A Geek in Japan | Tokyo
Adventures of a geek living in Japan
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Toranomon Hills

This past week I have been working for a couple of days at Toranomon Hills, the new tallest building in Tokyo (inaugurated one month ago) after surpassing Tokyo Midtown. Toranomon Hills is 255.5 meters / 838 feet tall and has been built by Mori, the same construction company that built Roppongi Hills.

Unlike Roppongi Hills, this new complex doesn’t have a shopping area or a movie theater. It only has offices, several residential floors, two floors for conferences, many restaurants and a small area with a garden. The mascot of the building is called Toranomon (トラのもん) and was designed by the production staff of Doraemon.

Can you spot the Toranomon mascot in the following photos?

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Official website of Toranomon Hills

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Walking Around Residential Areas – Setagaya

One of the tips that I usually give people that come to Japan for the first time is to “not to worry” too much and wander around without a clear destination in mind. One of the things that I enjoy the most about living in Tokyo is to get lost with my camera in residential areas. The residential areas don’t have anything special like tourist attractions do, but that’s why I find them so cool and charming.

These are some of the photos that I took around Setagaya in Tokyo. I’m not saying that you should go to Setagaya, any residential neighborhood in any Japanese city has a similar spirit: small houses that look like they have been taken out of a Doraemon or Shinchan episode, low-rise buildings, narrow streets where almost no cars pass, a lot of green areas, stressed out people going to the supermarket riding a bicycle…
Explore and get lost in any neighborhood near your hotel when you come to Japan! :)

Trivia: Setagaya-ku is the second largest district in Tokyo after Ota-ku and was the neighbourhood chosen by Akira Kurosawa to “retire”.

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

setagaya

More photos of my walks around Tokyo in my Flickr and in my Instagram

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Walking Around Kameido

Kameido is a neighborhood in east Tokyo (JR Sobu line from Akihabara to Chiba) which is not very touristy but it’s worth to take a stroll around its alleys. Nowadays the eastern part of Tokyo is the youngest and most lively part of the city (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, etc), however during the Edo era the areas west and south of the Imperial Palace were the busiest ones.

Even though Kameido, in east Tokyo, was destroyed during the Second World War it still maintains certain aura of past times. Kameido is very popular for its gyoza and horumon ホルモン restaurants.

Kameido

Kameido
We had dinner in this yakitori restaurant where we had some delicious shiitake.

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido
A new thing about Kameido is that from many parts of it you can easily see the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

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Tokyo's Guitar Street

Ochanomizu is a must-see location for guitar lovers that come to Tokyo. Ochanomizu is a street plenty of shops, some of them occupying whole buildings, specialized in guitars and string instruments in general.

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo
Google Maps

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Jimbocho, the neighbourhood of the old books

I had been several times around Jimbocho, near Tokyo Station, but up until recently I hadn’t had the time to enjoy the famous streets where you can find plenty of second hand books. Last month, I could finally go there and snoop around the bookstores. I wasn’t expecting to find so many stores! There are dozens of stores full of books from decades and even centuries ago, manuscripts, scrolls, old magazines, ukiyo-e art, drafts of novels by famous authors (I saw drafts of Haruki Murakami novels!), developed photographs of famous photographers, etc. I ended up buying a couple of old maps from Tokyo (handwritten maps from 90 years ago), a Daido Moriyama photograph book and another one by Nobuyoshi Araki.

These are some of the photos that I took during my visit, using my new iPhone 4.

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

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Books about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tohoku

Since I have a Kindle I go less often to my favorite bookstore Kinokuniya, but I recently went there for a while to see the latest Japanese book releases. I found shelves and sections dedicated completely to books about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tohoku, whose consequences we are still living in Japan.

There are books that compile, explain, analyze and reflect on everything that has happened, others explain how to be prepared for a nuclear catastrophe, some others analyze what needs to be done from now on so that Japan can recover from the damage, other books are focused on the economy, others on how to reconstruct the most affected areas, etc.

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Here I leave you a talk that Hiroshi Ishii gave last month at TEDxTokyo in Miraikan

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Sakura blossomed!

The cherry trees (sakura) in Tokyo blossomed last week helping those of us here to continue with the diversity of our lives. This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people celebrated the arrival of spring under the flowers of sakura trees. If you are here, these are the best places to enjoy the event in Tokyo.

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. – Pablo Neruda

桜と大学生、Sakura & Schoolgirls

Sakura 桜

Sakura 桜

More 桜

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Ginkgos Avenue – Icho Namiki

“Icho Namiki” (銀杏並木) avenue is the main way to enter the Meiji Jingu Gaien gardens (not to be confused with the Meiji Jingu temple). “Icho” means Ginkgo and “Namiki” means “tree line”.

The yellow of the ginkgo leaves is fascinating during this time. It is one of the most visited places at the end of October and beginning of November. Don’t miss the chance to visit it if you are around during that time in Tokyo. The start of the avenue can be seen just outside “Aoyama 1-chome” station (Ginza or Hanzomon line).

The other day, my friend Xavier Verdaguer, came to visit Japan, and asked me: Why does it smell so bad when you are near the ginkgos? It turns out that the ginkgo fruits, called ginnan, fall on the street, are smashed by pedestrians and smell quite bad. The funny thing is that when they are grilled they smell very good and are delicious.

Gingko

Gingko avenue

Gingko avenue

Gingko

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Green Tokyo

One of the many things I love about Tokyo is the amount of green areas that you can find within a concrete jungle. Although Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world, there’s trees everywhere. The thing is that not only you can find plants and trees in parks but you can find them in almost any corner of the city. There are some areas where you can walk and forget for a moment that you are inside a city while thinking that you are in a small village in the mountains.

I put here a series of pictures taken in downtown Tokyo that show how green can appear in any “free” corner in the city.

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen

Green Tokyo

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Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Tokyo Summer

Tokyo Summer

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

Green Tokyo

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