TOKYO, MON AMOUR …

We’re back in Tokyo for the better part of a couple of weeks. There’s always lots to do and see here, and always lots of people to meet and catch up with. October is an ideal month to be in the Japanese capital. It’s not so cool yet that you always need a jacket and not so warm that the humidity turns you into a sweaty mess within seconds of stepping outdoors. Tokyo is one of our favorite places on the planet. Years ago we thought up the idea of Tokyo being what we call “The Impossible City.” The combination of its hyper-dense, cheek-by-jowl urban living and gargantuan, seemingly endless sprawl (imagine New York’s vertical cityscape spread out across an area bigger than Greater Los Angeles), made it virtually “impossible” for a person to fully absorb and experience, even for those who have spent a lifetime here. Instead, there are many Tokyos, a dozen “cities” glommed together and interwoven over time into an incredible, vast logical whole like galaxies collided. Yet in spite of this scale and complexity, in spite of massive skyscrapers and crowding, Tokyo is an extremely livable city that at the local street level is built very much for human scale, with a lot of the urban landscape’s functional interface designed with consideration for the nuances of Japanese style and civility. The city is urbane to the extreme, but possesses a casual sophistication and attentiveness to aesthetics. This of course is largely a byproduct of Japanese culture itself, but also due to its massive population and its status as the nation’s capital. As such, Tokyo is a massive draw for a large international community of business people, diplomats, academics, and a creative class, not to mention a mass of financial capital. (All this reminds us of this beautiful song by Pizzicato Five titled “Tokyo, Mon Amour” that nails the mood of the city.)