When you are sitting on a splendid mid-November day outside to have lunch in a cafe surrounded by trees, sporting a sign saying “Erdinger Weissbräu”, while not far away you can see modern office towers and for the third time in a row, “White Christmas” is being played from the stereo, you know you must be in Tokyo. Christmas started here the moment the Halloween decorations were packed away. The above scene took place in Hibiya Park which is located in Central Tokyo, not far from Tokyo Station, Tokyo’s biggest intercity rail terminal.
Central Tokyo contains great contrast – the area of the Imperial Palace, including the beautiful East Gardens, and just adjacent, modern office towers. The East Gardens are another one of these islands of calm and beauty without which Tokyo would be simply unbearable.
Large and calm, they gardens contain small artificial woods, ponds and big lawns. As usual, “nature” is arranged to perfection inside. When you enter, you leave the noise of the busy streets behind. The day was so bright and warm that we even sunned ourselves for a bit on the big lawn.
The area adjacent to the East of the palace area, which one can’t enter, is a wide open space. As opposed to the rest of crowded Tokyo, space is squandered away here, probably a display of the power of the Tenno. The modern Central Tokyo on the other side of the empty gap is quite a sight.
Here, one looks towards Ginza, the streets have a very well-groomed look and are lined by expensive designer boutiques. It feels a bit like Manhattan around Wall Street, “only better”.
Close by, the modern building complex of the Tokyo International Forum (designed by Rafael Viñoly and completed in 1996) is located, containing exhibition and conference rooms as well as a concert hall. Its ship shaped glass and steel main building is well worth a look. In the basement, some sort of trade fair was going on. We felt a bit strange in the middle of all the bustle of salary men in suits running around. Clearly, this place is meant for work and not for sightseeing.