Tokyo a clean city
A recent visit to Tokyo for an energy conference opened my eyes to some important factors that make Tokyo skies clean and clear.
How commendable that Tokyo residents don’t smoke cigarettes just anywhere in public areas. One sees in any of the several entrances below the train station, for example, an open-air designated smoking area where citizens stop by to puff a cigarette or two before walking onward.
Some Japanese visitors newly arrived at the Manila International Airport were looking around for the same designated smoking area in our airport, and finding none, settled for the patch of greenery outside the arrival area.
The Tokyo skyline is clean and clear. Seventy-five percent of commuters in Tokyo take the train or subway, and we witnessed peak hours high congestion there. Population in the city is much bigger during the day than at night. The average city worker commutes by train two hours a day.
Tokyo residents live at most 500 meters away from a train station. The growth of the metropolis was mainly due to its railway development. The daily ridership of about 20 million people in the city of Tokyo represents one-third of the national ridership. The city daily ridership is about one-and a-half of the city’s population.
Looking down the hotel window I was fascinated with the scenic cityscape of a clean and beautifully maintained canal, streetside trees and green rooftops on the surrounding buildings.
Tokyo temperature is some three degrees Celsius above that of the countryside’s. The heat-island effect is heavy in the city following the great urban development starting from the 1960s when the country started climbing to great economic heights. Annual warming is double the global 0.6 degrees Celsius increase in temperature.
It is reported that Tokyo has a high consumption rate, resulting in an ecological footprint of up to three times its land area. The government and the citizens are aware of this. Japan is most advanced in Asia in energy-efficiency and energy-conservation measures.
The late 1950s saw the land filling on the east of the Tokyo Bay to create residential and industrialized areas. The Metropolitan Government Green Tokyo project of 2004 is well-executed and everywhere one looks is aesthetically very pleasant, first because it is clean, then beautiful.
The great Kanto earthquake of 1923 moved the Japanese in Tokyo to develop its numerous waterways to act as firebreaks, because back in the 1920s they had difficulty putting out fires resulting from the earthquake due to lack of firefighting systems.
Japanese cities evolved through waterways, roads and then railway and highway structures. If Venice and Amsterdam built their identities from being port cities, Tokyo has pride in its beautiful rivers and canals within the city.
The building of canals was important for moving building supplies and daily necessities. As the city grew, canals spiraled out. The rivers bring the citizens close to their history and to nature. Japan’s main religions bring the Japanese people close to nature and beauty, and this is very evident in the way they develop and maintain their city waterways.
Tokyo hosted the 1959 Olympics and will do it again in 2020. This will result in a cultural and economic growth for Japan.
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