When costal mega-cities run out of space, they inevitably turn toward the sea. An aerial view of Tokyo reveals a city stretched to its limits, coming to a congested stop at the waterfront. Geometrically precise islands appear, seemingly lowered into place like space panels. Among the exhibition pavilions, indoor shopping malls, game centres, cafes, restaurants, and surrealistic constructions of Odaiba Island, the visitor never fails to be intrigued by the structures on this landfill that seems to hail from the future rather than the past.
2. Senso-ji Temple
Rebuilt countless times since its founding in 628, Senso-ji is the oldest temple site in Tokyo and the capital’s spiritual epicentre. The current temple, dedicated to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, is a fireproof replica of an earlier version built in 1692. One of the liveliest spots in the city, its grounds attract throngs of visitors who come to pray inside its cavernous main hall with its opulent, golden altar and priceless collection of 18th- and 19th-century votive paintings. This religious sanctuary lies at the heart of a busy commercial and entertainment district. Here, the murmur of chanting sutras, flickering candles and clouds of incense co-exist with a lively trade in religious souvenirs, trinkets and traditional foods.
3. Yanaka Cemetery
One of Tokyo’s first public graveyards, Yanaka Cemetery is an elegiac yet awe-inspiring evocation of Tokyo’s past. Its consecrated grounds, interspersed with mossy tombstones, leafy walks, wrought-iron gates, time-worn lanterns and stone statuary, are almost Gothic in character. An oasis of calm frozen in time, Yanaka Cemetery is a far cry from Tokyo’s glittering metropolis. It is also the final resting place of the city’s luminaries, including literati, actors and statesman, as well as the notorious and the long-forgotten.