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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tokyo. A city of contrasts. Traditional cherry blossoms vs scifi-like architecture

As I was walking back from Waseda University this afternoon, I noticed that the river was filled up with more cherry blossom petals than yesterday.

Cherry blossoms covering the Kanda river

Look closely at the bottom right of the photo, did you see something? (You can click the photo view the large versions.)

There were tortoises! Amidst the pink river! And a, er, big bird.

Tortoises amidst the river of cherry blossoms

And heck, some parts of the river had turned totally pink.

River of pink

Instead of just crossing the bridge over the river like I did in the past two days, I decided to follow the line of cherry blossom trees, to walk along the river. I realized later that I was walking through the famed Edogawa Park. And many people were having their picnic under the trees.

People having picnic at Edogawa park

People picnicking at Edogawa Park

Edogawa Park is actually just a narrow path that stretches along the river, with a long line of cherry blossom trees lined up beside it.

Edogawa Park is beautiful!

More people walking through Edogawa Park

And as I reached the end of the park, I ended up near a subway station, which I took to Karakuen to get my 'alien card' done at the Bunkyo Civics center.

When I was at the center, I noticed that I was actually near Tokyo Dome. And I saw a nifty shopping mall called LAQUA, which has a cool-looking amusement park.

La Qua shopping mall

Roller-coaster in front of Laqua

As I walked past a flight of steps, I couldn't help but marvel at how scifi-ish this place is.

People walking towards Tokyo Dome

People were heading towards the Tokyo Dome, which was going to have a baseball match between the Tokyo Giants and that Osaka team.

Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome 2

I thought the dome itself looked pretty cyberpunkish too.

Returning to Edogawa Park at night, I was expecting a solitary walk through a quiet park before I reach my dorm. I was surprised to see the place packed with even more people having their picnic.

Edogawa Park at Night

Edogawa Park at Night 2

During my three days here, I kinda felt that the people of Tokyo were constantly rushing towards somewhere, either towards their work, or back from work, to a stationo out of a station. I remembered how uneasy I was when I made the same observation six years ago during my very last trip in Japan. I felt as if I were moving too slow compared to the others, and that somehow, the constant moving was disturbing, too lifeless, too robotic, too uniform, I don't know, but then, I was feverish then (six years ago, not now), thus I had weird ideas.

Nonetheless, watching the people at the park, Tokyo feels like a city of contrasts. As advanced as the city may look, in terms of its architecture, simple traditions like enjoying the view of cherry blossoms remain intact, unlikely to ever disappear in future generations. People always seem to rush from one place to another, yet here they are, large crowds of them, doing nothing but sitting on the ground, enjoying great food, sharing great drinks, while savouring the view of cherry blossoms.

Funny that they don't take such things for granted.