Walking and the pedestrian environment
November 18, 2006
Unnamed Hillsides (Tokyo)

A new generation of hills in the Akasaka neighborhood await christening.

This article is an appendice to the special feature Akasaka on the Rise. In that series, I profiled the named, often historic hillsides of Tokyo's Akasaka neighborhood.

As has happened with Cat Rise, well-used and discussed routes will develop nicknames in the community vernacular. A mother may tell her child "I'll be waiting for you afterwards out on Penguin Street," using their personal shorthand for the unnamed street with Penguin Barbershop. If enough people pick up on the same name, or if it finds fame or infamy through an event or artistic mention, the street may live on in the public consciousness.

Here is a brief set of street rises in Akasaka that are, at least for now, unnamed. If I were a real anthropologist, I'd hang out at each of them for a few days or a week, chatting with and interviewing people who work or live nearby. There are new names simmering in the underground.

Akasaka Garden City stairsCreated as part of the Akasaka Garden City project, this staircase was surprisingly left nameless. Surprising because it's so fashionable to build rises these days. I guess that people have forgotten that staircases are legitimate candidates.

Alternate Tango stairsNearby, these stairs lead to a back street that serves as an alternate route to adjacent Tango Rise. This route is seldom used, and may be best known as the occasional home for a rare homeless person.

Leafy Rise near HikawaThis rise leads up to the top of Old Hikawa Rise. Lined with consulate residences, it is a leafy, refreshing walk.

Short rise near InariIn the shopping district at the base of Inari Rise and New Rise, this nicely curved street leads up to a very attractive front gate, and has ramps to push bikes. It should be named after the house's owner.

Shop-lined rise near Tamachi RoadThis brilliant set of three staircases connects the Fukuyoshi plateau with the shopping districts of Tamachi Road (田町通り, Tamachi Doori) and One Tree Road (一ツ木通り, Hitotsugi Doori). It's lined with small restaurants and other stores, and it's a great shortcut that's not on any map I've seen.

Tree-lined street near Cherry RiseLocated between the tops of Cherry Rise and New Hackberry Rise and the supposed base of Festival Drum Rise, this road is mistakenly labeled as Cherry Rise on Ark Hills maps. Or maybe they really thought they were extending it up this way during development.

Residential hill street near Cypress RiseThis wonderful street winds up and over the hill between the bottom of Cypress Rise and Akasaka Elementary School. One of the condominium buildings at the top was so desperate for a street name that it calls itself Nogizaka Residences, swiping the name of Nogi Rise, which is a bit west of the school. This street has a couple of nice curves in it, and it ends in a stair case or switch-back road on the north.

Street rise leading to the nunneryRunning up the hill behind Nogi Shrine, this street supposedly dead-ends at the Asia Auditorium (アジア会館, Ajia Kaikan) after passing a nunnery. I still haven't tested if there's a way to walk through. The wild hillside is ornamented with small statues of Mary behind barbed wire. With the long shadows cast by adjacent buildings, it's kind of creepy!

Temple bypassUp near Aoyama Boulevard (青山通り, Aoyama Doori), this street leads up from One Tree Road (一ツ木通り, Hitotsugi Doori). It leads to a neighborhood temple. Down here it looks huge and inviting. you get to the top and it seems to end at the temple's parking lot. Beyond the carports is a fence with barbed wire on top, and a small steel gate. The gate leads out to the neighborhood, making a great shortcut.

Eight Rise ShrineHeading up from Outer Moat Boulevard (外堀通り, Sotobori Doori) is a marvelous set of stairs. Head under the huge gate for Hie Shrine (日枝神社, Hie Jinjya). Across the street and just to the left is a set of regular stone steps that will take you to the base of this. It's a series of eight flights of stairs, each step capped in a shrine gate. It leads up to Eight Rise Shrine (八坂神社, Yasaka Jinjya), which is at the back of the Hie Shrine complex. This is not quite Akasaka, and it might have a name I guess, but what the heck, it's worth mentioning.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at November 18, 2006 10:57 PM
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