Photo Barrage 6-Tokyo 東京の写真攻め

Currently: Waiting for a phone call and watching yet another cooking show on Japanese TV.

As promised, some pictures from around Tokyo. These were taken at various times this spring, but many of them were taken in the last month or so as I was scurrying around town seeing things that I wanted to see before leaving Japan because, well, you never know, right?

This one is of my old neighborhood in Yoyogi. You can see the NTT Docomo Building in the background, which is the third-tallest building in Tokyo and the tallest clock tower in the world. One of the things I really like about Tokyo is the massive number of narrow, crooked streets. Call it getting lost or exploring, regardless it makes for some fun wandering.

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A series of interesting looking buildings.

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This is an intersection near the Park Hyatt (the hotel from Lost in Translation) where there’s a few highway overpasses suspended above. The vast majority of highways in Tokyo proper are elevated so they have this kind of floating quality, and often times nearly wrap around corners of buildings when they make a turn.

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I took a long walk earlier in the month from Roppongi to Yoyogi, and took some pics of a few interesting buildings. This one was in the Nishi-Azabu area, I think.

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This one was in Aoyama.

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This is a pic of the Kanda River west of Shinjuku fairly close to my new neighborhood. Most ‘rivers’ are basically cement enclosures for water to run through. I still like the look of the resulting valley of buildings.

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Some pics from Cherry Blossom season- Cherry Blossom season is a few week period in the spring where the cherry trees explode in colorful glory, from a near-white to a reddish color depending on the tree. The Japanese use this to go out and throw picnic parties, calling it hanami (literally ‘flower viewing’), which is a lot of fun.  They also tend to see whether they can set a new record for the number of people sent to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, which isn’t quite as fun.

The first pic is from the entrance to Ueno Park on a rainy day.

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The rest of these are from Shinjuku Gyoen (Gardens), which differs from public parks like Ueno Park or Yoyogi Park in that you have to pay admission, and as the next picture shows, they kind of frown on people drinking in the gardens during Hanami.

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Note that I deliberately avoided the first weekend of partying because I don’t think nature and crowds mix very well. It was still pretty busy on a weekday afternoon. Lots of people sitting out on the lawn taking a break from work, I think.

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Shinjuku Gyoen with the Shinjuku skyline in the background.

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Next few pictures are of the west side of Shinjuku Station, which is the main skyscraper district of Tokyo. Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world- over 2 million people pass through there daily. The strange curved building at center right is known as Cocoon Tower, and it was built from start to finish in the 6 years since I left Tokyo.

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These are a few pictures of Meiji Jingu, one of the main Shinto Shrines. It’s where the spirit of Emperor Meiji is enshrined. He ruled during Japan’s modernizing era starting in the last 19th Century through the beginning of the 20th, where they eliminated the Shogun as well as the samurai class, and many people started wearing western clothes. Meiji Jingu is part of Yoyogi Park, and is easy walking distance from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku Station. It’s a nice place to walk through to get away from it all.

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I have occasion to pass by Tokyo Tower on a regular basis. With the opening of Tokyo Sky Tree, I think Tokyo Tower doesn’t get as much love, but it still makes me smile when I see it.

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I took a walk through the Chiyoda ward, which is where many of the government and bank buildings are located — with the Tokyo Metro Building being a notable exception. The following is a picture of the National Diet Building, where the Japanese Parliament meets. It’s the equivalent of the US Congress. I had a surprisingly hard time getting a clear picture of the building, between all the trees, surrounding buildings, and wall around the building. I’m sure I could have gotten a tour at some point and get some good pictures, but oh well. I practically had to stand in the middle of the street to get this one.

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The following are pictures of the Imperial Palace and surrounding buildings. Many of the taller buildings just outside the Palace are bank buildings.

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This is Sakuradamon, or Sakura Field Gate, one of the gates into the Palace.

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This is a picture of Tokyo Station, which is almost 100 years old. I had passed through this station maybe a half-dozen times to change trains since this is the terminus for all shinkansen (bullet trains) coming into Tokyo from anywhere in Japan, but I’d never seen the outside before. They are currently turning this part of the building into a hotel, to be opened for its 100th anniversary in 2014.

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A banana vending machine.

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This is a restaurant in my old neighborhood. Kinda old school Japanese decor.

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I ordered zaru soba, which is my new favorite Japanese dish. It’s a cold soba, which are buckwheat noodles, served with shredded nori (seaweed) and a dipping sauce that you throw some green onions and wasabi into. A very straight forward meal, but it’s quite tasty and fantastic on a hot summer day.

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Some pictures from the Sanno Festival/Parade, which is one of the main Shinto festivals in Tokyo. They tour most of inner Tokyo, but these pictures were taken in the Ginza district, which led to a pretty crowded dynamic with all the cars passing and a bunch of fellow shutterbugs snapping away.

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This group of pictures are the Asakusa area of Tokyo. I went up to Senso-ji (a Buddhist temple) again — see pics from Photo Barrage the first for an interesting comparison. These pics were taken at about 6.30am on a rainy Saturday morning.

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Tokyo Sky Tree under cloud cover:

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Empty Thunder Gate:

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This is the shopping street approaching the Temple that was absolutely mobbed when I was here last.

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The shop doors had interesting scenes of old Japan painted on them.

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I got a companion shot of the ‘Welcome To Japan’ shot from the airport on my way out this last time, too:

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I spent part of my time in the states when I wasn’t panicking over visa stuff with some of my family at a beach house near Tampa. A few pics of my view:

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I’m planning on hitting Yokohama soon, so that’ll probably be the next Photo Barrage. Questions or requests are welcomed.