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I can recommend Sundays as "strolling" days in Tokyo, when central thoroughfares are set aside for pedestrians, it is truly a feast for all the senses. Here are some suggestions:
Tokyo was probably just a sleepy old little village - originally known as Edo meaning "river estuary" - in the middle of some marshland on this broad Kanto plain until the end of the 1500s, when Tokugawa Ieyasu (founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shoganate) moved here and made it his centre in the vast domain that he controlled.
When he became shogun in 1603, Edo was turned into the seat of national government. Its castle was the largest in the world.
Edo rapidly expanded to accommodate Leyasu's 80 thousand retainers and families and the myriad of common people who served their daily needs. By the late 1780s the population had grown to nearly 1.4million.
The ruling elite lived the Yamanote (or "bluffs") which is on the high ground, to the west and south of the location of the castle. These tradesfolk, artisans, and providers of entertainment (reputable and not so reputable) lived in what could be termed-"downtown" on the marshlands which was reclaimed from the river in the North and East, in Tehari still known as Shitamachi.
As these two populations interacted, a unique new culture was born. Edo became the centre of power and also the centre of all that was vibrant and compelling in the arts in Japan at that time.
After 1868 that centre grew even stronger, when the The Tokugawa shogunate was overthrown by the movement known as the Meiji Restoration and the Imperial Court moved to Edo.
At this point in time the city was changed to Tokyo, which means "the Eastern Capital" in Japanese, to differentiate it from Kyoto (in the west) and then, from that moment on: all roads – political, cultural, and financial led here.
Tokyo has twice been almost totally destroyed in recent times: The earthquake of 1923 and then the subsequent fire layed waste nearly almost all remnants of the old city of Edo, and killing some 140 thousand of its inhabitants.
As it was rebuilt without any centralised plan as such Tokyo remains a city made up of many sub-cities and neighborhoods, which could be termed even "villages", each one has their own distinct look and feel.
Those used to the great capital cities of Europe and elsewhere there is no prevailing style of architecture here, certainly no civic core with old imperial victory or rememberance monuments for a new construction to harmonise or clash with.
Japan is slowly emerging from the tupor of the economic shock of '92 and the worldwide crisis of '08. Inflation is no longer negative.
Whole blocks of the city can disappear overnight, replaced in the blink of an eye by new gleaming office buildings, condos, cultural complexes, and shopping centres.
The one thing that is lacking in Tokyo is "time". Tokyo is a city full of creative and entrepreneurial energy, a lot of what goes into reinventing and developing itself. But notice: nobody “goes for a stroll” in Tokyo, and as a traveller you might find it hard to find someplace to sit down outdoors and the Edokko (people born and raised in Tokyo) go by.
The idea of a long, leisurely lunch is utterly alien. People in Tokyo are in hurry, they are not here to relax - they to want to get somewhere; maybe even if they don’t know precisely where they’re going 100% of the time.
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The park is remarkable chiefly for the National Yoyogi Sports Center, comprising two stadiums designed by architect Tange Kenzo.
The park itself was once a parade ground for the imperial Japanese army. After World War II it was taken over by the Occupation for military housing and nick named “Washington Heights,” then redeveloped as the Olympic Village site for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Game.
By the 1980s thanks to the broad avenues and new subway stops built for the games, this had become one of the coolest, liveliest, and place where the youngest trendiest people live, neighborhood in the city.
Street foods to try, body painting to see, the in your face-fashion, the photo opportunities; maybe on a warm spring afternoon Youyogi Park might be more fun than any other place in town!
Takeshita Street, Takeshita-dori, just across the railway bridge from Yoyogi park, continues this spirit of Avant-fashion with gangs like the cos-play-zuku, groups of mostly female youngsters in manga-inspired costumes and lemon and blue lipstick, turning the narrow street into a lively and impromptu catwalk of the new and bizarre.
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Do you know of anything else about the enviroment that makes you happy to come to Tokyo? If it's a city or neighbourhood are there any climatic, or microclimatic features that you could tell others about. If the location is a building or place, then can you describe it maybe as "sun-lit", or "cold in the mornings". We'd love you to contribute - why not let us know in the drop box below
Graphic showing average weather in Tokyo in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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