The Next City
“When Tokyo Was a Slum
MATIAS ECHANOVE & RAHUL SRIVASTAVA. Aug 1, 2013
First-time visitors to Tokyo may arrive with one of two fantasies dancing in their heads. One is the hyper-modern city of sleek 100-story high-rises and gleaming starchitecture. The other is the darker version: The city that inspired Blade Runner and Akira, a super-dense, technology-saturated metropolis in which Manga faces on towering billboards grin down on shootouts and chase scenes.
And why shouldn’t they? Such imagery, after all, speaks to a world-class city. But the fuel that powers the Tokyo economy looks, in large part, far less cinematic. Newcomers may be shocked to find that much of residential Tokyo actually resembles the low-rise, high-density habitats one normally associates with cities like Mumbai and Manila. Alongside the futuristic visage of skyscraper Tokyo, a human-scale city lies along rambling roads, where mom-and-pop stores sell soap and sandals, and private homes double as independent shops engaged in local trades like printmaking and woodworking.
Photo: Karen Chan 16 on Flickr