A Day Around the Yamanote Line

JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station Tokyo doesn’t really have a single discernible center. Most of the metropolis’ characteristic clusters of lighted advertisements and overloaded sidewalks — Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, and (at Tokyo Station) Ginza — are strung together along the circular Yamanote Line, a Japan Railways loop that calls at the […]

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When the Streets Were Swept by Hand

In most cities of the developed world, mechanical street sweepers are a fact of life. Even New York’s carless commuters are fluent in strategies to use on “alternate-side parking days,” when the scheduled passing of a street sweeper forces all of a block’s parked cars to one side of the street. It’s easy to forget […]

Two Stories Over Tokyo

Shinjuku Ginza Tokyo defines concrete jungle: over 2,000 square kilometers of closely-packed, largely monochrome buildings set amid a tangle of clogged, winding roads, elevated highways, rail lines, and telephone wires. For many who are lost amid the ceaseless forward march of its sidewalks and churning perambulations in the corridors of its vast train stations, cafes […]

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Look Behind You

Naka-Meguro, Tokyo

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Waiting to Cross the Street

Shinjuku, Tokyo Robson Street, Vancouver East Village, New York

Public Sex and Peeping Toms

Kohei Yoshiyuki was walking through a Tokyo park one night in the early 1970s when he noticed people having sex in the bushes. Then he noticed people spying on the people having sex. That must have been when he decided to get his camera. Using infrared film and flash, Yoshiyuki followed and surreptitiously photographed the […]

Tokyo Hypnosis

[youtube]rU6Pglj6xuA[/youtube] Tokyo is trippy enough, but Chris Jongkind’s videos of its vast rail network takes its surreality to another level entirely. The right adjective here would be “serpentine” as we watch trains slide effortlessly through the urban underbrush of the world’s largest city. For what it’s worth, Jongkind’s photos are even better.

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Naoya Hatakeyama’s Urban Illusions

Tobu World Square’s model of New York. Photo by Naoya Hatakeyama When I was a kid, my grandparents would take me on vacation to Victoria, BC. The highlight of the trip—for me, at least—was always a visit to Miniature World, an odd little museum tucked into the north wing of the Empress Hotel. There, I […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Canada, United States by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Naoya Hatakeyama’s Urban Illusions , , , , , ,

In Tokyo, New Clothes Let You Wear the City

Today’s New York Times includes an article on the efforts of Aya Tsukioka, an “experimental fashion designer,” to allay Japan’s growing fears about street crime by creating a new line of clothes and accessories that double as urban camouflage. In a moment of panic, you can transform your dress into a vending machine, your backpack […]

Finding the Light in Tokyo

On my last trip to Tokyo I could not help but remember how important it was when living there to choose an apartment with sufficient light — something I now take for granted since I moved to Los Angeles. When I first moved to Tokyo, I looked at an apartment in the building on the […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Interior Space by Donal Hanley Comments Off on Finding the Light in Tokyo ,

Filling Tokyo Space with Tiny Houses

When he wrote earlier this year about the “two faces” of Tokyo, our contributor Siqi Zhu noted that, in Japan’s capital, “weak eminent domain laws have resulted in years of piecemeal development and an incredibly fine-grained urban fabric.” This is unlike many other cities in the developed world where government agencies eagerly expropriate land for […]

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Typographic Tokyo

Korean snack stand in Tokyo. Photo by Yohei Morita My wife and I lived in Tokyo from 1992 till 1998. We spent a week here in 2000 and I am now back here for a week in 2007. It is a tantalising experience—it seems familiar in so many ways and yet subtly different, like a […]

One City, Two Faces: Roppongi Hills

The geography of Tokyo can be read into as a metaphor for its social stratification. There are the lowly pockets of Shitamachi, or the Low City, that lie on the literally low flood plains closer to the shore and the rivers. West of here are the few rarified districts of the Yamanote, a name that […]

One City, Two Faces: Tsukiji Market

The hardest thing for me as a kid growing up in the vastness of suburban Tokyo was to imagine a place different from my own—I was merely one amongst the tens of millions who lived on lands far from the city centre and dominated by the postwar glass-and-concrete aesthetic, and who, via Tokyo’s impeccably efficient […]