Archives for posts with tag: urban life

We already passed the mark of an urban planet: more people are living in cities than on the countryside. If change is to come, it must happen in cities. Yet the common tide is high, and inertia is strong.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga directions
This episode concludes a chapter that saw Tokyo moving us, through an astonishing spiritual diversity, distinct neighborhoods, living traditions on the streets, unexpectedly rewarding sights and curious encounters. At this point, movement itself turns out to become difficult, though. Gaining perspective makes hungry for more, yet directions aren’t easy to figure out in a maze of contrasts, overflowing options and paths.

So I invite you to stay tuned for the following chapter leading you into the next level of urban discovery: patterns of a labyrinth commonly known as Tokyo. (tbc)

While some were right about Tokyo becoming a precious place to me, most were wrong about the specific reasons. The supposed heaven for manga freaks did nothing but make me go away. Ikebukuro was different.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga Ikebukuro chameleon cat
It’s not one of the famed neighborhoods, and from what I’ve heard it’s not all too well seen, with its subcultures and rough atmosphere.

If the chameleon cat I met there needed a name, I’d probably call it Makoto. You don’t need to watch the related dorama to agree: feisty cat or delinquent fella, whoever deeply loves his hometown is truly entitled to shout out this feeling… Ikebukuro is the best, 池袋最高! (tbc)

*Ikebukuro West Gate Park is one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen, it unites everything I like: from urban Hip Hop subculture to a charming delinquent neighborhood with its stupid-handsome heroes. I’m seriously thinking about translating this kind of story to the setting of Berlin. Somehow, sometime.*

Have you ever seen a concrete ocean falling asleep?

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga true reward
To watch that happen on a warm summer night at the Sumida River, indulging in another cheap, super delicious street bento… is just priceless. (tbc)

With new impulses and ideas flowing in these days, my webcomic gets another dimension to me. It reminds me to take one step after another, not leaving things out.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga timeless dance Otsuka
Yesterday, my Japanese tandem partner asked me what my favorite travel was. Right now the answer would be Japan, but that’s a moment in time, and time evolves.

The travel goes on. (tbc)

From the places I’ve seen in Tokyo, this neighborhood made me think most of a “Kiez”, which in Berlin doesn’t only mean the area where you live, but the places and corners where you feel at home.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga distant yet familiar shimokitazawa
Laid-back atmospheres are contagious. If the cozy dinner chitchat in episode 12 made me think I should come  back to Japan, Shimokita helped me to figure out where I’d first search for a place to stay. (tbc)

*For German-speaking readers: the SPIEGEL article that called my attention in 2010 points out some more parallels between Shimokitazawa and similar areas in Berlin.*

When the sheer density of built space becomes overwhelming, it’s time to remember.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga religions
It’s this density that makes the city so diverse at every step, in Ochanomizu or elsewhere. (tbc)

*No matter how loud the noise around, focus on that piece of framed sky in the last, the Confucian temple. This is where it gets all silent. And no matter how fast everything moves, here is where you can make it come to a stop.*

One of my favorite remembrances of Tokyo is getting back home and being welcomed by unexpected guests at the dinner table.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga faces
No matter how surreal some of our chitchat has been: that night, I really felt at home in Tokyo. This is where I decided that sooner or later, I’d have to come back to Japan. (tbc)

*This episode of my Tokyo comic series concludes the second of its six chapters. The first (#1-6) was about approaching the city, this second about encounters. The next episodes (#13-18) will show you how Tokyo moves, in many ways.*

My friend surely doesn’t stick to Japanese conventions and ideals: The young, Capoeira loving mom traveled a lot and has already been living outside the country for a long time. But whenever I’m asking questions, she tries to explain, to clear things up from a local perspective.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga Sacrifice
Time and time again I found Japanese storytelling profoundly touching because it doesn’t shy away from painful topics. Some of my favorite Japanese books and movies treat “death” and “loss” in ways that equally hurt and console: treating a topic like treating a wound, then. (tbc)

*The next episode of my Tokyo comic series appears on Thursday. By now, you have seen my friend and her parents, the latter in episodes #10 and #11. Next comes an encounter with the cousins.*

A weekend excursion to the Pacific coast brought about some deep reflections on cultural expectations and values.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga Pacific timeout
Of course, some sake had helped to get and to keep our conversational flow going. Yet I had to wonder: What was the reason for this profoundly different conception of a worthwhile personal sacrifice, shining through the widow’s speech? (tbc)

*The next episode of my Tokyo comic series appears on Tuesday. It will deal with the more fundamental riddle exposed here.*

Having lived in Berlin for years, my friend knows both her native Japanese and German culture. She translated a lot to me, making sense far beyond mere word meanings.

Tokyo Mosaic urban manga awareness
An urban mosaic gradually takes form, and what drives you to gather further pieces is not its debatable beauty: It’s the curiosity to know more.

*Every now and then, Akemi helped me to switch to a local perspective that helped me to focus and dive deeper.* (tbc)