As I took a walk on a Tuesday morning in the north-east side of Tokyo (the area of Asakusa), I was struck by how empty the streets were in such a big and overpopulated city. Where were the residents of Tokyo? Where were they hiding on a busy week day? No cars. You could walk in the middle of the street. Sometimes, not often, one on two bicycles would urge you to step aside. Closer to noon, you could see kids in school uniform, carrying identical backpacks, hurrying back home for their lunch break. Little ones, trusted on their own.
Another particularity of the streets of Tokyo is that they have no names. According to A Geek in Japan (http://www.kirainet.com/english/index.php?s=streets): “In Japan, streets are simply an empty space in between blocks, they don’t have an identity. However you can identify buildings following a 3 digit system: the first one indicates the district, the second one the block and the third one the building or house inside the block. It is a completely different, but perfectly valid, system of structuring and organizing cities. You have to change your whole mindset.”
Whether, the streets are empty of crowds or of names, they are beautiful. From the electric wires and cables that run over your head, to the very narrow streets between buildings that let pass a magical light, the colors, the diversity of things around you, new buildings intermingling with old houses, a countryside spirit in a huge city… the walk from Asakusa subway station to Ueno station is a delight and if you happen to go to Tokyo, take the time for a morning stroll.