The Walk To Our Son’s Condo

The New Sanno Hotel, where we’re staying while we’re here in Japan, is just a 15 minute walk from our son’s condo in the NishiAzabu neighborhood. We have two choices of how to get ourselves from the hotel to his place: a) turn right out of the front of the hotel and walk along a busy four-lane thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants and other businesses, or b) turn left out of the hotel and then take the next left onto a narrow residential street that takes us the “back way.”

Both options are quintessentially Japanese, but we always choose the second one, and this is the walk we take each day.

While most of the area is residential, there are also a few businesses along the way. There are also several vending machines interspersed on the road, most selling either hot or cold drinks, or cigarettes.

The street is very clean. There is absolutely no trash, and the sidewalk is swept the entire way. Japanese are master recyclers, and on trash days bags are neatly set out in designated areas with each type of trash/recycling separated for pick up. If there is a large pile of trash, the bags are covered with netting so they don’t spill out into the street.

Occasionally we see an old house among the new. The land the house sits on is extremely valuable, worth millions of dollars. Building a new house would also cost millions, so the owners tend to hold on to their old house as long as possible and then sell the land to a developer.

More older-style homes, probably from the 1970s and 1980s, with a new high-rise condo going up in the background. Almost every house and condo has plantings in the front, or at least some potted plants.

We pass a small neighborhood Shinto shrine on the way. This is one of the things I love about Japan, finding a very traditional shrine or Buddhist temple mixed in with modern homes and condos. Local festivals and services are held at the shrine throughout the year.

Halfway to our son’s condo is the National Azabu supermarket. The neighborhood contains many embassies, so there are lots of foreigners living in the area, and National Azabu carries a wide selection of “foreign” foods, although you will pay dearly for them. A container of Fage yogurt that costs around $4 back in the U.S. is approximately $19 here, and a western-style beef roast, if you must have it, will cost you your firstborn.

A studio apartment in the neighborhood can start at $2000/month, and prices go up from there. Many of the apartments in the neighborhood are larger than a typical Japanese residence, to suit Western tastes, and have amenities like dishwashers, ranges with ovens and such, things not typically found in Japanese homes but that appeal to foreigners. We saw an ad for a 683 sq. foot 1-bedroom condo (new construction) that was selling for $1.25 million dollars!

A sculpture adorns a corner of an apartment building along the way.

Our son’s condo is just nine stories tall, but all units open into an inner courtyard, which is a feature our son and his wife wanted after the big earthquake in 2011. A mixture of foreigners and Japanese live in the building, and there is rarely ever a unit available for rent. An apartment/condo building will always have balconies; a commercial building won’t.

I have yet to go to any residence in Japan, whether it’s a house, condo, or high-rise apartment, that doesn’t have an intercom system used to announce your presence, whether you’re family or a tradesperson. Modern intercoms, like at our son’s condo, also have video capability, so you can see who is asking to be let in.

Everyone takes off their shoes in the genkan before stepping up into a Japanese home. When you take your shoes off, you turn them to point out so that all you have to do is slip them on to leave (we fail miserably at this). All homes have a spacious shoe closet built next to the genkan.

What no photo can capture is how safe the neighborhood is. Cars watch out for people walking. You can walk alone at night and not worry about being accosted. You can leave your umbrella or your bicycle outside a store and it will be there when you come out.

11 thoughts on “The Walk To Our Son’s Condo

  1. Is there any place like Central Park in New York? Potted plants don’t do it for me, but then I’m a country girl.


    1. We are going to the Meiji Shrine tomorrow, which sits in the middle of a large wooded area, right in the middle of Tokyo.The Imperial Palace area is also park-like, but there’s really nothing like Central Park here. People here love nature though, and try to have as much greenery around them as is possible in such a crowded city.


    1. Except for one rainy day, the weather here has been nice – sunny, but cool (not cold). Weather forecasts here are quite accurate. If the sun is shining when you step out, but everyone is carrying an umbrella, it is going to rain. Likewise, if it’s overcast, but no one has an umbrella, no rain. It’s quite cold here in the winter, with occasional snow, and summers are HOT and HUMID, but spring and fall here are delightful!


  2. What a wonderful and interesting post! I love seeing the everyday details of a city. Thank you for sharing! So glad you are having a good time.


    1. Thanks! We are having a fabulous time. I think we’ve walked 5-7 miles almost every day we’ve been here, and we’re loving the time with our son, his wife and our grandchildren.


    1. We have been having a wonderful time, and it’s almost hard to believe there are only a few more days before it’s time to head for home. We’re looking forward to spending time with our grandkids again today (Friday here).


  3. Your posts are so interesting and the pictures are wonderful. Really enjoying your adventures in Japan. 🙂


    1. Thanks! I should post more, but we’re out every day and then when we get back to the room we’re exhausted, and all we want to do is go to sleep and get ready for the next day’s adventure.


  4. When I was in Japan in June 2015, it was hot and humid, but we thankfully didn’t have any rain the 10 days we were there. The tour guide said we were very lucky because the tour she did before ours it rained almost every day.

    I was fascinated by the vending machines there and how you can buy anything from the usual soda and candy to full meals. And the drinks come in so many different varieties and flavors. But the thing I miss the most are the toilets! If you’ve been to Japan, you know what I mean…;-)

    How are the cherry blossoms?


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