Myoden is a fairly unremarkable suburb on the eastern outskirts of Tokyo, just into the Chiba prefecture. Like a Japanese Tooting, it’s about 30 minutes from the city centre on the Metro. Convenience of location for commuting is about the only thing that Myoden has in common with Tooting however.
The first thing you notice is that the train that takes you to Myoden is a cleaner, more efficient version of its London counterpart. Even a one or two minute delay would cause raised eyebrows amongst commuters here. And once you arrive you see that the cleanliness and orderliness that you experienced on the train is the norm for the area as a whole. There is little evidence of the litter, the vandalism, the dirt and the grime that we take for granted in mucky old London. Men in immaculate uniforms proudly polish the station floors while people wait politely in line to get on the next train.
By 11pm, as the last salaryman staggers out of the station, Myoden is dark and quiet. Really quiet. This is mostly due to practicalities: the Japanese live close to each other and have thin walls - they have no choice but to be quiet. In a city normally so hectic you might expect such silence to feel eerie, but it just seems peaceful – a rare respite before the next manic bout of work. As you walk the empty streets, the dark doesn’t feel heavy or threatening, just tranquil. There’s nothing to worry about, you are completely safe. It’s a light kind of dark.