Tokyo Protocol by greg serweta

 "In the next thirty minutes, you will open the door to this mysterious world and regain a lost eternity..."     

― Opening narrationNeo Ultra Q

"When two persons in search of a Pokémon clash at the corner of Sunset and San Vicente, is there violenceIs there murder?"

 Werner Herzog, inquiring on the protocol of Pokémon Go

Tokyo doesn't need a protocol, if it in fact even has a protocol. Its urban policy is ad-hoc-ness. In medical terms, there is no treatment plan, no summarized consensus statements, nor no cohesive addresses to practical issues. How an architect deals with the design of a building does not have a prescriptive or universal code. As such, the lack of protocol enables diversity in its aesthetics as well as in its appropriation of aesthetics. Diversity in this sense can also be interpreted as fluidity in its various changes, like physical manifestations of the Japanese cultural psyche, refreshed every thirty years or so. 

Even through its many metamorphoses, Tokyo hasn't quintessentially changed since the Edo period. The urban fabric still retains the divisions of the estates of daimyos, but set through periods of codes and appropriations – a kind of urban mitate-e – whether with the 17th C. wabi sabi imperfect beautification of the city, Edo period's shiso architectural humble subtleties, kabuki façades of exaggeration, or Meiji-era imported construction, stylistic mimicry, and military industrialization. Tokyo continued that way in the post-war Miracle and Bubble, becoming a hyper-consuming high-geared capitalist machine, capturing the essence of nowness, status, and cultural regimentalization, and reproducing the image of Japan's growing middle class and petite bourgeoisie in its expanding suburbanity. Even the current kawaii trend of infantile cuteness seems devised from Occupation times as a return to pre-war innocence, as reflected in a minimalist architectural formalism. 

Though Tokyo seemingly has a scripted history mirroring a robust national psyche, it allows for moments of 'Absolute Other-ness' to pervade (____- zettai) – parties that you have no control over; whether with the Other's façades: 1950's concrete buildings resurfaced with 1980's tiles, to be resurfaced with 2010's steel panels. Or with the Other's code – as with American start-up, AIrBnB – which is shaking up the city's real estate and hotelier hierarchy, playing in the ambiguities of the public, the private sphere, and the law.

But now, more than ever, it is the culture of shiny new things (pika pika), with media-enabled fantasies, that's taking Tokyo by storm. Coincidently, it's Pikachu (again) and Pokémon Go, a corporate masterwork of how to literally superimpose stupendous kawaii vis-à-vis the city, augmenting reality by projecting parasitic cuteness onto the streets and gameifying the entirety of the prefectures. Technological blinders keep the populace placated while virtually beautifying the present reality that Tokyo as a population and as a city and Japan as a nation becomes... what? (More poor? More Olympic? Even more extemporary?) Maybe this only serves as a hypnotic stopgap until Tokyo receives its next therapy session.


東京プロトコル   Tōkyō Purotokoru,  ネオ・ウルトラQ  Neo Urutora Kyū , (not Pokémon Go)   

東京プロトコル Tōkyō Purotokoru, ネオ・ウルトラQ Neo Urutora Kyū,
(not Pokémon Go)


Tokyoism - The Preamble by kaz yoneda

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.