Today’s post won’t be about food or drink but instead I’ve written down my view on Tokyo’s aesthetics as a city. In some thoughts on life in Japan, I mentioned my initial feelings when going into the city from Haneda airport for the very first time. I was in shock as all I could see were industrial concrete buildings, rusty rail tracks, overly dominant elevated express ways, a myriad of overhead electric cables, tons of construction sites and not the slightest bit of green in sight. This was just the initial route into town though; the closer we got to the city centre the buildings’ appearances started to look less industrial and small parks and temples emerged. For me, however, it all still seemed chaotic and messy (in the sense that there was no consistent architectural style to be found). It was all just too urban to be considered beautiful. Finding the beauty in Tokyo does take some time.
It was the little details that made me warm up to the city and discover its beauty. After mainly walking and cycling through my neighbourhood during those first months, I kept on stumbling across small but thoughtfully arranged little gardens, traditional wooden houses wedged between modern apartment blocks, hidden neighbourhood temples and shrines as well as tucked away, ancient looking cemeteries.
During the first years in Tokyo, I used to spend a lot of time at various playgrounds, mainly in our ward. I was keen to discover all of them, mainly for a change of scenery. Many of the smaller playgrounds looked like they are dating back to the 60s or 70s. The equipment a little rusty and colours all faded. This could’ve been partly because of the extreme weather the play equipment was exposed to but some concrete slides and animal play structures looked so retro; they’d clearly withstood the test of time.
I love the toilet signage in the pictures above. Those can be found at one of the larger playgrounds which has mostly been updated with new equipment. Those signs are a good example of what gives Tokyo its special charm: the coexistence of old and new.