Riverside Tokyo, Where I Recover My Natural and Honest Self

essay, Jun. 2019

mao nakazawa

For me, born and raised in Tokyo, going to the side of a big river is the best way to relax and refresh.

Even in Tokyo, the largest city in Japan with 13 million people, birds sing, children play around, and citizens walk leisurely while bathed in the sunlight under the wide sky along the river.

When I get in a slump with work, love, or family issues, and want to have my own time, feet unconsciously lead me towards a big river in Tokyo.

This time, I visited Etchujima Park. From Tsukishima Station of the Oedo metro Line, you first see the shopping street with lots of monjayaki restaurants, known as Monja Street.

Monjayaki is local food in Tokyo, in which you mix wheat with vegetables, meat, or fish, and cook on the hot plate, and Tsukishima is well known for it.

If you walk on the opposite side of Monja Street along Kiyosumi street and cross Aioi bridge, you then arrive at Etchujima Park. A large anchor-shaped sculpture welcomes you.

If you walk further, now a big whale wall painting appears in front of you.

It is rare to see pictures of this scale in crowded Tokyo, so I’d like to call it a hidden masterpiece. The small and gentle eyes compared to the big whale body were lovely, and it looked comfortable in the sun.

I passed by runners, people taking their dogs for a walk, and children with their parents practicing on their bicycles. I was the one who was hanging my camera around my neck and taking photos.

When I was concentrating on that, I heard a gentle voice, “did you take good photos?” behind me. I said a bit shyly, “yeah, kind of.” Then the old man smiled and said, “that’s great!” and left.

When I walked further I was asked, “are you a photographer?” I replied “yes” and the middle-aged woman left with the words “keep working on it!”

At Etchujima Park, I felt a comfortable distance between others. In Tokyo, you pass by hundreds or thousands of people every day, but you will hardly get a chance to say hello to strangers.

Here, I got a chance to talk with people around me. Maybe the comfortable wind from the river brought us close. If I had visited a place far away from home, I would have definitely asked them to go out for a drink.

High apartment buildings are everywhere at riversides in Tokyo, and Etchujima Park is also surrounded by them. I like the contrast between the buildings and the river as if the buildings were majestic fathers and the swaying water of the river were wrinkles of mothers’ gentle smile.

Here, both the river and the buildings are artificial. The river is maintained and surrounded by cement. Still, the sky was so blue, the water was heading to the ocean, birds were stretching their wings and flying away, and I greeted people passing by. This is real Tokyo where I grew up and the rich scenery of my hometown. There is no magnificent nature, but nothing unnatural.

In the evening along the river at Etchujima Park, somehow I can be honest to my thoughts and feelings. The light of the apartment buildings and the lighted-up bridge illuminated my walking path, no matter how dark the night was. Such light also illuminated my inner self and I could reveal my secrets, which I’d never told anyone, toward the night view.

If you walk alone here, you want to come with your loved ones. And if so, the night view will surely look brighter.

Hearing the sound of wind and water and feeling the signs of people living around, I never felt alone even if I lived in such a big city. It was as if the wind from the river touched my heart gently and the sound of the water treated me as its old friend. Nature recharged me.

Walking back toward Tsukishima Station, I was excited for tomorrow.

Etchujima Park from Tsukishima Station:
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Monja Street from Tsukishima Station:
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Tsukishima Station from Tokyo Station:
Open Google Map (12min.)

written by

mao nakazawa

Photographer and essayist. Born in 1988, Tokyo, Japan. Based in Tokyo.
I am updating my blogs "record of tokyo" with film photographs.
Feel free to contact me!

website: cameranakazawa.com
instagram: @_maonakazawa_
twitter: @_maonakazawa_

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