Japan is a country with a dwindling population, with more elderly than live births. However, looking at videos of rush hour train service and the famous Shibuya crossing, you might think that Japan’s population is huge! This is simply not the case.
Japan is an island with a terrain that is massively mountainous. As a result, the cities and towns that have livable terrain are densely populated. Hence why cities like Tokyo seem so full of people.
To combat this, the Japanese create cities that are vertical. This means that buildings, whether they are commercial or not, are built up. Even a super store like Costco (yes there is one in Japan) is made vertically. The parking deck is on top, while the escalators drop at about a hundred or so feet to the actual store below. Even the shopping carts, which are just as massive as they are in the States, are able to be placed on the escalators for ease.
Even with densely populated cities and vertical buildings, nature is not neglected. Tokyo has many parks and places full of green. The buildings also have places full of foliage too!
Believe it or not, but if you want peace and quiet from the bustling city, you don’t have to find parks or temples, you can simply go to the top of the biggest mall high rises.
Let’s take Futako Tamagawa, a city where I lived for a year while I taught abroad. Futako Tamagawa is located in Tokyo, and easily accessible from the Den-en-toshi line. With easy access to other places in Tokyo such as Shibuya, and Jiyugaoka.
This is a town for mainly families, as you can’t go far without seeing a mother and her child going about their day. There is a park where you can enjoy a stroll. However, during the day, it can be quite busy. I personally liked going to one of the malls called Rise. There are about four distinct malls in the center of town. You can’t miss it!
In rainy weather, you can go underground, which has a ton of eateries and shops. Yet, if you are in search of solitude, head to the top, and I mean the very top of the high rise mall. Since there are about four different malls, access to each roof top varies.
So, let’s start with the mall, Takashimaya.
With a unique design, this mall has several floors dedicated to shops, eateries, and a wonderful roof top terrace. As you can see, above the brown siding, there are many green shrubs and trees. You can access the roof from the elevator, or from inside via the escalator until you reach the top floor. There are small man made ponds and even a seating area. You may see some mothers with their children, but if you go in cold weather, you are more likely to find it absent of people all together.
You can also get to the mall from the street level via an outside escalator. Just traveling to the malls and navigating them is an adventure I am sure you can enjoy.
From Takashimaya’s rooftop, you can go into the main mall next to it and go up a few more floors from the elevator. These are positioned on the left side if you were to view the building from outside. Going up to the very top floor, you will notice the quiet, almost deafening sound of silence. Here is where many restaurants are located. (I’ll be sure to post a future article on the structure of the Japanese mall).
On this floor, in this particular building, there will only be a handful of restaurants, so there is little traffic. Go to the right from the elevator, and go towards the front of the building. From there, you will see perhaps two more elevators, which give you access to the rest of the mall. This area will only have two elevators and large windows. You can see the beauty of the landscape.
I didn’t know about this place until a week before I had to leave Japan. So I am sure to stop here in the future. There will be no place to sit here, so if you don’t mind being on the floor, sit and relax in complete solitude. Or until someone tells you, you can’t be there.
Looking at the picture above, you can see the brown windows of the mall I mentioned earlier. The building I am in now is taller. This building also has a green rooftop terrace a few floors down. Their rooftop leads to the one in Takashimaya. Basically they’re both linked.
Now, if you go down the elevator from where I am, you can go all the way down to the street level. Across the street, you may see KFC. On the left of that, is the area that leads to the train station if you were to make a right. You will also be on the low level of the mall called Dogwood Plaza, located to your left. This mall has several floors and includes many stores, and restaurants. The restaurants are located on the top floor. There is no roof access here.
If you go further into the area that is close to the train station, but keep going forward, you will eventually pass a bus terminal. Going forward you will encounter stairs. Go up and look to the left or right.
In this picture, you are coming from the bus terminal and you can go up more stairs to the left or right. From there you can choose the roof top which usually has little to no people. I suggest the stairs to the right above the movie theater. There are high winds so please be careful. There is also a seating area that many people use for quiet relaxing time. Rarely will you have someone on the phone, or using the space to hang out with friends. So if you don’t mind people being around, this can also be a place of quiet comfort.
If you need another place to relax alone, there is an open seating area not on a roof, but going towards the park. Come from the bus terminal, and keep going straight. Looking below, you can see the area is not very busy. Usually this area is empty even with people walking around. The seats are the grey round mounds on the ground. Awkward at first to sit on, they are not too bad. If you have a bad back, I suggest finding somewhere else to sit.
Many cities offer these types of quiet places of refuge. However, Futako Tamagawa is different in that this place is mainly for families and has little to no tourists. So it is not actually as crowded as other places. Going about your day is easy.
Going through the area on the weekend can be a bit more challenging than the weekday. However, I aways say explore and see what you can find. There are always nooks for lonely people, and you never know what you can find.
I hope you enjoyed my post, I hope you can use it for the future. Also, any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.