Once again, Monocle magazine has ranked Tokyo as the world's most livable city. As far as cities go, Tokyo is the world's largest at 37 million people living in the metro area. Tokyo is the city of the future, it really speaks to the possibilities of the megalopolis to provide a high standard of living for its residents. There are tradeoffs to living in such a large city. The most obvious tradeoff is that the availability of space is limited. Apartments are tiny, houses are tiny, seats on trains are tiny if you can find one.
What you get in return is convenience and experience. Tokyo has the most interconnected and efficient train system in the world. Tens of millions of passengers are constantly moving through Tokyo's many train lines that are almost always on time. Having such reliable transportation really does put your mind at ease when it comes to showing up on time for work, or even meeting up with friends. The low-rise small scale nature of Tokyo's best neighborhoods creates an atmosphere of endless discovery, and unique experiences. These areas are really the heart and soul of Tokyo, and it's what I promote here at Tokyotecture on my walks.
Kenzo Tange's Yoyogi National Gymnasium was originally built for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The building still stands today as a symbol of progress. It was built at a time of great transition for Japan as it bounced back from the devastation of WWII. The fact that it’s still being used today is a testament to the design quality, and imagination of Tange.
The building combines modernism, and traditional Japanese design springing from Shinto shrine architecture. This combination is most evident in its grand swooping roof reminiscent of the hundreds of temples across Japan. Of course, the roof is not built using traditional methods. Instead, Tange invented a structure that mocks a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. The weight of the roof is held up with cables that are tied to two anchors on the ground at opposing ends of the building.
Tange was inspired by Le Corbusier’s Palais of the Soviets; a design that was never built, but nonetheless had a lasting impression on Tange. One component of Palais of the Soviets that stuck with Tange was a roof held up not by the structure of a building below, but by an arch that had cables going from the arch to the roof below it.
Originally, the building showcased swimming at the 1964 Summer Olympics. The good news for Yoyogi National Gymnasium is that it will be used again during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the handball competition, a slightly less popular sport than swimming.
Monocle Magazine launched in 2007, and has since become famous for its annual Quality of Life rankings of global cities. Tokyo has steadily risen up the ranks of Monocle's list until finally this year it occupies the top spot. So what is it about Tokyo the largest city in the world known for crammed trains during the morning commute that makes it so special?
Here's what Monocle says,
The new and worthy winner. Monocle has made no secret of its love for Tokyo over the years. It manages to do something no other global metropolis can: provide a great quality of life for those who live there, and also visit. From culture to security, [from] food to courtesy, it has everything covered. London and New York: take note.
Tokyotecture couldn't agree more with Monocle's synopsis. On our walks we always make it a point to rave about the surprisingly easy going nature of Tokyo life. The train lines are unfathomably extensive making it easy to get around for locals and tourists. And there's no need to worry about any seedy, or unseemly areas of the city, day or night.
If you're visiting Tokyo remember to partake in Food, Fashion and Festivals.
Food: There's something for everyone. The usuals hits like sushi and ramen are good to have. But even folks who aren't into those dishes can find a wide variety of visually mesmerizing, tastebud delighting food.
Fashion and design: Brands, brands, brands. Major retailers compete for attention in popular shopping areas by commissioning the world's top architects to design buildings that will showcase their brand and stand out from the crowd. The result are several major shopping areas with high-end shopping and high-end architecture.
People are quite fashion conscious here. They are not shy about partaking in brand identity clothing and lifestyles. And the women especially tend to dress in their nicest as a daily practice. On the surface it may seem like there's a lot of competition to look better than the rest, but in the end it creates a great atmosphere.
Festivals: Japan is steeped in tradition and there's often a festival or two, or twenty going on around Tokyo. There are several public holidays throughout the year to take the edge off of the 45-hour salaryman workweek. There's even a holiday called Mountain Day, starting in 2016 to celebrate mountains. Yeah not any specific mountain like say, Mount Fuji. Just mountains, just because.
If you're curious about the other 24 cities on Monocle's list check out the 10 min video here.
Or have a look at the list below. (Spoiler alert)
Monocle Magazine's 2015 Quality of Life Rankings