I often find myself biking under this intersection, outside Opera City in Hatsudai. The surface roads are wide and congested, and there’s also a newish underground expressway. This is a major corner not designed for bicyclists or pedestrians.
DId you know that Oshima island, off the coast of Izu, is part of Shinagawa ward? From the pier near Hamamatsucho, it’s an eight hour overnight ride on a slow and rather large boat. I recently went with Paper Sky’s Bicycle Club.
Highlights included watching the sun rise at black lava rock “desert” atop the volcano, fun and fashionable cyclists in their twenties, thirties, and forties, the slow over-night boat ride, two onsens, a small port made from a volcanic crater. We saw the end of the camellia season, the blooming of Oshima cherry trees, and ate ashitaba leaf vegetable. Dai dai cocktails cmobined local citrus with booze.
I am now even more impressed with Paper Sky, which is a travel magazine and also the hub of mountain climbing, food, book, and bicycle clubs. My fellow travelers were an interesting mix of bicycle sellers, magazine editors, serious and hobby cyclists, photographers, and creative types. I was surprised that the rental bikes were all Bruno bikes, which have small tires, great colors, and are excellent for city biking and mid-range touring.
With its real world events and groups, Paper Sky’s publisher, Knee High Media, is clearly thinking about a new type of publishing beyond paper, the web, and smart phones.
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.