A narrow green alley

Narrow green alley, Honcho, Nakano

What makes Tokyo residential districts very charming and perhaps surprising for foreigners are the narrow pedestrian walkways and small streets where pedestrians and bicyclists outnumber cars.

There’s something pre-modern and non-rational about the web of small Tokyo lanes, with unpredictable turns and numerous dead ends. The densely packed two and three story buildings almost touch, with a mix of small apartments and single family houses. Neither walkways nor small streets are named, there is no grid, and small gardens and small shops are the only way to remember your path the next time.

The foliage is a mix of cultivated plants and “volunteers.” With rainfall plentiful year-round, it is easy to imagine the city reverting to jungle. If only there was less concrete.

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