To everyone who clicked on this page, let me guess what you’re thinking. “Wait, I thought this was the ‘World in Twelve’? Wouldn’t Tokyo make it 13 cities?”

(…Was I correct? What? You were thinking “Man that bacon cheese burger I had last night. Mmmmmm. But I should have added avocado...” ? Oh. I guess I was a little off then, huh. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, to answer the question I posed on myself, yes, Tokyo would make it 13 cities. But if you notice, Tokyo is not listed in the city page, is located in the upper right hand of your screen if you’re on the computer, and has the words “TEST CITY” next to it. So it’s a little different. Let me explain.

What is “lean,” you say? The concept originally derives from the construction lines at Toyota Motors with its innovative multi-directional checks and balances system. The entrepreneur Eric Ries applied this concept to venture start-ups in his book, “Lean Startup,” and it became an immensely popular way to create new services, products, and companies. Before the introduction of “lean,” when a company would create a product or service, they would put the final version out for distribution and retail. Because of this, it was very difficult for the companies to improve and expand on the product or service, since it was already finished. However, in the “lean” model, the company puts the product or service out for use before it is finished. This way, users can test the product or service and give feedback. The company can learn from the feedback, and improve their product. Since the product or service has gone through numerous tests and fixes, when it is finally complete, it is a much better product then it would have been. You can learn more at: (theleanstartup.com/)

So, I wanted to make The World in Twelve a “lean” project. I had various reasons for this. One was, although I had chosen 12 sub-projects to conduct, I didn’t know if any of them were realistically possible. Or even if they were possible, were they interesting?? Other than music, I had no background in the production side of any other forms of media. However, many of the sub-projects required basic levels of photography, filming, and editing. Which meant I needed a few test runs. I needed to make a basic template for many of the sub-projects before I left Japan so I could at least certify a certain level of quality.

Also, I thought the test runs of each sub-project would be evidence that I was actually true to my word. If I just appear in front of people as a foreigner and ask for help, I believe most people would be a bit suspicious. But if I have proof that I am conducting this project in a professional, competent manner, people will be more willing to help.
So “TEST CITY: Tokyo” was born. Since it is a test city, I will be spending more than one month to conduct all the sub-projects. Also, the number of people engaging in one sub-project, or the sub-project itself might change. But it’s all part of the “lean” concept, so it’s ok. I will be uploading sub-projects in their early stages, and hope to receive feedback so I can improve on them.
So it would be great if I could receive feedback! (with words that don’t hurt too much haha)

City Population : 9,071,577
City Area : 622.99km²
Urban Population : 37,239,000
Urban Area : 8,547km²
Districts/Wards : 23 Wards
Nicknames : -

Why Tokyo??

Why Tokyo? Technically, “why” is not the correct usage or word choice in this case. Tokyo isn’t one of the cities chosen for the project, and I explained why I am using it as a “lean” city above. So there really isn’t a “why” aspect to Tokyo. Also, I’ve now lived in Tokyo for 5 years, and it’s becoming very difficult to look at the city objectively. But I do want to talk about Tokyo. And to do this, I’m going to do some soul searching, return to my origins, and do my best tackling the question “Why, Tokyo?”

Tokyo is an incredible city. If I were to list all the incredible aspects of Tokyo, you’d be reading this paragraph for half a day. Tokyo has opened so many new doors for me, and given me so much, I really wouldn’t know where to start. But if I had to choose one thing, it would be the freedom it gave me as a teenager. Being a cynical, sarcastic adolescent, the endless cycle of high school life was slowly killing me on the inside, day by day. The only thing that revived me and kept me going was visiting Tokyo every summer, and experiencing the freedom it presented me. This was kind of ironic, coming from a boy being born and raised in the supposed “Land of the Free”, but compared to the American suburbia which required a car and a driver’s license to do anything, Tokyo was paradise. Basic knowledge of the public transportation system and a little bit of courage could take you anywhere. You could become anything.

Endless energy and a desire to have fun was a stimulating concoction brewing in the already restless teenage me. When you added the spice of “freedom” to this mix, the possibilities became endless. Everyday my friends and I would chug down this elixir, and set off towards a new adventure. Riding on trains, buying junk food at the convenience stores, eating out at restaurants, wasting time at game centers, singing karaoke--all the stuff that was an ordinary part of daily life for the local residents were fresh and exciting for us. However, the most fun came from emulating the crazy Japanese variety shows we saw on TV. We would conduct our improvised games in the streets and stores of Tokyo, uncaring of rules or surroundings, living in the moment. Looking back now, I realize these were all just childish acts done by kids unaware of repercussions, but they are also the pinnacle of all the “fun” memories I’ve had in my life. When I’m an old geezer sitting in my rocking chair, on the porch, staring out at the sunset, these are the memories I will be reminiscing about.

Two of my favorite sensations are the sense of freedom and nostalgia. If they sold these sensations on Amazon, I would be broke. And overdosed. The memory of getting off the plane and heading out towards Tokyo those summers is one of the few that maximizes both sensations. It goes like this: After the plane touches down at Narita International Airport, and you step out, your senses are immediately assaulted and jolted awake. The glaring summer sun burns your eyes. The jet fuel stings your nostrils. The smoldering heat and humidity engulf you like a blanket. Having been capsuled in recycled air for the past 10 hours, this new environment, where just pulling your suitcase builds sweat on your forehead--you can’t help but start getting excited. You can feel it on your fingertips. Adventure is near.

Riding on the train towards Tokyo, the sun starts setting on the surrounding farmland. Slowly, city lights start to appear. The school girl who just finished her club activities, the “salaryman” who luckily got off work early, the young man rocking out on his headphones--all are heading home, or heading out, living their daily lives. I look around, rub my eyes sleepy from jet lag, and stare at an advertisement that just screams “JAPANESE.” The sensation starts building me. I have arrived. Who knows what’s going to happen this year. The only thing I can say for sure is that something will happen, and it’s going to be awesome. Summer vacation is here.

I don’t know if its because I’ve been in Japan for so long, or because I’ve grown older (probably both), but I never feel that sensation anymore when “returning” from the United States. That might be one of my subconscious reasons for conducting the “World in Twelve”, and to answer the original question I posed in the beginning, the reason I am using Tokyo as a test city. So I can retrieve that sensation, find that new light in this incredible city, and Tokyo will again be the destination for adventure.