Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2014

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Deep Topography

In a connected chain of events which began with me spending time in London last week, coming back to Tokyo and watching a documentary on the England’s capital city called The London Perambulator I discovered Deep Topography, also known as Psychogeography or Cryptoforestry. The documentary follows an eccentric English writer and researcher called Nick Papadimitriou as he goes on a series of what he refers to as his ‘Long Walks’. These can last anywhere between one hour and a full day, and often take place in one of Nick’s preferred locales, almost always on the suburbs, fringes and hinterlands of London. The preoccupation of deep topography is not with finding conventional beauty in and around our built environments but with deriving stimulation from appreciating the overlooked and anonymous corners of our cities and examining the functional areas where mankind, nature, and necessity overlap.

It was through this documentary that I came to understand why I find Tokyo to be so stimulating and rewarding as a place to live and explore. For those who have become deluded with the beaten track of the world’s maintream heritage sites and historical architecture, Tokyo provides a veritable goldmine of deep topographical rapture, providing you are prepared to get lost in its streets.

If you have the opportunity, I seriously recommend seeing the documentary as it also features Will Self and Iain Sinclair. Next time you’re out with your camera taking pictures of bleak industrial landscapes, water treatment works or unremarkable suburban vistas you might feel vindicated.

 

Only-in-Japan Scooters and Motorbikes

One thing I didn’t know about before coming to Japan, was just how many appliances, cars etc. are Japan only. The coolest of the bunch has to be the elongated bikes the bosouzoku wannabes and cool couples roll around on. I’ve managed to get a few pictures of bikes like these over the last few weeks.

Only-in-Japan Scooters and Motorbikes

You often see tiny girls in Shibuya tearing down side streets on bikes like this. It’s pretty amazing the way they handle them.

Only-in-Japan Scooters and Motorbikes

They’re definitely much larger than anything of this kind in the UK, and they’re often very loud, and sound maybe like some of them are extremely powerful, with a deep, slow-revving engine noise. Of course, people supe them up to no end, attching neons, mirrors and additional speakers, etc.

Only-in-Japan Scooters and Motorbikes

Actually, I really want one. I don’t have a Japanese driving license at the moment, but once I’ve been here a little longer, I’ve got to make it happen!

Only-in-Japan Scooters and Motorbikes

I mean, how cool is this red one, with someone’s tag scrawled on the front wing? Slightly reminiscent of Akira I would say. The whole fashion surrounding these bikes relates to the impression I get that somehow, Tokyo and motorbikes are inextricably linked.

 

Tour de Tokyo

I’m not a keen cyclist, but sometimes you’ve just got to get your bike from point A to point B. The problem was, point A was really, really far from point B. My journey took me past famous spots like Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya (I crossed the main crossing in front of Shibuya 109 on my mamachari!), and Meguro. Nice ride!