AT THE WESTERN BORDER OF TOKYO IS THE KAMOZAWA BRIDGE, WHICH CONNECTS THIS giant metropolis with a village, called Tabayama, which has a population of maybe six hundred people. Here, at least, Tabayama seems the more bustling of the two.
As my friend Sean and I get off the bus, we see several houses on the village side of the border, some ancient, weather-beaten statues, and a restaurant that may or may not be open. A motorcycle is parked nearby. An older man is puttering about in the distance.
On the Tokyo side? Well, there’s the road. It’s called the Ome Highway, but here it’s hardly more than two narrow country lanes. We stand in the middle of it for a few minutes after the bus leaves and no cars come from either direction. On one side of the road is a forest-covered hill.
The leaves on some of the trees have already turned yellow or orange, but not too many. It’s only October 18th, after all, and it’s bright and warm and sunny enough to still feel like summer. On the other side of the road is a lake.
And…that’s it. There are no skyscrapers at the Tokyo border; in fact, there are no buildings. No neon lights. No crowds. The sign marking the border that reads “東京都” and below, in English, “Tokyo Met.”—Tokyo Metropolis— seems like an elaborate practical joke.
But of course it’s not. The official heart of arguably the most populous urban area in the world begins here and ends more than 90 kilometers (56 miles) to the east. We look at each other, grin, and start walking.
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