Header image for Walking TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO² — Winter Edition

Walking TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO² — Winter Edition

Ridgeline Transmission 154



2023 is here, and I come bearing a new pop-up newsletter: TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO² — Winter Walk Edition. It runs for a week starting on January 16, 2023, finishing on January 23.

Five months ago, during the peak of summer heat, I ran the first TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO newsletter. Despite sweating some five liters each day, I had a blast. It reminded me of many things — not the least of which being my complex twenty-three year history with the city — but mostly it reminded me of how much I love Tokyo. I adore the Tokyo. Tokyo is a marvel to be walked and observed.

This is how I concluded that last pop-up newsletter:

As I walked over Maruko Bridge, crossing the Tama River, leaving Tokyo behind, I stopped to look back. Here was one train line, there another. More bridges in the distance. Good roads. Couples jogged past, rode bikes. Folks of all ages were down below on the river’s wide banks. Kids played in the water, parents hid in tents. A baseball game was ongoing. On the far side was a shack selling fishing lures. Things worked, and worked well. I realized I was witnessing a miracle.

After twenty-two years and seven consecutive days of walking the hell out of Tokyo, I now realize that I’d go to the mat for this city. I still can’t believe I made my way here so long ago, and found a way to stay. The city taught me care, introduced me to aesthetics and design and literature and people that would inform my entire career. It taught me loneliness and solitude, too, and in doing so forced me to confront both, to transmute them into more than hopelessness. The city showed me and continues to show me what’s possible. Continues to set the bar for what should be expected — no, demanded — of life and infrastructure and social goodness. The city says people can live with grace, can be honored, just like this, just like you. Look, it says — grace abounds. It’s yours to bear to witness to, if you choose.

So let’s bear witness, once again, to the grace of this clockwork place.

Like before, here are our general “rules:”

  1. Start at daybreak (~6:45 a.m. in January)
  2. Walk 15-20 kilometers radiating out from the same central point
  3. Take at least one person’s portrait each morning
  4. Hide / drop off one copy of Kissa by Kissa in a new-to-me kissa along the way
  5. Import, edit, and process the day’s photos
  6. Write 1,000 - 5,000 words about that day’s walk
  7. Publish the photos and essay before bed
  8. Clock a solid 8 hours of sleep

Will we hit all of them every day? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

Thankfully, cold weather is far easier to deal with than summer humidity and heat. That summer walk kicked my butt and then some. The daylight hours in January may be shorter, but the golden hours (when the sun’s out) stretch almost the entirety of the day. So for photography, “usable” hours in the winter are longer and higher quality. There’s a ghostliness to this winter light. We’ll be paying attention to how it shapes the city each day.

I should make note: This project is made possible and freely available to all by the support of SPECIAL PROJECTS members and their memberships. Members get access to all sorts of goodies including archives of other pop-up newsletters (including TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO) that I’ve written over the previous few years.

What lurks in the early light of January Tokyo? Who knows, but we’ll soon find out. Come along for the walk.



Not subscribed to Ridgeline?
(A weekly letter on walking in Japan)