The Roku Bar Intimate Dinning Experience by nim
April 7, 2009, 8:43 am
Filed under: City Studies, Group, People

Local pick number two saw us eat in this cosy little restaurant in the City. Once again the layout was quite tight and compact, and the group were nearly sitting on top of one another. But, once again, the whole experience worked for us. Chalk it down to the mellow lighting or maybe it was some numbing solution mixed within our green tea- the layout never felt uncomfortable. The restaurant was small; similar to the first one it would only sit around 25- 30 people max, infact the kitchen was only a few paces away from where we were sitting. But I guess the place was made bigger by the very nature of the way we sat on the floor close to one another- this enabled the interior aesthetic to take charge of our periphery; rather than it being cluttered by waves of people, more commonly associated with the mass dining experience. The food was good too (try the miso soup).


harry, chris, tom and mindy




Island Harumi by htkay
April 5, 2009, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Architecture, City Studies, Education, Tokyo



dsc057471All three of these scenes are found within the Harumi Island Triton Square, an office and residential complex consisting of three high rise towers, and one much shorter tower. The extreme juxtaposition of styles was entertaining rather than uncomfortable or bizarre.



Urban Renaissance by htkay
April 5, 2009, 7:15 am
Filed under: Architecture, City Studies, Development, Education, Tokyo

The Urban Renaissance Agency (UR) is working throughout Tokyo confronting social problems and problems that may arise in the future;

“Japan is currently faced with various new challenges that must be confronted in order to revive attractive and energetic cities in which people shine with joy”

As part of their presentation the UR took us to their presentation room at Harumi Triton Square which had a huge scale model of central Tokyo.



The model has taken three years to construct, and is a working progress as the development of Tokyo is ongoing

The model has taken three years to construct, and is a working progress as the development of Tokyo is ongoing


The UR revolves around its five ‘core factors’;

  1. Revival of “idle land” into multipurpose communities
  2. Creation of new bases for the upcoming generations in which people, products and culture are entwined
  3. Aiming for the realisation of safe cities that can withstand earthquakes and fire disasters
  4. Realisation of comfortable living with work and living spaces within close proximity
  5. Renew cities and lifestyles by reconstructing old housing


There are reclaimed islands in Tokyo Bay on which planning permission is being sought and final surveys are being carried out

There are reclaimed islands in Tokyo Bay on which planning permission is being sought and final surveys are being carried out



The UR presentation made sense of the apparent organised madness we had seen up to this point and was a brilliant way to start our week of exploring Tokyo.

More information on the UR and their five ‘core factors’ can be found at their website;




Spaces by htkay
April 5, 2009, 1:54 am
Filed under: Architecture, City Studies, People, Tokyo, Travel

We have only been through tokyo by coach and metro and have yet to delve  into the extreme density that we have only been able to see from the edge; catching the occasional glimpse past the surface of tightly packed apartment blocks, that continue into the distance, the concrete occasionally punctured by a rising skyscraper, a rebel in its material and shape.

These spaces between are intriguing as they look barely wide enough for a car to squeeze down, and grow dark compared to the glaring white of the facades on either side, and yet it seems these are the spaces that the floods of people in the main streets heading for the metro or train seem to appear from; like tributaries, but fixed to their grid and unable to erode away the square corners of Tokyo.


The edge is only penetrated by the smallest of cracks, click to enlarge

The reason for so much conformity is due to the rebuilding of Tokyo on a huge scale twice in the last century. First in 1923 after the Great Kanto Earthquake and second after the bombings in the second world war. Both times the prefab, concrete slab construction led to the styles as a necessity from the need for high density living spaces quickly.



the untouchable city by nim
April 4, 2009, 8:05 pm
Filed under: City Studies, Group, Tokyo, Travel


The “untouchables” refers to the vast majority of the Japanese population who have conformed to a lifestyle where you make as little contact as possible with the public realm i.e automatic doors, taps, toilet flushers, and the obvious mask culture. This mentality has more to do with respect for other citizens than it does with the fear of catching disease. The hand grips on the metro provide a possible exception to this rule; after all they are a complete necessity for a crowded train- you wouldn’t want to be bumping into other people as this would be disrespectful. Yet we hear so much about the potential for germs to be passed from hand to hand on these public rails. This would suggest a number of different plausible explanations: the trains are cleaned extensively, people’s hands are clean to begin with (so less harmful bacteria is passed from hand to rail), or perhaps the metro travelers simply understand that in order to maintain an atmosphere of respect and harmony, they must compensate their own well-being. If the later is true; this mentality is certainly an aspect of wabi sabi.