School kids in a gaming trance on a station platform. Is this a “still city”?


昨年末から、オランダの「Still City」という東京についての研究とアートのプロジェクトに参加しています。「Still City」の主題は成長後の都市です。中学生たちが電車のホームでDSで遊んでいる写真は、静かな都市のイメージの一つだと思います。東京は巨大なのに、公共の場所は平穏です。安全なので、包括的です。

Since late last year, I’ve been involved with a research and art project called Still City, based in Amsterdam. Over 25 Dutch urbanists, designers, and artists came to Tokyo to create a guide book exploring the idea of Tokyo as a Still City. The main meaning of “still city” is post-growth.

This image of two school kids lost in a daze of handheld gaming on a train station platform also make me think of a still city. Tokyo is a “still” mega-city that is remarkably quiet despite the crowds of people, and with few exceptions, disarmingly safe. Tokyo is also a place where public functions, from transit and streets to bathing and swimming, are clean, efficient, and open to everyone.

Seoul’s transformation into livable city. Makes Tokyo look stunted.


In the past five years, Seoul has gone from one of East Asia’s ugliest mega-cities to one of its most livable and attractive. The transformation has been rapid. While I think Tokyo is often stunted by its autocratic government and urban planning, Seoul shows that East Asian cities can be dynamic and forward-looking.

On a visit last summer, I toured new city parks (the Cheonggyecheon river and Seonyudo island), visited art galleries, experienced the mix of old and cutting edge architecture, and met meta-designers, Seoul’s city brand manager, and a national environmental researcher.

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Mega-Cities syllabus for University of Tokyo


Several people have asked me about the syllabus for the Tokyo University graduate seminar I am teaching this summer. The course title is Mega-Cities: Design Anthropology and Urban Landscapes. You can download the syllabus here (86kb pdf). Please let me know what you think.

Teaching a graduate seminar at University of Tokyo

Starting tomorrow I will be teaching a graduate seminar at Tokyo University. The course title is “Mega-Cities: Design Anthropology and Urban Landscapes” in the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies. This master’s and PhD program is taught in English to foreign students, mostly from East Asia. I am very excited to see Tokyo through the students’ eyes. They will be closely observation urban life and documenting it online. My challenge to them is to connect experiential learning with history, comparative study, and theory.