I cleaned my bike with magical pink solution on new year’s eve, and Shu helped me attach the mini-shimekazari to the front. For the next week, this bit of rice, pine, paper, and berrry may give the gods some place to rest as I bike to the late night sento.
Tokyo looks more magical at night. Walking across the Sumida River after seeing a sumo tournament, we admired the retro modern view of the bridges, elevated freeways, railway tracks, and inky black river. Even Sky Tree, the latest addition to this skyline, projects a futuristic image that is oddly familiar.
The green neon marks the Kanda river’s last bridge before joining the Sumida river. This river starts at Inokashira park in Kichijoji, west of where we live and winds for 26 kilometers before joining the Sumida and flowing into Tokyo Bay. A few years ago, I co-wrote an article about the Kanda river’s history and potential for new urbanism in Tokyo. You can download the 6 MB document in PDF form here.
At the bottom, you can see that there are still pleasure boats parked at the bottom of the Kanda for river dining and drinking. I’ve never been on these smaller boats.
Just before summer starts is one of my favorite seasons in Tokyo. This is the river in Nakameguro famous for its cherry trees. I already want to put my feet in the water.
On my third trip to Shibaura, I discovered that there is one canal that provides wonderful, up-close access to water. It’s the first canal when entering from the JR Yamanote station. There’s even paths below the bridges and just above the water. On a drizzly afternoon, it was magical to be below the roadway.
Most of Tokyo’s rivers are buried, and the few remaining ones, including much of the Kanda and Zenpukuji rivers, are channeled 10 meters below street level to manage flooding. Sometimes I hear ducks echoing in these canyons, but the distance between people and water is a missed opportunity.
At the Shibaura canal, I found a tiny canal opening that seems to do pre-date the more recent developments. I like the old stones at the entrance. All that’s missing from this canal is space to get your feet wet, or even go in for a swim.
I love this multi-petal and super-pink cherry tree growing outside my apartment building. At night, it is magical against the clouds and electric power lines. I like that the tree has been trimmed into a lollipop shape. The sight of the petals pooling up in the gutter is also strangely captivating: so pink and so transient.
Fortunately, once cherry trees have finished blooming, there is a burst of spring flowers: azalea, dogwood, lilac, iris, jasmine, and soon roses.
Walking through Takanawa, I stumbled upon this magical temple entrance with a long winding path. Buddhist and Shinto temples are often the only dedicated land uses that escape the endless cycle of destruction and over-building that is so common in Tokyo. Few small temple gardens are this beautiful.
After passing these wooden guards, I saw only a stray cat. Not a single visitor or monk.
This is the path that invites one to find the temple.
Although a small total space, many angles make you feel that you have entered a splendidly edited jungle. I love the cloth apron on this statue.