Creative Mobility in Tokyo
Tokyo is a city that must be lived in, absorbed and tot he creative person, sampled. It sounds cliche, but the inspiration on the streets is astounding and endless.
You cannot lock yourself in a basement or an apartment (or an office) and create in this town. You gotta be on the move. The whole city is begging to be scanned, xeroxed and remixed by visual DJs.
It is important to pack a full creative, inspiration soaking arsenal on every city trek in Tokyo. Whether it’s a tiny dog dressed as Michael Jackson from Thriller, or a cutting edge photo collage in some hidden gallery, it all begs to be captured for later consideration. The city is random and fast and often beautiful in its iconic examples of modern creativity.
You better be ready.
A suggested arsenal:
Great for whipping out when you see an awkward English phrase on a graphic tee like like ‘Soul of the wolf feels every love’ and ‘Big mega time at the outside forever.’ These could become treasured indie rock song titles if captured and used later. It’s also great to sketch the kinetic frenzy of a place like Shibuya crossing, or to render some of the city’s architectural marvels.
The masters of hybrid carry multifunctionality into even stationary. Pick up a double ended design marker and get to work capturing the essence of the city. I like to use the fine end for writing (and detailed cross-hatching) and the fat end for expressive slashes of line.
Digital Harinezumi 2
If you wanna take pictures that feel like you are photocopying the city, this little harinezumi (means hedgehog) is for you. The Tokyo camera makers intentionally went backwards with the technology, to give you a grainy, high contrasted and stylized take on the world.
The video mode references the look of analog super 8 film. So if you’re wanting to recreate the opening montage of the Wonder Years set in the streets of Tokyo, this is your camera. Flip it to black and white and you’ll get a grainy, high contrasted art house look that begs to be overlayed with some late night jazz or a brooding Tom Waitts track.
The photo modes present a heightened reality that only enhances the vibe of Tokyo. The color mode feels like the perfect way to express the neon dizziness of Tokyo’s most over crowded districts like Shibuya and Shinjuku. At times, this quirky hybrid of a camera supplants imagined colors into the splays of the lens flair. Each picture leaves you a bit curious just how reality will be altered. It makes the image capturing process as surprising as exploring the streets of Tokyo is itself.
For capturing the eccentricities of the city in a crisp yet portable documentary fashion, the Casio Exilim is a good pick for your open pocket. The images and colors are rich and true to the moment. There is a movie mode as well, to capture those dancing Elvises of Yoyogi Park when they really bust out and do their thing. This camera captures sound much better than the Harinezumi 2, so for shots that are dependent on live audio, this is the camera to pull out.
Turn the now ubiquitous (even in Tokyo) iPhone into another trusted creative partner. One app of particular help to the creative mind are Evernote: for recording memos and notes for larger projects. It also supports audio memo recording, and does a decent job with live music you want to remember for later. The camera mode provides you with yet another texture to use in capturing the city lights. Another app of note is MetroFinder, which will give you the best subway route to connect to that station in the trendy Daikanyama district. A great spot to think in a cafe or take in the evolving fashion that blooms in the window displays.
A Fat Sharpie
No city exploration would be complete with the most soulful marker on the market. Grab that sucker and let the rhythm of the frenzied metropolis be your muse in what you put on the record next.