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One week in Tokyo

One week in Tokyo

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Avocado House, a name to remember, north side of Tokyo, near the station Todaimae, 4 young students and 2 (young) teachers welcome the travelers all the time, in a two floors house, in a narrow street, surrounded by flowers and potted citrus trees…

One feels at home, Japanese youngsters look really dynamic and have humour in the way of communicating.

Later…. it can sometimes, degenerate, in this huge megapole, the 30 millions inhabitants share workmanship above all, they live for work, earn more, and that shows in religion too, where most people choose to be shintoïste and bouddhist, to have more chances to get good fortune and be successful in every way. This determination has been the success of bouddhist sects until some people compromised themselves. Cult for goods,looks, consumption of all sorts, is just too much in this grey town, so clean, so quiet….my poor little town of Bègles seems like hell with its noisy traffic, compared to the monstrous Tokyo.

Tokyo also has a dark side, early morning, at 5 a.m., white collars get in the underground, seat half asleep, like a caterpillars’ track, no end of see, in all carriages. Outside, the mocking crows,only kind of bird living here, just caw “ah.. ah… ah ” to people.

While the dark men go to work, the wives sleep. After studies and marriage, most of them become housewives, they will go out a few hours later, to give this urban picture a little color, just like the students.

From the top of the government twin tours, the view at 360° shows that Tokyo has nothing really impressive, but, of course because of possible earthquakes, the buildings are rather low. Nevertheless, a few tall enormous buildings show up with original architecture.

What is stunning, is this tremendous lot of buildings, laying at the edge of the planet, since (as you know) it’s flat !

Down there, Shibuya, the fashion place, with the biggest pedestrian crossroad  in the world, millions of people going by, in a few minutes at peak hours. When it’s motorcars’ time, they are all in a peaceful order, with security distance. In Japan I never really noticed the traffic, no noise, no pollution, and very few cars. The pedestrian is a king.

Harajuku, north of Shibuya, is the “electric city”, with video arcades, useless gadgets to so call communicate better… paradise for cosplay and mangas, lights, nicely outraged, sweet madness. The park is rather interesting during the weekend, with rebel people of all kinds coming for exhibition and to have fun. From Rock a Billy, perfectos, shiny shoes and shiny hair, kind of nicer French’s singer “Dick Rivers” with hairdo, dancing all day long. Others play with giant hoola-hoops, all dressed up people make parades and weird choreographies, and we must not forget the African percussions!

Asakusa is an old place where to worship in its famous temple. There again an awful lot of people, around, souvenir shops and lovely restaurants. Here, we also have the most attractive buildings, shaped and maybe inspired by Dali’s world.

Shinjiku is the trade city, grey and cold, big buildings.

Roppongi is not so glorious, with a little mafioso side. I had the opportunity to work with a guy, the day before yesterday : “30 to 50 clothes to photograh” …..when i got there, it was over 120, and i had not reloaded the batteries. That guy was a “two left hands”…. so i dragged him to Avocado house, one hour in the tube, to finish the shooting in the night, on the car park. Night falls at 4.30 p.m. here !!!

He did not say a word, since he is Japanese, i did not say a word because i was with a Japanese, but that guy made me loose 2 days. He payed me half the money the same day, asked me to send him the photos by internet. It took him 10 hours to open a zip file…..and change the meeting place at the last minute to give me the other half of my well earned money……tough luck !!!

Anyway, the days were short and this waste of time with a stupid job did not allow me to really make the most of Tokyo,  my priority as a photographer. The only rainy day was monday and I attempted to visit the museum, and  it was …. closing day ! “Ah Ah Ah” caw the crows .

The subway is very handy to use, but if one has the feeling of going fast, one is sometimes surprised to spend so much time in it, because changing trains means a lot of walking in the underground. There again if one remembers the side of Parisian life, here it’s clean, whithout the geeks, but with a lot of tramps, because Tokyo also shows its limits and the ideal Japan does have a lot of homeless, coming in the underground to spend the night in the closed stations.

All this did not really seduced me, far less than Osaka and especially Kyoto, where people want to communicate, are curious, open minded, nice. But, the main feeling is an icy kind of life style, careless, just a show, because the harsh discipline is the reality of a very different culture, nothing like ours, one must live here a very long time, to understand it.

It’s already 8p.m. and i must pack and yet get ready to go to Bangkok, tomorrow. The violent change of climate, heat and dampness will be welcome, not to forget the smiles and the hectic, polluted side of it, and my bag will be lighter of a few kilos.

Thanks to Martine for the translation.

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One week in Tokyo

par Stéphane Bidouze time to read: 6 min