A suburb of Tokyo with lazy canals, rows of cherry blossoms, quiet streets and old buildings? In my mind’s eye, I pictured a mini-Amsterdam in Japan! However – this was still the mighty concrete jungle of Tokyo, so what we actually found in Nakameguro were high-walled, concrete stormwater channels stained green from algae. It was winter, too, so we had missed the beautiful, flowering sakura season (by ‘just’ a couple of months). Instead of clusters of dainty pink blossoms, we saw gnarled, skeletal branches leaning over the canals.
Sounds like a great disappointment? Well…no, actually!
Some kind of event was taking place – roads were being closed off with barriers, and cars were redirected by police officers with glow sticks and classy white gloves. Volunteers in yellow jackets were ushering people around. Wondering what was happening, we found a volunteer who spoke a little English, who could tell us what was happening. Tonight was the Nakameguro Jewel Dome (a name which we initially thought was a lost-in-translation mistake, but it’s really called that) – a Christmastime event where the trees are illuminated by around 30,000 fairy lights. As the sun set and the bars filled with people, the lights flickered on, the trees blossomed with light, and Nakameguro came alive!