I have an absolutely incorrigible sense of direction.
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.
Being Tokyo’s financial district, Marunouchi is home of the largest banks in Japan, as well as the Mitsubishi empire.
Fashioned after the Renaissance-styled construction, the red-bricked facade of the Tokyo Station shows certain resemblance to European architecture.
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!
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.
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？
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.
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！
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…
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.
Stay tune for next entry on food: おいしい Tokyo!