Design for All

Sendai Mediatheque. Photo by Tomio Ohashi The building started shaking at 2:46pm. Books tumbled off shelves, magazine racks teetered and ceiling panels swayed violently back and forth like a drunk trying to reclaim his balance. This was the scene in a YouTube video recorded the seventh floor of the Sendai Mediatheque on March 11, when […]

Miniature Monuments

It is hard to overstate the extent to which neon has shaped Hong Kong’s landscape, its streets awash in hues of red, yellow, green and blue, not to mention the way the city is perceived abroad. Bolstered by memories of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, both of which were inspired by Hong Kong, […]

Photo of the Week: One Step Ahead

New Year’s Eve, Zenko-ji Temple, Nagano, Japan. Photo by Peter Schön. Every week, we feature striking images from our Urbanphoto group on Flickr. Want to see your photos here? Join the group.

Posted in: Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Photo of the Week: One Step Ahead , ,

Visualizing Globalization 2.0

Top: Istanbul airlifted to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro; Bottom: São Paulo set in Cappadocia Imagine this: you’re walking down a side street in Midtown Manhattan and turn onto Fifth Avenue, facing uptown. But there, instead of the void of sky that usually greets the vista north toward Central Park, a massive mountain blocks […]

Photos of the Week: Late-Night Faces

Found at a whiskey bar in Tokyo, reading “Lolita” Restaurant chef seen through sake bottles, Tokyo Both of this week’s photos were taken by Clinton Watkins. Every week, we feature striking images from our Urbanphoto group on Flickr. Want to see your photos here? Join the group.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Photos of the Week: Late-Night Faces , ,

Tokyo, Two Weeks After the Earthquake

March 2011 I arrive in Tokyo on a clear, crisp afternoon. As my train makes brisk progress from Narita Airport to the city centre, I stare out the window at the country fields giving way to suburbia and then a densely crammed cityscape. The city seems calm. Kids run freely through an asphalt schoolyard. Uniformed […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Tokyo, Two Weeks After the Earthquake , , , ,

Tokyo Vending Machines

It’s a huge cliché, but how could I resist?

Tokyo’s Urban Bungalows

One of the greatest surprises I encountered when I visited Tokyo last spring was how quiet the city became when you ventured away from the train stations. The above photos were taken less than 15 minutes by foot from Shinjuku, one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs and the centre of a huge business, entertainment […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Tokyo’s Urban Bungalows , , , ,

Recovery by Design

Photo by the Swiss Red Cross The violence of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on March 11th was shocking enough, but what followed was almost unimaginable. Thirty minutes after the quake, a massive tsunami swept through the northeastern Tohoku region with waves up to 120 feet high. Entire towns were crushed and swept away. […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Recovery by Design , , , , ,

The Masked Metropolis

Why do so many Japanese people wear masks? The question became stuck in my mind almost as soon as I arrived in Tokyo late last month. Everywhere I went, on the streets and in trains, nearly half of the people around me were wearing surgical masks. I already knew part of the answer: people wear […]

Saturday Night at Shin-Okubo Station

Saturday, March 26th at Shin-Okubo Station Last Saturday, two weeks after the Japanese earthquake, I found myself in Tokyo. I was on assignment for a Canadian magazine — more about that on a later date — and I spent much of my time wandering the city and speaking to people, trying to get a feel […]

Tokyo Serenity: Naka-Meguro

Whether surfacing, globetrotting, or merely in transit, it’s best never fully to trust the travel section. Take Tokyo, where over the last few years a number of writers have labored to portray the southwestern neighborhood of Naka-Meguro as tragically hip. Descending from Naka-Meguro’s elevated subway station into a quotidian landscape of utilitarian shops and services, […]

Backstreets of Ginza

In Ginza, it seems almost as if Japan tucks its true self out of view. Sure, the row of colorful, vertical signs advertising the largely upscale shops and services along the district’s main drags echo similar scenes all over the country, but the façades (and often stores) they’re attached to are too cold and modern […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, History by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Backstreets of Ginza , , , ,

Tokyo Façade Frivolity

The curve of a closed eyelid, the outline of a nose, an unmistakable set of lips: enough to discern the outline of a singer, covering, along with the notes floating up from her mouth, almost all of a multistory building in Akasaka. Halfway across Tokyo, a family of turtles somehow scales the vertical wall of […]