Planned community: Mejiro Cultural Village 目白文化村 (1922)

Originally posted on the tokyo files: urban design 東京の都市デザイン:
Mejiro Cultural Village 目白文化村 めじろぶんかむら was a luxury residential area (高級住宅街) said to be modeled after Beverly Hills (source). I will provide some of the general details, but if you are interested in the details of this development, I suggest you refer to the following website, which is…

Occupied Japan: The Kokura incident, “committing excesses”, and murder on the 4th of July 「黒地の絵」

This is the most difficult post I’ve written, not because the sources were difficult to locate (they were), but because the topics are painful and sensitive. I’ll cut to the chase: this post discusses murder, rape, and racism, three topics that, when handled poorly, can be offensive to many readers. With that in mind, please…

From train to tree: Golden Gai, Toden streetcar, and Shinjuku Promenade Park

Whenever I watch an old Japanese film. I see all these terrific scenes of old Tokyo and just have to know where they were filmed. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it isn’t. The other day I was watching a compelling yakuza movie,「無頼」より 大幹部 Burai yori daikanbu (1968), aka Outlaw: Gangster VIP. It stars Tetsuya Watari 渡 哲也, the handsome…

Satoko Kitahara, Maria of Ants Town 蟻の町のマリア

(1) Ants Villa and Mary of Ants Town This post is about a name and a place. The name is Satoko Kitahara 北原怜子  a.k.a. “Mary of Ants Town” (1929-1958). The place is 蟻の街, Ari-no-machi, meaning “Ants Villa”, “Ants Town”, “City of Ants”, etc. Ants Town was formed in the wake of World War 2 as a legal cooperative to house and…

“You in Tokyo” – THE NEW YORKER, 1946

The November 23, 1946 issue of The New Yorker ran an article by Helen Mears in their “Our far-flung correspondents” section. Titled “You in Tokyo“, the piece was named after a pamphlet given to new American arrivals that explained things like protocols, customs and recreational activities. Excerpt from You in Tokyo pamphlet, published by SCAP GHQ for civilian employees of…

A fishing village, then a Sky Tree mystery

Part I: the fishing village The existence of Tsukudajima 佃島 is no secret (map). The Japan Times has written about it (“Casting around in Tsukudajima“), bloggers write about it (佃島~島の名残り “Tsukudajima ~ island remnants”), and it’s easy to access from central Tokyo (it’s a 6-minute ride from Shiodome Station via the Oedo-line). Tsukudajima, until modern times, was a small…

Walking on water: the underground rivers of Tokyo 東京の地下河川や運河の地図

Underground rivers and streams course below the surface of Tokyo, making fascinating walking paths all across the city. The Tokyo Files is mapping pedestrian paths and “green roads” that follow the route of old rivers and streams. This is a travel guide to Tokyo’s rivers of the past.

Ad Balloons on the Ginza: Float, Young Advertisers! (1890-1989)

In 1890, an Englishman named Spencer jumped from a hot air balloon with a parachute in Tokyo’s Ueno park. His exploits would be memorialized by Kikugoro, a famous Kabuki actor. Advertising was a key element of Spencer’s act, and balloons would become used prominently in Japanese advertising throughout the 20th century.