modern

Selfista: The very worst Tokyo apartment building name?

As I’ve joked before, Tokyo has more than its share of strange building names, which seem to only increase in senselessness with the poshness of the neighborhood. I’ve ridiculed Movements, Zesty Minami-Koenji, Decent, and one of my favorites Cram Place.

This is a lovely modern apartment tower, lots of exterior raw concrete, beautiful balconies and views, a kindergarden on the ground floor, near good restaurants and mature trees, a place I would love to live in.

Yet, passing that name every day would be too much, right? “Selfista” reminds me of too English words: selfish, and self-fister which sounds like the master of an extreme sexual practice.

Yukata posing at Southern Terrace

I was walking through Southern Terrace and was struck by this man in a dark yukata. I love how his fan is neatly tucked into his obi. He seemed to be parading around without an audience, so I obliged by taking his photograph. I love the contrast between his retro-cool outfit and the modern city around him: construction workers and clearance sales. I love the mix of old and new, stylish and mundane.

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo

What seems like an ancient wood residence sits incongrously on the main street of Akasaka. I visited this central Tokyo neighborhood twice recently for work. Each time I was amazed by this particular house, directly next door to an up-to-the-last-minute McDonalds, dwarfed by a few street trees, and modern high-rise towers. The owners must have turned down many offers for developing their land.

Here’s another view of this small home next to fast food modernitee.

An ancient house in Akasaka, central Tokyo, next to McDonalds

The street contains a Metro station and a number of buildings from the 1960s to this decade. My favorite is the one in the middle of the next photo. The glass facade looks like shards jutting in and out for 15 stories.

Akasaka modern

Akasaka has a wonderful mix of the slick newest building styles, the banality that you see everywhere in Tokyo, and bits and pieces of old Tokyo charm.

My work colleagues took me into an ugly mid-rise building where there was a restaurant that looked like a throw-back to the 1960s. We sat on a tatami mat, with no floor cut-outs to make sitting easier, and the stout and friendly proprietress served up delicious bento box of sashimi and tempura for me, aji-don for my new friends. The per person cost, including service, was $11.

On a smaller side street, I saw two fancier restaurants with interesting gardens. The first is incredibly simple and mostly obscured by the wall.

Akasaka small garden

The second is wonderfully fussy, including the bamboo hat that is both decorative and a means to train a pine tree.

Akasaka small garden 2