When I visited Tokyo earlier this year - I had a strong feeling that I would live in Japan one day.
My favorite way to explore a city is to walk as much as possible. In Tokyo, I walked around 8-10 miles a day. What makes the walking easier is taking photos - and I never took as many photos as I did in Tokyo. There is so much inspiration everywhere. Typically, when I walk around most cities, I look at a building and think “eh, I would change that.” I suppose thats the curse of being a designer. In Tokyo, when I look around, I think “wow, I wouldn’t have done that but that’s amazing.”
It’s surreal. The focus on details is so inspiring. When you look around, most things are designed by people no smarter than you. In fact, most things are carelessly designed. Most things age poorly, or they break in predictable ways. Most things weren’t thought through - they were created for mass production. They were created to keep the ‘costs’ low. This is true about almost everything around you.
In Japan - they’ve found the right balance. Almost everything is carefully designed. Even manhole covers. Mailboxes. Chairs. You name it, and some effort was put in. There are stickers on the stairs to indicate which side you ought to walk up on. At a ramen restaurant with 6 seats, you pay while you wait outside at a vending machine and hand the host the tickets from the machine. By the time you’re seated, your food is ready for you. Lunch takes 15 mins. Design isn’t just how it looks, its how it works. Tokyo works. It works better than any city I’ve been to in my life.
Today, I had my first Japanese language session with a tutor. It’ll be hard to learn a language while running a 500+ person company, but it’s worth it. Some day, I’ll live in Japan.