David Chart's Japan Diary

May 5th 2008

Yesterday, we went out for another day-trip walk. It's Golden Week at the moment, so today and tomorrow are both national holidays (today is Children's Day, yesterday was Vegetation Day, and the day before was Constitution Day; since Vegetation Day fell on a Sunday, tomorrow is an extra holiday), but this year we're not doing a long holiday. Instead, yesterday we went to a part of western Tokyo and met one of Yuriko's friends for a walk.

As I've mentioned before, the official borders of Tokyo include areas that do not look much at all like the stereotypical image of Tokyo. The area we went to yesterday, Musashino and Koganei, is in the transition area; "suburban Tokyo" would be a good description of it. Around the railway station it was quite built up, and it was easy to find a standard family restaurant where we could have lunch. Mayuki complained all the way through lunch, which is unusual these days, so we had to eat in relays, and take her out of the restaurant from time to time. She stopped complaining when I did take her out; maybe she was just bored.

Yuriko's friend joined us at the restaurant, and we set off, following the guidebook. The big advantage of guidebooks is that they will take you to places you would not find by yourself, and this walk was a good example. The very first section involved walking alongside the railway line, and then down a very narrow street, which we wouldn't have entered without some encouragement. Yuriko even asked whether I was sure it was the right route; it didn't look like it went anywhere.

Motomura Park Yuriko and her friend walking in the first park.

However, it soon proved to be right, as the street arrived in a park. Apparently, this park was created over an old railway line, which makes sense; it's long and thin, running between houses. It made for a very pleasant walking route, and Mayuki fell asleep almost as soon as we got there.

Green Road A view of the canal and its greenery.

The railway had run to the water treatment plant, so that's where the park came out. Fortunately, that also brought us to Tamagawa Upper Water Green Road. The Tamagawa Upper Water is, if I've understood this right, a canal created at the beginning of the Edo period (early seventeenth century) to bring drinking water to Edo, the new effective capital. (Edo is the old name for Tokyo.) At some point in the more recent past, it's been planted with a lot of trees and plants, to create a walking route alongside the the canal.

You can walk on either side of the river, and we swapped sides a couple of times as we went. Yuriko spent most of the time chatting with her friend, and Mayuki slept solidly.

Koganei Park Me and Mayuki in the park, with Azalea Mountain in the background. We just missed the season.

This route brought us to a park, Koganei Park. Koganei Park is one of the Tokyo Metropolitan parks, and it's really quite big. We didn't have time to see all of it, but it does look like a nice place, and, like the Showa Memorial Park, it's an hour or so from home, so it's another place we might visit in the future. There's an area of the park set aside for barbecues, and it was absolutely full of families enjoying the holidays. Mayuki had woken up as we arrived at the park, and she was very excited to see all the families, smiling, laughing, and shouting. I think we'll have to do some barbecues or picnics in the fairly near future.

Korekiyo Takahashi's House The house of a Japanese politician, who was assassinated in it in 1936. According to the explanatory sign, he "had a talent for economics". Certainly looks that way...

We basically walked through the park, because it also includes the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, which we all wanted to see before it closed. This is a collection of old buildings, mostly from the Tokyo region, rebuilt in the park; or, in one case, loaded onto a truck and brought to the park in one piece. Most of them are late nineteenth or twentieth century, in large part, I suspect, because Tokyo was largely destroyed twice in the twentieth century, first in the Great Kanto Earthquake, and then in the Second World War. I guess that there just isn't much left from earlier.

This did create a slight conflict, as I wanted to look at the more traditionally Japanese buildings, while Yuriko wanted to see the more western style ones. So, we split up, and went to look at the ones we were most interested in, before meeting up again as the place closed. They were interesting, and the recreation of an early-twentieth century Tokyo shopping street was striking. These days, when Japanese is written horizontally, it is written left to right, but before World War II it was written right to left; this caused me momentary confusion when looking at the shop signs. (I don't know why they changed, nor, indeed, whether right to left was universal earlier. I'm not even sure exactly when they changed.)

As it was getting to evening, we headed home from the museum. Yuriko really enjoyed the walk, and is now very keen to do more walks from the books. This is a good thing; we might get our full value out of them. I had a good time as well, although a full day of carrying Mayuki is still a little tiring. That might be part of the reason why I went back to bed and slept for four hours today...

Ice Yearning

The Ice Yearning experiment continues. So far, people seem to be interested, looking at the statistics for people visiting the page, but not a lot of people are actually putting any money in. I might have to look at broadening the advertising in the not-too-distant future, but it looks like it's making one decision for me: the next thing I write won't be a sequel, and will be distributed through a different method. It's not a failure yet, by any means, but it's also not an overwhelming success. Yet.