Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Rittou: Water begins to freeze/ sasanqua in bloom (1 of 5)

November 9th, 2008

rittou 1 of 15It’s the beginning of winter. Water is not beginning to freeze in Tokyo but the weather has certainly taken a sharp turn to the cold. The low pressure system over Japan has given us vast grey skies in the last few days and without the sun, Tokyo feels very icy.

We undertook a brief walking tour today: leaving Takadanobaba 3-chome, we walked along the border to Shimo-ochai, cut across Baba in parallel to the Meiji Dori, and came to Toyama Park (Ōkubo side). Reminiscent of Yoyogi Park, we saw various activities being practiced: dance, martial arts, and music (the tuba player and French horn player were competing for acoustic time). It also has its own resident homeless camp that is highly-organised and solidly-designed.

Ōkubo is served by two train stations: Ōkubo on the Sobu/ Chuō line and Shin-ōkubo (meaning New Ōkubo station) on the Yamanote line. Both of these train stations are actually in Hyakunin-chō (meaning Hundred men district), adjacent to Ōkubo’s east. Historically, this was where the Shogun, Tokugawa, stationed his one hundred men musketeer squad whose duty it was to guard the city’s gates and protect the shogunate. A large mural underneath the Sobu line illustrates this history (as well as Shin-ōkubo’s station stamp).

Today, it is mostly known for its Korean and Chinese population who happily offer up their cuisines to their new home. It is sometimes claimed that this the largest ‘Korean town’ in Kanto. When it is cold like today, the various forms of cook-it-yourself eateries are certainly enticing with their hot stoves and trays of tasty delights – ‘Korean Babecue’ is of course a big hit.

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