Tokyo’s train network is truly wonderful, with the option to easily travel all over the capital the gift that really does keep on giving. Actually using the network, on the other hand, is often utterly awful, as overcrowding can make commutes more akin to a melee.
Recently, of course, that has all changed, at least from personal experience it has anyway, as after years of taking almost daily train trips, it has now been none in two and a half months. However, with Japan’s state of emergency now lifted, that will likely change very soon, but whenever that first journey is, I’m fairly sure I won’t be quite as excited as this little fella will be when he finally makes his.
When danchi (public housing complexes) began to appear in and around Tokyo during the mid-1950s, so did shopping areas designed to cater for the new residents. Some tower blocks had shops on the ground floor, whereas little areas of commerce naturally evolved near others. Public spaces that back in the day would have been bustling with local families, but changing shopping habits, as well as a massively altered demographic, have caused many of them to slowly fall into dereliction and disappear. A sad fate that the district below also seems destined for.
Presumably built in 1965 like the government housing buildings in the background, this concrete structure in the aptly named UFO Park was designed to celebrate unreal, and utterly unknown alien visitors.
Now, more than half a century later, it’s taped up and out of bounds because of an all too real, but sadly still not fully known invader.
Tokyo is an extraordinary city with a lot of similarly extraordinary people, yet on the whole it’s the rather more regular, day-to-day sights and scenarios that appeal the most. A factor that has definitely made the last two months of locally restricted walks and bike rides more bearable. Among other things, there has been an old housing complex to document, a wonderfully bleak park and the terribly sad discovery of an abandoned little bar.
On these almost daily excursions, I’ve also noticed the varied, and sometimes rather haphazard seating at local bus stops. Settings that are arguably much more mundane than merely ordinary, and yet for some inexplicable reason I find them appealing. Partly it’s the random chairs and the old school ads, but there’s also something else. Something I can’t really explain. A quietness perhaps, or maybe just their unfussy nature, but whatever it is, I do hope it’s not just me that feels it.