Tokyo is a living manifesto waiting to be exposed. With the fatal weakness of its inherent lack of internal logic and mountain range of affect without intent, Tokyo is agitating to be understood, towards a projective manifesto for the 21st century. Ever since the black ship arrived, a new culture brews in Tokyo as a reluctant actor without the control of its own destiny. The large territory it covers is occupied by presence and emptiness, both incidental and intentional, and mutations are not confined to blocks or units but permeate unmitigated tracts of land. In Tokyo, where it never ceases to surprise us even if we experienced the same phenomenon twice, all oppositions coexist happily in aufheben to prove that the Western dialectic is impotent here. Rather, there is a sense of accepting rich gradations that can be hastily consummated into a term ambiguity, however, we hereby posit a new descriptor. Tokyoism is thoroughly heterotopic, that to be realized the fantasy will have to be integrated inseparably from the reality totally fabricated by man, where even nature is subsumed. Even nature is made, manicured by the meticulous hands of masters.
Tokyo—and in part, Japan as a whole—is a heterotopia because it was never Modern. Now nor before nor for the time forthcoming. This may be a contrarian or even to some, disparaging position. But it is one that supposes a smooth continuum of history, rather than one revolutions or striations that shock cultures or peoples to some new enlightened or ‘modern’ state. In the constant themes that are presented in news and media, art and architecture, high and pop culture, give an aestheticized Japan that we fear losing—fear for the lack of difference that would result, as much as the fear of a lost hegemony in the game of modernity. The West loves to hear how Japan really is a constant paradox of traditional and new, exotic, and erotic. But the simple fact is, there is no paradox. The perceived paradox is simply one of looking at Tokyo and Japan as a dual object of aestheticization—the traditional, and the modern, a construct that fits grand narratives of historians who look at Modernization as Westernization. We solemnly deny this assumption as not useful and outdated, and deny that it is in fact a radical one. Instead, going forth, we propose to look at Tokyo through a spectrum of continuity. The traditional dialectic linear binary has trapped us in an ouroborus of extremes, leading us nowhere with self-congratulatory modish conclusions on the city. Like its physical manifestation, Tokyoism—studies and theories on Japan’s capital—is multidimensional mediation, allowing for many unabsolute possibilities and combinations. With an eye towards theoretical promiscuity and interdisciplinarity, we hope to capture a more demystified Tokyo in all of its architectonic diversity.