Archives for posts with tag: japan

ginza dori

Tokyo’s Ginza district has the distinction of being Tokyo’s original upmarket shopping destination, some of the most expensive real estate in the world, the first to feature electric street lighting, the first with modern department stores, the first with stores that allowed customers to wear shoes inside the premises, the first to host luxury European brands. During Japan’s golden ’bubble’ years Ginza was the city’s glitzy playground, its stores raking in phenomenal earnings from cashed up citizens.

Times, though, have changed.

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snow city

This winter’s first snowfall came a little early, spoiling the party for many a twenty-year-old dressed up to celebrate their coming of age on 成人の日 (seijin no hi).

While parts of Japan are famous for the quality of their powder snow, snow in the city of Tokyo is not that common and when it does fall, there isn’t usually that much of it. Yesterday, though, the kanto area was, according to news reports, blanketed with some 40 centimetres of the stuff.

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Prada Epicenter

This year, mapp : : tokyo has been busily snapping scenes on the streets of Tokyo to publish on our instagram/mapptokyo stream. Many other talented photographers have also been publishing their visions of Tokyo and beyond to their preferred online services.

In the spirit of end of year ’best of’ lists, and in spite of the recent controversy Instagram has generated, mapp : : tokyo revisits a year of Instagram photos and highlights some of our favorite Japanese photographers.

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With the previous post, tokyo’s yamanote line, mapp : : tokyo published its 100th post. It’s a milestone worth reflecting on – an indulgence, I know, but I’ll make it short.

This blog actually began as an idea for an iOS app, but for various reasons, it morphed into a website that is part magazine, part travel guide, part cultural anthropology and part tribute to one of the world’s great cities, publishing new content on Japanese culture, design and media on a weekly basis, creating a digital tapestry of – as the blurb says – cool stuff in Tokyo and Japan.

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As the world now knows, on Friday 11 March, the forces of nature conspired to wreak havoc on Japan’s main island of Honshu. A nation known for its technological prowess, the stoicism and legendary work ethic of its gentle-natured people and a strong sense of community and social obligation is testing the limits of all these areas in ways unimagined as the Japanese grapple with the aftermath of one of the strongest earthquakes on record and the effects of the subsequent tsunami that wiped out entire regions and populations on Honshu’s north-east coast and has left the nation facing a possible unthinkable nuclear scenario.

This is a time of heartbreaking stories and statistics, of dramatic news headlines, minor miracles and major acts of heroism and selflessness. While the nation’s engineering genius helped Japan avoid the destruction that the quake would’ve caused in other, lesser advanced technological countries, it’s the same technological wizardry that has ironically given the nation its most frightening crisis: a possible meltdown of one or more of its Fukushima nuclear reactors.

The nation’s vast financial resources together with its efficient systems and the typically generous assistance of the international community have helped the affected to better cope with their injuries, grief and displacement, but the Japanese are witnessing first hand mass devastation; food, water and gas rationing and shortages; power blackouts: things not seen since in this advanced nation since the war.

And yet, knowing the Japanese gambare spirit, it’s possible even in the current situation to believe that this nation will work harder than ever to overcome the tragic circumstances in which it finds itself; to pick up the pieces and put its cities and town right. For the lucky residents of Tokyo and Osaka, life continues almost as normal save for the regular seismic jolts, sporadic business closures and a more conservative use of lighting. For the rest of Honshu, things are vastly different. For them, this is a time for compassion and a time for optimism.

When events of this magnitude occur, life’s concerns are put into a more realistic perspective. For those of us who still have to contend with the stresses of work, the complaints of minor ailments or the inconveniences of blackouts and transport irregularities, we consider ourselves lucky. Recent lusty thoughts of new iPads and game consoles are now seen as absurd. Witnesses to the devastation north of Tokyo have said that words and even pictures don’t begin to convey the scale of what has happened on Honshu. Our hearts go out to those whose former lives have been shattered and we can’t begin to imagine the tragedy of the many, many lives lost. This is not a time for frivolity, for simplistic media analysis or for the superfluous.

We wish to express our deepest condolences for the lives lost; our sorrow for the lives shattered; our confidence in the Japanese authorities and people to overcome the current tragedy. We wish to announce that map : : tokyo will suspend regular posts on this site for a – hopefully brief – time.

This is a time for compassion and for optimism. It’s also a time for giving. The link below leads to information on donating to the Japanese Red Cross. Gambare nihon.

japan red cross society