Welcome back! The original volume of The Tokyo Project was a detailed look at the role of transit oriented development as a primary influence on Tokyo’s urbanism. It was such a great learning experience and communication opportunity that I thought a second round was in order. While the original volume specifically highlighted public transit as a framework on which to create meaningful and multimodal communities, this follow up installment is a deep dive into the street culture of the neighborhoods themselves, and will include more emphasis on the interests and neighborhood shaping power of the business cooperatives that usually manage local shopping districts.
Great transit can only be great when it connects the kinds of places people want to live, work and just be. Transit is still an important part of this new collection of photos and essays, but is integrated into each neighborhood exploration rather than standing on its own. To fully appreciate a city like Tokyo, it is helpful to consider individual components but then step back to see all of them as the system of systems they comprise, influencing and interacting with each other in complex ways.
The other main distinction of this second volume is the selection of locations. The original volume contains many places that I either knew well or researched enough in advance to know that they were target rich environments for photography, video and stories. This time I’ve gone farther afield, further away from the multiple commercial nodes around the Yamanote Line, in many cases exploring unfamiliar territory for the first time. There are a few repeat neighborhoods, but in each case I’ve made a point to visit at a different time of day and will emphasize aspects not covered in earlier posts.
When I published the original volume, I was still based in the United States and in the early stage of creating my own consulting service. I had several pathways I was considering, but at its core was the idea of facilitated community engagement regarding urban development and environment issues that utilized rich content and social media to compliment traditional (and not always very successful) means of public participation in planning discussions. I’ve since relocated with my family to China, where neither unfettered media nor organized community groups are enthusiastically endorsed by the powers that be. There are still many opportunities to document and analyze the impacts on people and the environment caused by the massive shifts in the physical development of cities here, so while my original idea may be difficult to execute, I think there are plenty of adjacent areas into which I could fit. Meanwhile, Japan is now just a short flight away, opening the door for periodic travel and project based work. My one to five year goals include building more ties to what’s going on in Japan’s cities, with the intention to move and work full time there at some point during my career. Consider this collection of works as a renewed affirmation that, regardless of wherever I happen to be located, part of me will probably always be in Tokyo.
As before, to follow the project you can either subscribe to the blog directly via RSS (upper right corner), bookmark this page and check back as the list below becomes a linked table of contents, or connect via Twitter for updates at @mjvito (日本語: @michaelvito_jp).
The Tokyo Project, Volume 2
- Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai
- Asagaya Pearl Center Shotengai
- Futaba in Ogikubo
- Taishoken in Eifukucho
- Walk from Hikifune to Sanya
- Irohakai Shotengai in Sanya
- Joyful Minowa Shotengai in Minowabashi, Session 2
- Yanaka Ginza Shotengai in Nippori
- Tanaka Shoten in Hitotsuya
- Ikaruga in Kudanshita
- Shimokitazawa, Session 2
- Ivan Ramen Plus in Kyodo
- Ramen Jiro in Mita
- Muteppo in Nakano
- Musashikoyama Palm Shotengai, Session 2
- Togoshi Ginza Shotengai, Session 2
- Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi 2014
- Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori 2014
- The Tokyo Project, Volume 2: Epilogue
Here is a small set of highlights to kick things off. These images will all appear again as I complete pieces for each neighborhood or place, which I’ve begun diving into with gusto. Welcome back to The Tokyo Project.