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72 heures à Tokyo
Texte & photos Thierry Vincent - Tous droits réservés - All Rights Reserved
Tant pis, on prendra le métro. Direction Ueno Park ! Ueno Onshi Kōen, le "Parc Ueno, cadeau impérial" date de 1924 et a été construit sur un territoire donné à la ville par l'empereur Taishō. Au printemps le parc est très fréquenté par de nombreux locaux ainsi que par les touristes étrangers (comme moi) qui viennent admirer Sakura (comme moi), la floraison des cerisers du Japon. Durant cette période le parc est littéralement bondé et le week end ses plus larges allées accueillent de gigantesques pique-niques dont l'organisation est toute japonaise, c'est à dire parfaite.
Tokyo est une ville merveilleuse. Comme beaucoup je ne suis pas fan des bains de foule mais là ça ne compte pas tellement tout le monde se comporte poliment et est prèt à vous aider à la moindre solicitation (ce qui n'est peut-être pas toujours vrai mais là, en trois jours c'est l'impression que j'ai eu). La ville est superbe, que ce soit dans ses aspects les plus modernes comme dans les plus traditionnels. Il y a tant de choses à y voir, tant de choses à y faire, tout y est si différent et pourtant si facile d'accès... Que, oui, 72 heures c'était beaucoup trop court. Mais quelles 72 heures !!!
Japan - Episode 3
72 hours in Tokyo (English Version)
Text & Photos Thierry Vincent - All Rights Reserved - Tous droits réservés
And anyway, what can be so amazing about Tokyo? In fact, I'm like everyone, I already know Tokyo. It is the capital of Japan, one of the largest cities in the world, certainly one where the rate of "embedded technology per person" is the highest; everyone carries at the very least a Walkman there, for sure. Besides, I saw Tokyo on TV many times. Anyone like me who is now between 30 and 40 years have spent long hours in front of Grendizer, Captain Harlock, Cobra, San Ku Kai, X-OR, Akira ... And then later I saw documentaries and films. I saw Lost in Translation, Ring, The Empire of the senses, Kill Bill, Crying Freeman. I know Takeshi Kitano (not personally, eh). I have read and watched Shogun. I have had a Suzuki, a Mitsubishi and even a Sony TV and VCR set! And then my camera is a Nikon ... So no need to say: I know Japan and I know Tokyo. However, this part of the world has always been for me one of the most attractive mysteries. The little-curious-me up in my head always wanted to see-Japan-for-real, and in the first place: Tokyo!
Tokyo, formerly known as Edo or Yedo, bares a fascinating history, populated with samurais, ninjas, geishas, political intrigues and great military battles. Equally fascinating are the protocols of Japanese daily life and eating habits radically different from our Western ones. But one of the first things that one notices in Tokyo is the weight of statistics. In 2010, Tokyo is largest city in the world (2), its population density is more than 5,900 inhabitants per km2 ... And it is obvious! In Tokyo, every place is crowded at any time. Watch the thousands of bystanders waiting well disciplined as the little for the crossing light to turn green and then see them rushing through the monumental walkway at Shibuya Scramble Crossing is a spectacle worthy of a battlefield scene from Barry Lyndon - or perhaps from the Lord of the Rings but much quieter and with much more mini-skirts and dust masks.
Tokyo is big, huge. To go through it by car, train, or to go around one of the many freeways that surround the city takes one to an exotic journey, crossing tens of thousands of faces, walking, driving, sitting, waiting, eating, chatting, living in the biggest concrete jungle of the world. But Tokyo is not just made of glass skyscrapers, giant video screens and manga characters roaming in the streets. It is also a city where one has preserved many traditional aspects.
The Asakusa area houses Sensoji Temple, this Buddhist temple is the oldest in Tokyo. Its foundation dates back to 645 after a statue of Buddha was found in the Sumida River. Today Sensō-ji is one of the most visited touristic and religious places in Tokyo. There people come to burn incent sticks and pray to Buddha; or simply to see what the future holds. Two pagodas at the entrance of the temple are dedicated to this practice: you just have to grab a metal box and shake it, extract a wooden stick on which a Japanese character is carved, the character indicates, on a wall of drawers which one to open (the one showing the same character off course) then the drawer delivers a small sheet of paper on which is inscribed a prediction about your future. If the prediction is good, just thank Buddha and keeps the paper; if the prediction is not good - well it's just karma, then you have to fold the sheet and tie it to a metal rod, leave it to the wind and forget about it. So simple. After such a (mis)adventure, as there is always a little anxiety into discovering your own future - and it is also quite scary to know that your all life is already all written and printed ... So, after so much of stress there is nothing more relaxing than watching a good old Japanese cherry blossom.
Let's ask a rickshaw puller to take us to Ueno Park! What? No? Haaa OK. It seems that the Asakusa rickshaws do not leave the neighborhood. They no longer play the role of taxi. They have turned into tourist guides who take you through the area using the force of the calf while delivering a profusion of historical details. The least I can say is that they are quite in shape; but they will not take us to Ueno.
Too bad, we'll take the subway. Ueno Onshi Koen, the "Ueno Imperial Gift Park" was built in 1924 on a land given to the city by the Emperor Taisho. In spring the park is frequented by many locals as well as foreign tourists (like me) who come to admire Sakura (like me), the Japanese cherry tree flowers blossom. During this period, the park is literally packed. The weekends its wider aisles welcome huge picnics that are organized in a rather Japanese fashion, that is to say: perfect.
Tokyo is a wonderful city. Like many I do not fancy much long walks among a huge crowd but there it does not matter. At least that time it did not. The city is beautiful, whether in its most modern looks, as in its traditional ones. There are so many things to see, so much to do there, everything is so different and yet so easy to access ... I must admit that, yes, 72 hours was way too short. But what beautiful 72 hours!