I have been involved in local government / regional and economic development for a long time and I think your work was some of the best I have ever seen.

 

 

Brian O'Dwyer, Brimbank City Council

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Kylie's Postcard From Tokyo

When I pictured Tokyo from afar it was place of skyscrapers and racing cars, bright lights and kooky cat lovers. So when Monocle selected it as this year’s Most Livable (sic) City I was less than convinced.

I often tell people that you don’t have to visit places to have a connection with them; to understand whether they are the kind of place you would enjoy spending time in, or maybe it's a place you visit just to say you have. This innate understanding of ‘place-ness’ can be captured as a ‘place brand’ and is at the very heart of placemaking - the essence that makes each location unique.

So I went to Tokyo with a fair amount of ’tick the box’  first time city visit - and I was more than happily surprised. Tokyo certainly has areas like Shibuya and Shinjuku that offer the fully fledged sensory overload - and that are particularly spectacular at night. It also has many many surprisingly calm, modest and engaging neighbourhoods. Places like Daikanyama with its quirky laneways, Parisian boutiques and world-class book shop (T-Site). A visit to Ueno and Inokashira Park saw me enjoy a once in a lifetime experience - cruising the central pond in my own swan paddle boat after a fabulous traditional lunch of yakitori and sake.
Monocle magazine’s home in Tokyo is in the charming and village-like Tomigaya where I enjoyed some of the best service I have ever had at Cafe Mimet. Their simple and perfectly considered placement of a coaster for a sweating glass of refreshing lemon and soda captures the Japanese cultural concept of ichi-go ichi-e, that roughly translates to ‘one encounter, one opportunity’.

I was staying in Sendagaya, just up the road from the famous Harajuku and the adjacent Yoyogi Park and there were certainly plenty of first time experiences and perfect moments, all incredible diverse; from Harajuku girls parading their fabulous outfits to a peaceful prayer in the middle of an urban forest at the Meiji Shrine, from a tiny caravan selling amazing curries to queues of 100s waiting for shaved ice. What makes Tokyo so engaging is that it is constantly asking you to be present, to connect, to see, to listen, to feel, to get involved. There is certainly a high level of courtesy that can feel forced at times but that mostly reminds you that high quality, high density living needs a higher level of consciousness of your impact on those around you. It is a balance between being part of the commons and the opportunities life presents to be individual.

So Monocle, I guess the question now is, no matter how ‘livable’ a city is ranked - would you actually like to live there?

And for me - the answer is yes.