Modern, ancient, tradition, evolution.
The harmony of the coexistence of these elements makes Tokyo one of the most complex cities that exist. Open to modernity only in the late nineteenth century, when Italy became a State and America abolished slavery, Japan avidly preserved the traditions, gestures, and knowledge that contributed in the past to making it mysterious, beautiful and exotic.
It is not unusual in Tokyo to walk the streets of the most ancient areas, those that have resisted glass, steel, the rush to the sky, to see small Buddhist and Shinto temples, with the red of their torii, the unmistakable shape of pagodas and see them frequented by salary man in work clothes, but also by young families and curious tourists. It almost seems that this city, where everything turns like a carousel, where everything and its opposite coexist in harmony, we want to maintain fixed and firm points, we want to remember, net of daily and work commitments, that the roots are there, they are deep, they must not be cut, they must remain where they were generated so as to never forget who they were, thus making the past a permanent center of gravity around which they can reinvent themselves but also rediscover themselves.
The area of Asakusa is for me one of the emblems of this mixture of historical periods and architectures, dense as it is with traditional wooden houses, miraculously escaped from time, but it is also where the world’s tallest telecommunications tower stands tall and proud , the Sky Tree that with its 634m dominates the entire North East area of the city, becoming a reference point and a break with a modern skyline that has very little. Here you can walk around Nakamise-dori, a must to get to Senso-ji, the largest and most important Buddhist temple in Tokyo, the beating heart of the Japanese area and culture, where you can breathe the scents of real streed food and you can lose yourself in the souvenir shops and typical ceramics, making this experience a real dive into the past. Here I find the meaning of this metropolis, the space lights of the Sky Tree somehow manage to marry with the warmth of the wood and lanterns of Asakusa, making this place the authentic architectural expression of Tokyo, which extends its roots towards the other managing never to part with it.
What makes this city a space sometimes suspended between the modern and the ancient is the presence of many Japanese girls in traditional dress: on the subway and in the streets, on holidays, women, men and children often go to the temple in kimono and geta (the traditional flip-flop sandals), showing off all the sumptuousness and royalty of silks, embroideries that shine in the sun, moving in complex and well-kept hairstyles with elegance and composure. Especially on the second Monday of January, when the sixjin no hi is celebrated, the age of majority, the streets, clubs and places of worship are full of young women and men in kimono, with obi (the typical silk band with which the kimono) closes with bright colors to symbolize youth, the freshness of the spirit with which this goal is welcomed: watching these young twenties, in their best smiles, makes you hang in time, makes you forget the era in which you are , immersing yourself in a culture of which we know little and which can sometimes be difficult to grasp in its entirety. To date, the old kimono and the obi fabrics are often readapted as tablecloths, cushions for covers, table runners: there are many craftsmen who with wisdom, mastery and respect manage to give new life to these pieces of fabric which are the pieces of a Japan now disappeared but more alive than ever, who knows how to make space in the third millennium, bringing with it the tradition of its own greatness.
The temporal balance on which one walks in Tokyo makes it unique in the world, when one wants to escape from a often sterile modernity of authentic stimuli, here it is still possible to take refuge in the peace of a garden of camellias, in a temple, in a narrow street of typical restaurants, be filled with eyes, colors, fabrics, patterns and breathe a bit of that ethereal and mysterious air that we could only read in books.