Tokyo is an enormous place, a huge city that hours to traverse and that would take weeks to explore in its entirety. It’s cool, and it’s diverse, not culturally, it’s all Japanese, but with distinctive areas of the city manifesting and delivering the culture in different ways.
I was based in Taito, a district that includes Asakusa, Asakusa has some cracking shrines and temples, some excellent shopping and dining opportunities, providing a great mix of facilities for locals and interest for the visitor.
Clear across Taito district from Asakusa is Ueno, I find the few short subway stops preferable to the hour or so of urban walking otherwise required to get there.
Ueno is quite busy with a marketplace tucked under the railway arches and a distinctive city feel, much different to the low rise Tokyo suburb around my hotel, where there was no such hustle, it is quiet. I never expected to find an area this quiet in a city this full, the preconception I had of Tokyo was hustle and bustle all the time, everywhere.
There are some small pockets of green dotted around Taito, but mostly there are alleys and lanes rather than big roads. Near the river the roads get larger as do the green spaces, with the Sakura yet to bloom, I’ll have to settle for the few seldom blooms and the occasional plum tree splendid with their clunkier bright pink flowers. The huge Ueno park offers some of the best Sakura blooms in Tokyo, sadly I can only imagine how spectacular it will be when the Sakura bloom completely. I know it was optimistic to visit the park with the hope of seeing some Sakura, sadly it’s too cold, I’m not the only one, it’s packed with people, not packed with flowers. A few trees have bolted early, showing off amongst the beautiful temples and shrines that litter the park, yet it’s not the full exposure all the visitors hoped for, dozens of trees around the district are covered with distinctive pink buds on their branches, showing an evocative pink hue of the bloom to come.