One way to define a city is by its parks. London is good. New York is miserable, with Central Park, though a showpiece in itself, awkwardly cutting Manhattan in two.
Tokyo has its showplace parks too. Shinjuku Gyoen, Yoyogi Koen, and that park open to the public in the grounds of the Imperial Palace come to mind, but the great thing about Tokyo's parks is that there are so many of them--at least 7,000 as far as anyone can make out. Every neighborhood has its own.
But then you have to think: what is a park? In Tokyo, a park can be just an open space with a bench. It just might have a swing or a slide or a sand box and there might be a patch of greenery looked after by the neighborhood green thumbs. Sometimes there's a bulletin board for notices about swimming contests, cooking classes, and lost dogs. There might be a very sturdy but battered wooden table where the neighborhood go players can play a quiet game.
Tokyo's parks are often what amounts to the neighborhood living room, a place for dozing, a place for gossip, a place for making mad plans.
- Natasha Nakamura