Saturday, December 20, 2008

5pm on Friday in Tokyo

In Tokyo, timing is everything. You could run your watch by the trains; contractors and deliverymen give you a time that they will arrive and they actually do it.  Every single day at 5pm across the city, chimes play to let everyone know that it's, well, 5pm.  

Yesterday I was walking home from Roppongi Hills after getting my haircut and I noted a group of Japanese people waiting on a walking bridge that goes over the main slope.  Roppongi Hills is a new-ish area of town (circa 2003) and has upscale shops like Kate Spade, Tiffany's, Isaac Mizrahi and upscale restaurants like Il Mulino, Joel Rubecheon, and the like.  They have an outdoor arena that hosts concerts and festivals year-round.

I noted the time: 4:57pm.  

Taking my place with the small crowd, I looked over the side of the bridge down the slope.  Three minutes later, at precisely 5pm, the chimes started their ringing and at the same moment, the entire street below became ablaze and alive with blue and white lights sending a collective "ooooh" up from the people.  The chimes faded seconds later with the the last of the expressions from the people.

I waited a moment, savoring the beauty of the lights and the excitement of the people.  What they take for granted is not only the timing, but the magic of the city itself.  I have not been to another city that is as busy yet still as quiet as Tokyo. The city and its people are clean and kind. It is a miracle in modern society and it is the ambiance of the city that I love so much. 

As they all dispersed, on to homes or dinners or wherever, I  stopped into the wine shop that is at the end of the bridge and bought a half-bottle of champagne to share with Marc.  It seemed like something to celebrate.

Happiest of Holidays to you all - and may 2009 bring you peace.

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