Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Tokyo- Quotes about the Japanese capital

From Edo days until megapolis 

“No other capital has been devastated so often and so spectacularly in any national cinema [as Tokyo], from the gleeful abandon wrought by Godzilla…to the post-apocalyptic nightmares of Otomo Katsuhiro’s animated epic, Akira” Ian Luna, Tokyolife Art and Design pg 12

“More than any other city, Tokyo demonstrates that ‘city’ is a verb and not a noun” Mori Toshiko, Tokyolife Art and Design pg 7

“A Rockerfeller Center manque clad in a humorless variant of American corporate modernism” Tokyo Midtown according to Ian Luna, Tokyolife Art and Design pg 10

“Like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo looking for spare parts on the planet Xenon” The side streets of Akihabara, according to Peter Carey, Wrong about Japan pg 57

“In Tokyo one feels- as Henry James felt in London- that the city has no single style, only innumerable attempts at style” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“I sometimes wonder why the Japanese went to all the trouble of franchising a Disneyland in the suburbs when the capital itself is in many ways so superior a version” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“For the pedestrian foreigner, much of Tokyo’s frenetic carnival flavour is due to familiar things being used in unfamiliar ways. There is a kind of freedom in finding that Doric columns don’t mean banks, nor red roof tiles Spain. The feeling of being at liberty in Tokyo is occasioned by this ‘illiteracy’. There is no telling what anything means.” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“The city was proud of its fires, which were called Edo no Hana – and occured so frequently and burned so freely that no house in the low city could expect to last more than 2 decades”

This could perhaps explain how a culture that now means few houses survive more than two decades for other reasons developed. Edward Seidensticker in Low City High City

“The legend of Hachiko is amazing and depressing at the same time”Brian Flynn, Josh Bernard and Jeff Day in Tokyo Undergound

“It’s akin to the maddest Asian market you’ve ever been in, but instead of selling mangosteens they’re hawking manga and motherboards- and the sellers are not only pushy, theyre prerecorded” . “Denik Town”,Akihabara, Tokyo, as described in Lonely Planet Tokyo Encounter

“Full of Western-style shops so expensive that they seem to stock only one cardigan each. displayed on plinths in the middle of acres of space” Chuo-dori in Ginza, Tokyo, as described by Pete Brown in “Three Sheets to the Wind“, page 298

“Shibuya is a great place to start your trip, as it offers you a taste of every stereotype you could hope to see in Tokyo”Brian Flynn, Josh Bernard and Jeff Day in Tokyo Underground

“In Tokyo one feels- as Henry James felt in London- that the city has no single style, only innumerable attempts at style” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“…since seeking beauty in this city of Tokyo is useless, can it not be said that the most agreeable place to live is Asakusa, where ugliness bares its essential form?” Unfinished novel by Tanizaki, quoted by Donald Ritchie. Now more true of Kawasaki.

“Wandering in a smart Tokyo neighbourhood is like wandering in a box of Quality Street: everything is different, everything tastes the same” Donald Ritchie

“Londoners actually want to live in the suburbs where they have a bit of space, a spot of green…Tokyoites, however, want to live in Tokyo, always have, always will. For them the suburbs… and the long commute exist only because they cannot afford to live in crowded, expensive Tokyo” Donald Ritchie

“If the European street can be seen as something like a stage, the Japanese street is like a market. This is very Asian of it.” Donald Ritchie

“…the warren is preferred. It was seen (or felt) to be a proper human environment. The Japanese, like the English, prefer the cosy, and consequently the streets of new Tokyo are as crooked and twisting as those of old London” Donald Ritchie

“Each complex is a small town, and their numbers make up this enormous capital. Like cells in a body, each contains identical elements, and the resulting pattern is an organic one.” Donald Ritchie

“One feels about [Tokyo] as Alexander Payne said he felt about London in 1872: ‘Nothing is more striking… than the utter confusion and want of plan to the place” Donald Ritchie

“[Tokyo] is also a city where the sheer number of people to stare at can be exhilarating. As Constantin Guys said… ‘Anyone who is capable of being bored in a crowd is a blockhead’” Donald Ritchie

“Tokyo is much like Calcutta with all the amenities, or Singapore before city planners wreaked it” Donald Ritchie

“Though Japanese municipalities, particularly Tokyo, may appear to be reassuringly, or distressingly, Western, even a short acquaintance with these modern-seeming cities indicates that they are not Western nor, indeed, in any Western sense modern” Donald Ritchie

“Equally important to Tokyo ’style’ is the lack of zoning- no slums and ghettos, no good and bad side of the tracks, no strictly industrial areas, no rigorously residential districts” Donald Ritchie

“Tokyo seems the least designed of capitals, not so much contrived as naturally grown” Donald Ritchie


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