2022 Special Project:

A Thousand-Meter Radius

Seeing What There Is To See
Telling What There Is To Tell

A circle drawn on a map. Centered on a specific point in a city park, the circle has a radius of a thousand meters and covers an area of 3.14 km2. Contained in that circle are shrines and temples, a train station, restaurants and supermarkets, schools and daycares, and at least twenty thousand people. 

A Thousand-Meter Radius, my personal project for 2022 and 2023, aims to study this area in depth and bring you stories about this place, its history, and its people. 

Map overlaid with a circle with a 1,000m radius and centered in Tsuki Park, Urawa Ward, Saitama City, Japan

A New Project For a New Year

This project is grounded in my long-standing belief that everything is interesting if you give it the chance to be. I believe that the ordinary details of the world have volumes to tell us if we listen carefully and allow them to speak in their own voices. 

This project’s area of concern is quite average, in the sense that it is fairly representative of what you would find throughout most of the Tokyo metropolitan area. And, while it’s a nice place to live, it’s not a place you’ll find in tourism brochures. It’s a perfectly ordinary place, and the interesting thing about ordinary places is that, just like anywhere else, if you look for the things that make them special, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Every place is ordinary, and every place is special. 

My aim here is to illustrate what I mean through  stories, photo essays, and so-on that uncover the all the wonderful things about this completely ordinary place. 

“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”

John Cage

I am starting this project with it deliberately loosely framed. I expect the project to take shape largely on its own, guided by what I find in my explorations, the people I meet, and what my research uncovers along the way. 

And as the project gains clarity and direction, I will update this page accordingly. 

On my first night in Japan after moving here, on 2015-03-31, I attended a nighttime cherry blossom party (called yozakura). The party was in the park, and the place I sat that night, the place where my experience of living in Japan began, forms the center point of this circle.

 

Originally, I intended to use my home as the center point, but for safety/privacy reasons thought better of it. The updated center is still quite close, only about 200m from my apartment, and still has personal significance, so I felt this was a good compromise.

I wanted the area to be large enough to have a lot of variety and depth to what it contained. A smaller radius would have excluded a lot of interesting things. At the same time, I also wanted it to be small enough that I could explore every last meter of street on foot without it becoming a ridiculous task. Large enough to be diverse, small enough to be manageable. The number 1,000 is frankly arbitrary, but balances these desired attributes nicely. 

I don’t know what you want to know, so if you have questions, please leave them in the comments below!

The State of the Blog, January 2022

Today I’d like to take a break from the regular schedule of the last year and look at the current state of my Somewhere in Japan project and talk a bit about where it’s headed in 2022.

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