Old and New Tokyo
One of the things that sets Tokyo apart from other major cities is the old and the new coexisting alongside each other. While we were in Tokyo last summer, the must-see attractions of temples, shrines and castles of Old Tokyo were side by side with the steel and glass skyscrapers of modern Tokyo. It was quite fascinating. These are just a few of the pictures showing traditional and modern Tokyo in structures and its people.
One of the apparent contrasts was the first attraction we visited. Coming out of the subway, we were greeted with some of Tokyo’s famous ultra-modern skyscrapers. A block down and across the the street was a moat and the stone walls of the Imperial Palace and the East Gardens. It was totally unexpected and a pleasant surprise.
The Imperial Palace East Gardens used to be part of Edo (old Tokyo) castle’s inner defense circle. Deep within the gardens is a quiet oasis surrounded by a concrete jungle. It was so serene here I almost forgot where we were if not for those buildings sticking out behind the trees. Surprisingly, the trees acted like buffers from all the traffic noise beyond the walls.
This was one of several guardhouses that still remained from the Edo period. They housed samurai guardsmen who watched the castle gates of the Edo castle grounds.
Remnants of the foundation of the old castle tower that looked out into an expansive lawn was here too with sweeping views of one of Tokyo’s business district.
The imposing Tokyo Skytree, as it stood out in the city’s skyline, was definitely hard to miss. It was interesting to see the plastic figure of a Japanese man dressed in his traditional costume hanging from the side of the building along with a traditional painting on the wall beside him.
The Tokyo Skytree is an observation and broadcasting tower at 2080 feet(634 m) and is scheduled to open in May 2012. It will be one of the tallest structures in the world. The futuristic looking tower looms in the background of the historic Sensoji temple and its structures.
The Zojoji temples with Tokyo Tower in the background presented some great contrasting pictures between old and new Tokyo. This is the tallest self-supporting steel tower in the world and is used for broadcasting . My kids dubbed it the “orange Eiffel Tower“. It also functions as an observation deck at 1091 feet (333 m) – about 30 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower.
The two story, red main gate marking the entrance to the Zojoji Buddhist temples still stands among the modern skyscrapers surrounding it.
I found the Japanese dressed in their traditional attire walking the streets captivating. Walking through the historic Asakusa district on a Saturday afternoon, we found many of the ladies and children in a parade of colorful kimonos and their geta (footwear) for visits to the nearby Sensoji temple – Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. It was a joy to see them among the crowds there.
We came across a few wedding parties taking pictures around the Meiji Jingu shrine too. This was a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan’s ancient and original religion. We saw this wedding procession where the main wedding participants were dressed in beautiful, traditional attire but found a few of the men in the party dressed in modern tuxedos with coattails.
I loved this shot of the mom in modern clothes with her daughter in the traditional kimono walking through the Meiji shrine – both beautiful and perfectly dressed.
Even in the neon lights of the busy Shinjuku district and amidst the multi-storied department stores, we found small, traditional restaurants and shops wedged between modern office buildings.
Have you experienced old and new Tokyo? Have you been to other cities where the old and new coexist?