More Round-the-World: Tokyo

My job certainly lets me work on interesting things, but also as part of being on a globally distributed team I get to visit a lot of places too - most recently was a visit to the Google office in Tokyo to catch up with some engineers over there; and while not part of my earlier trip around the globe, I figure it's best to keep this Round-the-World series of city summaries going for as long as I'm able to travel to them!
Firstly, Tokyo is certainly a Megaopolis (well, part of one); and of the previously mentioned cities, I'd place it between London and New York in terms of style and population density. That said, due to the size it covers, and the height of most of the buildings, it didn't feel quite as tighly packed as New York - certainly there were lots of smaller back areas where the roads weren't as busy, and plenty of parks / palaces to look at.

On the left is an example of one spot much closer to the Barcelona feel of quiet, small one-way streets, of which there were a number - I imagine not the worst spot to live if you had to be in the middle of such a large city. Parking is at a premium (not surprisingly),  and the personal car usage seemed much closer to e.g. London than New York - on the right is an example of how they managed to fit that many cars - there's a road (complete with carpark median strip), and two more roads stack vertically above it - certainly not something I'm used to seeing in Australia...
But enough of the city analysis - a had a productive week with the Tokyo folks, but once work was over I had organised myself two days of free time to look at all the sights around Tokyo. Above you can see a shot from Hibiya park, an amazingly picturesque nature area just south of the imperial palace in Chiyoda. At this time of year in particular it was a great mix of green, yellow and red on all the trees - as proven by the number of photographers standing around this pond!
The other day was spent walking around Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku, partially for the shopping/atmosphere, but also to visit the place that stuck out most from the one other time I'd visited - the Meiji shrine. It's a Shinto shrine plus related buildings opened in 1920 to honour Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken - and is essentially a fully open giant forest with around 200,000 trees, right in the middle of an otherwise busy area. I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting, it had the feel of an even more enclosed/private central park.
Overall, I think the language barrier is enough for me to not want to live in Tokyo (even if it's close to good ski slopes!) although visiting the smaller cities further out would be interesting, and Japanese architecture is certainly impressive - both what has been built, but also plans for what cities could look like in the future. Plus, I got the chance to walk around Tokyo R246, a street circuit that I've 'driven' around loads in Gran Turismo games, but might save for a later blog post. Instead, I leave you with recent attempts to art-up some pictures from my trip - the first from inside the Meiji shrine forest, the later of a parking area on my walk home from the office (click to enlarge)


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