Wednesday, January 12, 2011
In the city of the future
...it is difficult to concentrate. For someone born and raised in a very beautiful but still quite marginal periphery of Europe, the modern Tokyo seems like a city of tomorrow. Not everything here is perfect, obviously, but for the most part it's a relatively clean, well-organised, safe and truly exciting place. Also very different from some big metropolises of the Old Continent I've visited, since it combines the all-around comforts of technology and state of the art urbanisation with traditional elements of Japanese culture and popculture. So next to the tallest glass towers there are some small wooden temples snoozing quietly in lovely parks with fish-filled ponds. Just a few steps after the biggest crossing with six-lane multilevel streets, five different pedestrian bridges and ten lines of metro, monorail and regular train intersecting above and below, you can stumble upon a narrow picturesque street with traditional small stores, ramen shops and stalls selling all kinds of stuff. Tokyo is a delightful city of many colorful contrasts.
At times, however, it can be somewhat depressing. In this ocean of people, wealth, fashions and success you can painfully see how small, unnecessary, insignificant and imperfect you are. And the everlasting loneliness is multiplied by all the passers-by you want to talk to or touch but you can't... by all the places you want to go but don't have time... by all the things you want to have but can't afford. And you miss your previous life back in Europe, your friends and loved ones, your favourite places and drinks but you grow apart and they start to be just memories, fading away each day. But than you realise that you can't really replace them here with anything new because of this perpetual loneliness and isolation. Finally, you find yourself suspended in this dream world, not wanting to go back home but also not having anything to look forward to or even relate in to this surrealism. Maybe it's the language, maybe the mentality, maybe the stereotypes or fear of rejection but it's so hard to really integrate and finally feel secure, valuable. Only the everyday obligations like school or work can keep you in touch with reality but kind of suffocate you at the same time, which doesn't help in the long run.
Tokyo is neither an utopia nor a dystopia, it's just a few years ahead of the world I'm used to. It's definitely not a soulless concrete giant like some like to depict it. Even though it sometimes tends to bring up some gloomy feelings, I got to like it a lot, but it's more of an addiction by now. Still being in one of the biggest, if not the biggest city in the world gives me some satisfaction. And I'm not done exploring it yet. Linked to this post you can find some pictures I took all around Tokyo that I think correspond to it's futuristic, astonishing nature. But mostly they are just random. They show the most impressive commercial and business districts of Shinjuku and Chuo (both alternatively considered de facto city centres) but also some more obscure places visited with my friends. Enjoy... and check out the Radioheads.