Maybe you have seen this already? Comic artist Shu Kuge made this map showing how the ocean connects Tokyo and San Francisco. For my first business website thirteen years ago, Shu drew a very memorable office map and staff avatars. I am lucky that he has created something new for Social Models, my new design research studio that is co-located in these two great port cities.
Recently I conducted a kids art workshop at Shibaura’s public elementary school. The free event was organized by Mitsui Fudosan, Recruit, and Neighbors Meeting, which printed this cool map of Shibaura. We asked kids to draw an animal or plant and add it to the map.
There were several surprises. Many of the kids who participated were two to four years old. They loved the coloring book of land and sea creatures created by Shu Kuge. On the Shibaura map, the kids were drawn to the water, both Tokyo Bay and the canals, as well as to the existing parks. One kid made his own Tokyo Tower and folded it so that it would stand vertically.
The other surprise is that kids still enjoy coloring and drawing. The event was billed as a celebration of future city, and our workshop competed for attention with a very cool pedal powered, ride-on-top shinkansen, a 3D printer, solar-powered remote control cars, and iPad games.
Last month Australia’s smlwrld‘s Bianca and Lucas invited me to go with them on a walking adventure in Shibaura. They took some great photos and wrote up a post calling Shibaura “an infrastructure theme park.”
I’d only been once before, drawn to see the new cultural space Shibaura House. This second time, in addition to stopping back at Shibaura House, we explored the neighborhood and were stunned by the mix of uses being made of these small man-made islands criss-crossed with canals.
There are many water works facilities, a giant incinerator, docks for shipping and at least one re-purposed warehouse named Tabloid, offices from the 70s and 80s, newer apartment towers, industrial buildings, a cement factory, elevated monorail, and the base of the Rainbow Bridge. The top photo shows party boats and a fishing boat, alongside offices and residences.
The water works facilities include sludge, sewage, treatment, and pumping. It seems like most of Tokyo’s plumbing ends up being processed and then released into Tokyo Bay in Shibaura. It’s something to think of when using a sink or toilet, or imagining what happens to the sewers during a heavy rainstorm. Below is a map showing five water work facilities.
I like how on this very official map, someone has written “これ？” (here?) with an arrow pointing to the giant round entrance ramp to Rainbow Bridge. I’ll post more photos in the coming days from this walk.
My friend Matt sent me this intricate sakura weather map: it shows the updated forecast for the start of cherry blossoms across the Japanese archipelago. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it’s impressive to see how much weather forecasting amplifies cherry blossom season.
Today I also heard from Twitter’s @Matt_Alt that there are big signs at Inokashira park Big asking visitors to refrain from holding cherry blossom viewing parties there. This is one of Tokyo’s most famous parks, and one of the most popular places for young people to celebrate spring with all night and all day drinking parties.
It’s now just over two weeks after the horrific natural and man-made disaster that began with the East Japan great earthquake. With looming energy shortages, national mourning for the dead, and continued fears about nuclear fallout, Tokyo life will not be the same. Yet it is still impossible to fully know what will emerge in the coming months and years.
Will these events increase or reverse Japan’s hyper-urbanization? How will people respond to new concerns about food and water safety? Can the government and industry regain trust and provide leadership? How can civil society contribute to rebuilding the country and restoring Japan’s international reputation?
And can public spaces and local businesses flourish in a time of anxiety and uncertainty?
Using photos, pens, markers, origami, and other stuff, 30 participants drew a giant collaborative map of Tokyo’s existing and imagined green spaces. In this interactive version, Chris shows off the final map, which was two by four meters, with detailed images of 46 spaces.
Beyond our initial ideas, the collaborative map produced a huge variety of green spaces at many different scales, all of which make or could make Tokyo a livable city. We are planning to further document this mapping workshop, including other layers and voices, and we’d like to share it with a wide audience. Please feel free to link to it, leave comments, and share with others.
In today’s sweltering heat, my Tokyo DIY Gardening co-instigator Chris Berthelsen and 3331 Arts Chiyoda‘s Emma Ota documented the giant green city map created in the art center workshop two weeks ago.
It’s always inspiring to work with Chris, who is full of creative ideas and the energy to realize them. He’s already shared one small portion of the presentation: a model of the personal impact of urban green space. We will be sharing various slices of the green map once we’ve sorted out the images.
The map itself is two meters by four meters, and made of standard A4 papers taped together. The thirty participants included a school child, musicians, ceramicists, textile buyer, real estate developer, architect, arts administrator, senior citizens, and some random people who were walking by.
They used a mix of images we provided, plus blue string, markers, pens and things they brought, to create collages of urban green spaces that they knew or wanted. They also wrote down project ideas on small forms embedded in the map. Here’s images from the workshop.
Chris and I are eager to share these images and stories with you soon. Here’s some photos on the 3331 Arts Chiyoda website.
Thanks to the 30 people who participated in the Tokyo DIY Gardening workshop last night at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. We created an enormous collage map and shared interesting stories and images of Tokyo’s wonderful green spaces, existing and imagined. A big thanks to Chris Berthelsen for conceiving, preparing and motivating this participatory project. We’ll digitize the 4 meter by 2 meter map and post about it soon.
This post is about park signage, with images of hand-drawn and printed signs outside the 3331 Arts Chiyoda park. Alongside a lawn and some shade trees, the front park includes a rose garden with several varieties. I found it interesting that the map of the rose types was so ad hoc and temporary: written on paper and affixed with metal clips.
This very informal sign contrasts with a more typical sign found in Tokyo parks. Using child-like manga, the sign details the many forbidden activities.
Perhaps the most interesting warning is 「他人の迷惑になる行為はやめましょう」。Let’s not do anything that will disturb other people, below an image of baseball players. I am struck by how the image is so specific and the warning is so open to any interpretation. It invites the reader to imagine just how many possible actions could bother other people.
I read Richard Florida’s 2008 Who’s YOUR City? book, a “self-help” book about the central importance of where we live and the outsized opportunities in the world’s leading mega-cities. Drawing from Jane Jacobs and a wealth of statistics, Florida analyzes how the world has become “spiky” with concentrations of innovation and economic activity in mega-regions. Despite globalization and technology, place has become ever more important for individual happiness and economic growth.
For individuals, Florida argues that the choice of where to live is the biggest factor in our lives, happiness and communities. And for urban leaders, his writing and consulting describes how to become a magnet for the creative class and economic growth by promoting the arts, tolerance, talent and technology.
Tokyo is the largest mega-region, with 55 million people, and appears to far exceed all other mega-regions in the innovation map below. There are many other interesting maps on his website, although heavily focused on the United States and Canada.
Since Florida is increasingly focused on sustainable urban living, it would be interesting if he can correlate urban plant and biodiversity levels with human happiness and economic activity. Somehow I imagine this is a topic he will be investigating soon.