Drawings, Storytelling, and Subjectivity

December 8, 2014

Issue statement by Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context.


Mas issue tokyo cover opening

Tokyo. © Adrian Hogan.

This issue is as much about Tokyo as it as about the importance of valuing our very personal and subjective relationship to our environments.

Tokyo, the city at the core of the biggest metropolitan area in the world, can be explained through complex sets of data and precise maps. They would be a valid reading of the city that would provide valuable information. Or more precisely, we should say readings in plural as, depending on who analyzes the information, we will get different outcomes. In the end, any diagram or map is a subjective representation of information. The exclusive use of data-driven analysis is extremely common these days and, while useful, it can also complicate our capacity to relate with the reality of the place. Numbers become more important than experiences. But, the same unit (a place, a building) can be experienced differently by two people, and that is an important and valuable condition.

In this issue we want to take this subjective exploration of the city a little further and remove the use of any type of data when observing Tokyo. We want to describe the experiences we have, the people we know or observe, the cultural differences with our cities or countries of origin, and all the small details of everyday that catch our eye and define how we perceive and remember Tokyo. Each of these conditions are different for each one of us and it is that subjective observation and representation that can provide another valuable reading of the city.

To represent this personal Tokyo, we collaborated with illustrator and editorial designer Luis Mendo. Luis was the perfect person for the issue: he had already provided his personal vision of Tokyo in his “Tokyoites” drawings featured in our Communication issue; he had produced the Tokyo City Report, his “brief introduction to the city;” and he avidly draws every aspect of the city. As the guest editor of this issue, he invited twelve illustrators to join him in providing their vision of the city. Each of them has a different style and focus but, as a whole, they reveal Tokyo’s built environment, its culture, its people, and everything that makes it one of the most fascinating cities in the world. To accompany these drawings, nine other contributors share in words an aspect of their Tokyo.

Enjoy this very personal view of the city of Tokyo. Whether you were born or live there, you have visited the city once, or you just dream of going in the future, we hope this view surprises you, and you join us in our love for drawings, storytelling, and subjectivity.


Tokyo has had invaluable help from Lee Basford, Michelle Benoit, Andrew Browne, Andrew Clark, André Corrêa, Anselm Dästner, Christian Dimmer, Masaki Endoh, Ghosttthead, Hama-House, Adrian Hogan, Andrew Joyce, Taek Kim, Shu Kuge, Grace Lee, Chip Lord, Filipe Magalhães, Joey Meuross, Julie Michiels, Craig Mod, Nikki Minemura, neji_maki_dori, Yoshino Nihonyanagi, David Robert, Bud Rodecker, Terry Satomi, Jean Snow, Ana Luisa Soares, Mariya Suzuki, Tama-chan, and Rick Valicenti.

A special thank you goes to Luis Mendo without whom it would have been impossible to explore this fascinating city.