Tokyo offers a lot of spectacle and confusion. This is just a façade. Behind the neon glare lies a steady, rhythmic and miraculous everyday world that can be yours if you want it to be. Tokyo Totem can guide you through this realm, made as much of souls as of stones. A city that exists as much “out there” as it does “in here”. To help you navigate this slippery slope, stretched between imagination and reality, you will occasionally find your path marked by a “totem”. It may be the recognizable chime of your train-stop, waking you from your morning slumber. Or the taste of your favorite food, lingering in your mouth, evoking pleasant childhood memories. Or perhaps it will be the faces that you can’t help seeing in the façades of this city. These totems signify the effort of your imagination to reach out into the world and connect to it.

Throughout this guidebook, flaneurs, artists, designers, anthropologists, architects, bathhouse connoisseurs and many, many other seasoned urban explorers will invite you to look, read, experience and connect to Tokyo differently. Together they offer insights, angles and imaginations that will hopefully assist you to make this seemingly never-ending metropolis your own.

This guide will be of little use if you want to know where to eat or what to see. Instead this publication aims to help you to make sense of the man-made world around you and to find your bearings in a physical and social labyrinth that is constantly changing.

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With contributions by
Anna Berkhof (architecture and landscape historian and photographer), Anneke Abhelakh (a Balsthal, Switzerland based architecture and design curator, wanderer and writer), Arne Hendriks (a wanderer between the world’s of art, science speculative design and radical ecology), Arthur van Beek (a visual artist, graphic designer and co-founder of the Eddie the Eagle Museum in Amsterdam), Atsushi Miura (a researcher of social design), Aukje Dekker (a visual artist and co-founder and director of the Eddie the Eagle Museum in Amsterdam), Bastian Boss (a service designer, social entrepreneur and loves to ride his bicycle), Charlotte van Zanten (a fiction writer and cultural entrepreneur), Chris Berthelsen (researches creative climates for cities,organizations and humans), Christiaan Fruneaux (a writer, traveler and a co-founder of Monnik), Christian Dimmer (an assistant professor for urbanism and urban studies at the University of Tokyo and a resident of Kankan Mori), Daniel Ruigrok (an urban designer, co-founder of Elberfeld and a fan of the French comic artist Moebius), Daphne Mohajer va Pesaran (a fashion designer, trend forecaster and lecturer in Tokyo), David Bauer (someone who would rather walk than work), David Labi (a filmmaker), David Orkand ( an architect who studied, lived and worked in Tokyo for four years), Edwin Gardner (an architect, researcher and a co-founder of Monnik), Fritzi Ponse (writes and teaches about design cultures and is interested in things that look mechanically produced but are made by hand), Gabriel Verret (an architect that studied in Paris and Tokyo), Gavin H. Whitelaw (a sociocultural anthropologist living and working in Japan), Greg Dvorak (a writer, photographer, and associate professor of Pacific and Asian cultural histories, based at Hitotsubashi University), Inara Nevskaya (works as an architect with DUS architects in Amsterdam), Jan Rothuizen (a visual artist), Jasper van den Berg (an artist, designer, husband and a father of three, who is building his own house), Jephta Dullaart (an expert on urban heritage and founder of Het Erfgoedkabinet), Jonathan M. Hall (a California-based writer and scholar of experimental media), Joris Berkhout (an architect working on global business development at a Japanese real estate developer), Julian Worrall (an architect and writer who divides his time between Tokyo and Adelaide, where he teaches architecture at the University of Adelaide), Kohei Fukazawa (an editor). Maiko Arrieta Aoki (grew up in Spain and Japan, and is studying in Tokyo to become a cook), Manar Moursi (an architect/artist and she is the founder and principal of Studio Meem in Cairo), Mara Duer (Argentine sociologist, with a master from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan and currently doing a PhD at Warwick University, UK), Maren Godzik (an associate professor at Fukuoka University), Niklas Fanelsa is an architect and urban flaneur that lived and studied in Tokyo), Norihisa Minagawa (President of the Tokyo Urban Basin Society), Thijs Middeldorp (one of the partners in Partizan Publik and clerk of The Parliament of Things, The Pink Pony Express (a design collective, based in Amsterdam), Thekla Boven (an architect conducting research on rural cultural revitalization strategies), Tomoko Kubo (an urban geographer and an assistant professor in Gifu University), Will Robinson (an artist living and working in Tokyo for the past six years), Willemien Dorresteijn (a teacher and a researcher at the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam), Yasutaka Yoshimura (an architect and urban designer based in Tokyo, Japan), Yi Zhang (a Chinese artist and interactive designer who lives in Los Angeles.

First Published on October 30, 2015

Full Color, 320 pages
152 x 224 x 27 mm
English & Japanese

Editors in chief

Edwin Gardner & Christiaan Fruneaux

Editors Japanese
Shinya Takagi &Ryoko Kozono

Graphic design
Jasper van den Berg (Studio Rooiejas)

Copy editor English
Daniela Franca Joffe

Translation from English to Japanese
Junko Kawakami; Summaries, Captions, Dear reader (Introduction)

Translation from Japanese to English
Kei Benger translated The Formation of Tokyo –Topography and History, Tokyo Jisou Maps, Deciphering Tokyo through its SURIBACHI Topography + A Recommended Tour of Roppongi’s Uneven Topography, Super Legal Buildings
Glenn Rich and Junko Kawakami translated The Shared Town – Tokyo’s Future

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