An exemplary textual guide to Tokyo, presented by French architect and writer Manuel Tardits, a long-time resident of the Japanese capital, this book is useful to both the amateur or the professional architect or planner. It offers insight by way of academic curiosity, historical anecdotes, cultural multiplicities and incomprehensibilities, anthropological distractions, and confrontations with the sheer density of urban data for which the metropolis is infamous.
Illustrated by both architect Stéphane Lagré and artist Nobumasa Takahashi, it lends a fascinating new look at Japanese and urban culture through the context of this sometimes bewildering and mystical city.
In Japan, where the 'unfolding of a route', consecrated in the idea of michiyuki, is so strongly imprinted on spatial culture, the selection of Tokyo as home base, and sharing the exploit, required a plan.
French architect and writer, Manuel Tardits, longtime resident of the Japanese capital, has proceeded with characteristic rigor and élan:
Step One: An initial academic curiosity rules, in response to a new and different way of thinking about the city itself. Great cities of both East and West have always balanced master plans against a patchwork of districts exposing divers styles and time frames. By contrast, Tokyo as other offers a palimpsest.
Step Two: Is it even possible to understand, the multitude of cultural bias such a metropolis presents? Or will Tokyo remain, instead, like Loti’s Madam Chrysanthemum, a succession of in- comprehensibilities: apparent shamelessness, nakedness, a city of infinite patience and yet one of virtual pornography and dis- order?
Step Three: The anthropologist takes hold, a roving eye in the city, whose fundamental aim is to study each subtle mechanism behind an urbanism so different from our preconceptions. And to that end, he explores and is even willing to lose his bearings. Final Step: Tardits treasures the freshness of an initial and astonished encounter with this overcrowded city. Stepping back, he plots for the reader a persistent outline amid a myriad of ephemeral urban data– one endowed with a new sense.