Craig Mod
Tokyo & New York & SF & elsewhere
Hi co-founder. Writer. Travel lover. More at:

The Tokyo model, 1:1000

February 4th, 2016, 10pm in Shibuya-ku, Japan

I was invited to view a 1:1000 scale model of Tokyo today. It felt ... liturgical. Like bearing witness to a holy object. It was WEIRD — let's just say that — the response I found myself having to this thing.

The model is INSANELY detailed. Borgesian, fractal. Everything is constructed and printed at 300dpi and you feel like you could fall headfirst into any corner of it.

I'm not sure you can be driven to make stuff like this for purely commercial reasons. There is a reverence in the details that money alone can't inspire.

The manager of the model was in the room and explaining things to us but, to be honest, I couldn't listen to him. He was speaking really loudly and it felt wrong. In fact, I wanted us all to be quiet. I felt like we weren't ALLOWED to speak loudly in the presence of this model. Like we'd wake everyone in the city up.

I could have stayed in that room for ten hours. The manager continued talking and I ignored him, had to ignore him, and found myself pacing and tracing out the last fifteen years of my life — little strands here and there, buildings and corners that mean something especially important to me. And to find each one — with the precise windows and lamp posts in question — felt like discovering a contradiction, that my individual, insignificant experiences didn't warrant mapping onto this thing, but yet, there they were.

It's hard to overestimate the potency of physicality. Seeing Tokyo on Google Maps is one thing. Seeing it splayed before you — constructed millimeter by millimeter ... Well, that has a profoundly different effect.