Travel: Shinagawa/Tokyo

If the street corner just outside the Takanawa gate from Shinagawa Station, south of central Tokyo, isn’t the world’s busiest thoroughfare, it has to be at least a competitor. It’s hard to imagine New York, London, Seoul or Mumbai exceeding it.

At nearly any hour, Shinagawa teems. Even in this hyper-polite society, the flow is speedy and brusque; you stop walking or run your suitcase into someone’s foot at your peril. It’s daunting and exciting all at once.

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Of course, it’s the train station that is chiefly responsible for this mass of humanity. But it has help: giant hotels and glass-sided office buildings, department stores, pedestrian bridges over the streets — it’s like a huge, living Richard Scarry book, with everyone and everything going.

And yet, mere metres away are little oases from the noise, the heat: a downstairs sushi bar or a streetside Thai café, even a semi-open-air McDonald’s.

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My favorite escape, though, isn’t away from the bustle at all. Instead, it’s right next to it, pillared by two office buildings. The small Buddhist temple sits serenely amid the traffic roars and horn honks, the train sounds and the exhaust fumes. I make a point of walking over from my hotel every trip to drop some coins in the box and pray thanks for a safe outbound journey, then hope for similar blessings inbound.

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Seems that before there was modern Shinagawa, royalty stopped to rest at this spot during long sojourns. No reason anyone, royal or not, should interfere with centuries of tradition.

Copyright 2013 Adam Barr

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One thought on “Travel: Shinagawa/Tokyo

  1. It takes very keen observation skills and the practiced ability to clear one’s head and control one’s breathing in order to see what you see, and feel what you feel, while on the road.

    The itinerary for our upcoming speed junket to London — 101 hours, 35 minutes from touchdown to takeoff — has been mapped out, broken down, revised, locked and loaded, but I’m now promising myself a “Barr Break” somewhere along the line. I’m going to just stop and literally take in the sights, the sounds, the sense of BEING there.

    I’ll give myself, oh … 35 minutes. I’m setting my timer now.

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