(The first appearance of this post was on iaponia.gr)
The area around the subway station of Azabu-Juban brings together two of the faces of Tokyo past: futurism and shitamachi.
In 1971 Andrei Tarkovsky shot the science fiction classic “Solaris”. In an evocative sequence the hero is driven through the streets of a city before he leaves for his trip to space, and a discreet feel of futuristic life is achieved. The sequence is called “City of the future” and was shot in Tokyo with no special effects.
One of the filming locations was the junction at Azabu-Juban.
Of course today it’s not only the bridge but also the buildings from somewhere around the ‘70s.
At the same time, all you have to do to find one of the once omnipresent streams is to take a turn a couple of blocks further away…
…and, in doing so, pass the invisible border towards a tiny shitamachi neighborhood.
Shitamachi was the downtown aesthetic in the beginning of the 20th century, the sort of passage from Edo to Tokyo.
The archipelago of the “city of the future” still has islets of small streets with wooden buildings, flower pots on tarmac and residents that somehow look as if they always belong there.
Anyone trying to understand the picture formed by the puzzle called Tokyo will get a few additional pieces by making a stop at Azabu-Juban.
Instances of early-20th century japanese architecture, Taipei downtown.
Looking back to a previous spring, fragments in memory from arriving to Taipei. And waking to a calm Saturday morning in the area around Songshan Station.
That was a pleasant building, especially to a traveller looking for space to breath. However the architecture in the surrounding blocks varies.
All of it typical Taipei though.
The interior cannot be told from the facade; some of these flats will be renovated new-asian-all-pearly style and some will be basic and maybe with bug issues.
What doesn’t change throughout is the energy in all times of day and places, even empty streets. Or temple backyards getting ready for the day.
And impeccable alleys that become a maze of people, shouts, money and food a few hours later (aka Raohe night market).
Plaza of the national science museum, a gem from the ’90s.
The inner story of Athens.
Complete with official and unofficial meeting rooms…
… Cheesy decals.
Two years ago these days … this traveller was in the middle of her only massive cultural shock ever.
Landed on Tokyo to spend two months and overwhelmed by the amount and totality of design, beauty and purpose everywhere around; within a week I lost weight, got a bunch of white hair and wasn’t sleeping well; it took me days to simply start catching the subway and go sightseeing.
Don’t get this wrong: the feeling was ecstasy. The whole time. Continuously. I was under constant bombardment by high standards.
A few photos of the mind-blowing flat and view. It was warm and fuzzy, it had a bathroom unit and a kitchen unit, and the elevated metropolitan express highway was passing only a few meters from the third-floor balcony. (At nights I was feeling that some mythical golden river kept streaming by.)
Streams and beers at the heart of Leiden.
I remember a spring noon pondering about things big and small at Xiangde temple, perched in Taroko gorge…