identity

“Do You Really Like Living Here?” A Foreigner’s Perspective on Tokyo

Huffington Post published the English version of my article, “‘Do You Really Like Living Here?’ A Foreigner’s Perspective on Tokyo.

“Do you really like living in Tokyo?” is a question I am often asked here. Despite living in Tokyo for two years now, I cannot discern if this question expresses national modesty, a sense of inferiority, or ignorance of the experience of daily life in the United States.

. . .

Read the full article on Huffington Post. It was originally published in Japanese by Newsweek Japan under the title, それでも外国人が東京暮らしを愛する理由 (Despite that, why foreigners enjoy Tokyo living) on October 28, 2010.

Marui department store brands itself with plants

Marui's plant walls in subway passage

Several months ago Marui opened up another department store in Shinjuku san chome, along with at least three other existing ones and retail competition that includes Isetan’s flagship across the street. It is interesting that one of its defining design themes is green space. If you arrive by Tokyo Metro, you can see strips of living plant walls in the underground passageway.

Marui at night, Shinjuku

At the street level, Marui created large gardens more than a meter wide along the sidewalk with trees, bushes and grasses. This provides an unexpected burst of plant life in an area otherwise paved and overflowing with signage and people.

Marui green brand

Marui even uses low light plants in indoor merchandising. It feels like a coherent and unique brand identity extending from outside to inside the retail space. Unfortunately some of the indoor “plants” are plastic, including faux vines above the first floor selling area, but not everyone notices.

Marui green wall

In the photo above you can see how the subway level green wall is a modular system, allowing easy replacement of plants. It’s great to see a retail company standing out by providing plants and gardens to passer-bys as well as shoppers.

Feria nightclub in Roppongi

Feria nightclub in Roppongi

A friend guided me to an amazing green wall outside Feria, a nightclub in Roppongi, in a small alley across from Midtown. Climbing the entire front facade, this four story vertical garden is densely planted and lush. I was told that it’s about three years old.

Here’s an image of the context.

Feria nightclub in Roppongi

And lastly the view from the street.

Feria nightclub in Roppongi

Feria’s website shows how cool the vertical garden looks illuminated at night. I am intrigued that the vertical garden is the core element of the nightclub’s visual identity, in person and online.

Feria nightclub, night view, from website