JSPS Quarterly

No.66-67 2019 TOPICS

The University of Tokyo and Its Surroundings

 on the map of Japan

The Hongo Campus of the University of Tokyo is centrally located in the city, yet it is peaceful and calm. In the autumn, the ginkgo trees on the campus turn golden, definitely a special sight. The campus is only a few minutes from the vibrant Ueno district, which offers a variety of good izakaya (pubs) and a stunning park. During the cherry blossom season, people enjoy strolling through the park or having a picnic under the cherry trees, also called hanami.

Tokyo is an amazing city, offering everything from delicious food to cultural events and unique entertainment. The city is an agglomeration of many small districts, each one with its own flair. Depending on the mood, I visit distinct neighbourhoods such as Asakusa or for shiny Tokyo; I also go towards Shinjuku or Akihabara. Even though it is one of the biggest cities in the world, I was surprised by the large number of parks, which, depending on the season, completely change their colours.

Once in a while, I flee city life and enjoy Japan's nature. A one and a half hour train ride from Tokyo takes you to Mount Odake's gorgeous hiking trails. Especially in misty weather, the ambiance is mystical. Near the train stations, there are small restaurants offering local food and homemade soba or udon (noodle) dishes.

Another place worth a visit is Nagano in wintertime. Near Nagano City there is a special park where you can see wild macaques (Old World monkeys) getting together and enjoying a bath in the hot springs. If you are very lucky, they even join in the hot springs set aside for people. In the summertime, you can either get away from the heat by going all the way up north to Hokkaido or jump into the turquoise ocean surrounding the Okinawa islands.

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JSPS Quarterly No.65 2018