽约的时报广场,东京的银座算是小巫见大巫。虽然同样灯火通明,但大部分的商店在晚上八点半前就打烊了,因此人潮与交通也不算拥挤。少了年轻人的不羁,少了流行音乐的冲击,少了熙攘人群的足迹,我眼里的银座像个曼妙的贵妇,而时报广场则像个亢奋的青春代言人。

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I’ve never been to anywhere else with such an expensive taxi service . A 25km trip from Haneda Airport to Harajuku could easily cost you USD 80, I would call this civilized daylight robbery!  I have to admit though, that the service standard is impeccable. Most of the taxis would be equipped with GPS and credit card payment machines, the one which I got onto even had a detailed Tokyo directory! The driver not only brought me to the destination, but also took the trouble of getting down his car and communicated with the apartment’s security guard to ensure that I was in safe hands!

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This photo was taken along a busy pedestrian walkway in Marunouchi. During my 4 days of commuting between the hotel and office buildings, I spotted the same few refrigerator boxes outside the JR Expressway bus ticketing centre and concluded that these must be homes for the underprivileged. Some of them “protect” their cardboard houses during the daytime by covering and tying them together with the rest of their modular and mobile “furniture”.

The jaw-dropping indifference shown by the smartly dressed corporate passersby and the police patrol within a 10-meter radius made me wonder what lies underneath the surface of such a polite and considerate society…

在川流不息的行人街道上,发现了好几个流浪汉的纸皮住所。这个与繁华市中心格格不入的心酸景象让我对这个外表鲜丽的文明城市有了另一层的了解。不管城市规划再怎么慎密,社会福利再怎么优越,经济发展再怎么强大,人文修养再怎么优秀,任何国家任何社区都会存在其不足甚至丑恶之处。

也许是习惯了流浪汉们的存在,也许是认可了社会的不公平,也许是漠视了贫富的差距,共使同一条街道身穿西装领带的上班族们毫不眨眼地匆匆从这些纸皮住所走过,连头也不转一下。而且,我发现仅10米之遥,竟是一间警亭!在附近巡逻的警察也视若无睹地从他们身边走过。这样的漠然令我咂舌。也许是我对日本社会现象的不了解,也许是我太草率地下定论,但我始终觉得这样的一幕不应该属于这个以文明而著的城市。

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Tokyo is also infamously known as the “most beautiful of ugly cities”. Based on my short tours around the city (see previous entries #1 & #2 & #3), I could testify that in my own way.

Its concoction of high-tech living and old fashioned manners, its suffocating crowdedness mixed with an occasional out-of-place serenity, its swanky skyscrapers nested amongst the many bizarre-looking skinny apartment buildings; and its flamboyantly dressed lolitas walking opposite a sidewalk full of corporate clones dressed in the safest-looking suits with identical suitcases… somehow, I’ve fallen in love with this pretty ugly city and its oxymora.

短暂的东京之旅让我见识到了这座“最美丽的丑陋城市”的个性所在。东京处处都是强烈的对比:先进的科技与传统的社会礼仪,拥挤的街道与世外桃源般的神社,标新立异的年轻人与十年后马上变成克隆上班族的自己,无懈可击的待人处事态度与极端甚至病态的社会现象,等等等等,都安然和谐地共存与这个神奇的大都市。正是它的不完美与矛盾,让我觉得这是一个令我想要再三了解的城市。在不久的将来,我应该还会再回来。

Stay tune for next entry on food: おいしい Tokyo!

下一期:美味东京!

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  1. Pingback: What did I do when I first crossed that quarter of a century? | Travelgraphy

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