As an expat who travels frequently and spends roughly half of each year living in New York, I am particularly sensitive to how Tokyo is perceived beyond its metropolitan and national borders. The opportunity to write about Tokyo as a “brand,” an image, idea and product, was both disturbing and enticing. What did it mean?
The Tokyo I wrote about was a global city of superlatives -- moneyed, busy, exhausting and eerily childlike, a perverse victim and beneficiary of U.S. occupation.
Vast and largest by population, concrete-floored, steel-and-glass upholstered, one of the world’s most expensive and, according to quasi-mythic reports from outer space, its very brightest urban blot.
Watching in horror
I wasn’t in Tokyo on the afternoon of 3/11, when the city shook, a few of its buildings cracked, phones went down, fires lit up, and a not-so-distant nuclear power plant had a meltdown. I had flown out of Narita airport 48 hours earlier for long-booked speaking engagements on the U.S. West Coast, in New York, Washington and London.
Like millions, I watched with horror and helplessness as the images spooled across computer and TV screens: collapsing shelves in offices, commuters coursing on foot along barren rail lines, and an oozing, cancer-like wave of water that mocked human order, depositing fishing ships atop barns, in a country long-devoted to order. [cont'd @CNNgo]