CREATIVE Jayne Joso

NWR Issue 100

Tokyo Spaces

I arrived in Setagaya to a flat I had rented unseen. A large concrete structure over three floors originally designed as a single home, now carved up on the inside into modest spaces that would house no more than one. The company had gone bust, new developers had taken over, and now the plan was to maximise the number of small spaces that might be cut in. I imagined a hive, the interior cleverly divided, the spaces balanced. Except developers aren’t bees. These guys wanted that space chopped up into as many spaces as possible, packed with as many renters as they could get. Any aesthetic had long since flown.

I turned the key in the door, and entered a dark place. Like walking into the narrow end of a grave or finding yourself in a deep and narrow shaft. There was a super slim bed and above it shelves stepped up high, so by the time you lay down you could be sure to feel good and buried. Dry cement walls, hard and cold looking. Dust and chalky edges belying its strength. Choking the visitor. The place had a window. A long thin window. Making it: a grave with a window. I got up off the bed and left.

I walked about the local streets, decided I liked the neighbourhood well enough. A local grocery store across the way with a good stock of persimmon, frozen yoghurt, pickles and beers; its owner, a man of warm, benevolent humour. He sighed at the idea that the concrete monster had ever gone up, but still, it might be nice to finally have people living there. He said he hoped I would come back. I most certainly would, for the pickles if nothing else.

I took the local Setagaya line. A bottle green overland train with gold detailing; decidedly and bizarrely old-fashioned. It chugged along romantically like trains from some bygone era, perfect for a stylish 1930s gangster movie. A shame to get off...

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