An oolong highball ... and some space
Alone among 13 million people, Richard Clapton sees the future in a Tokyo subway.
T’S the first trip to Japan that makes the greatest impression. As an aficionado of Ridley Scott’s science-fiction masterpiece Blade Runner, my first visit to Tokyo was a sort of deja vu experience. On a December morning, I left my hotel room in Shibuya and stepped into an almost exact replica of a Blade Runner set: the impressionistic, melting colours created by rain on a thousand neon signs, the noodle stalls, the overcrowded streets – it’s said that 2000 people traverse Shibuya’s main intersection at any one time.
On that trip, I stayed for 10 days, an ideal amount of time. The population of Tokyo is more than 13 million but in greater Tokyo it’s almost 38 million. Despite this vast ocean of humanity – or perhaps because of it – Tokyo is as vibrant and exciting a city. I wrote a song called Tokyo Subway in which I described it as a “postcard from the edge of time”.
I was introduced to several music business contacts on that first trip, the most gregarious being Sebastian, a CanadianAmerican who had lived there for almost 30 years. He was based in Ueno, a district on the outskirts of the city. It has one of the busiest rail stations in Tokyo and is also home to markets full of hundreds of little stalls selling a vast array of knick-knacks. They became famous for being the biggest