When does a city become your own? / by istudio

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Notebook Japan 98 So when does a city start to belong to a person? Is it a matter of time, or of experience? Maybe when the lights coming on in the evening bring a sense of familiarity. When I have a place to go as some kind of regular. When I decide I’ll go home this way instead of that because the subway is cheaper than a train + bus, even if I have to walk a little more. When I feel a strange sense of kindred with folks on the street I’ll never even meet – complete stranger. When I don’t stop at each corner to check my direction + location.

I’ve come to Motomachi only the 4th time or so and I spend the afternoon strolling streets and the early evening drinking coffee at an outside table in the fall air and I take possession of the city a little. Like a beachhead, like a first long kiss + a touch. Like taking it for a test drive. At that point it’s a little bit mine now. Walking through doesn’t count, a peck on the cheek doesn’t either. But lingering, that’s when the exchange begins whether one knows it or not. And returning builds the bond one silk thread after another. Finally the living is what really seals it. The prolonged occupation, “marrying a native”. Sleeping together, or better yet waking up together. Taking it in for alignment and getting the brakes checked. When I’m buying bread, saying hello to the owners and thinking about how there’s too many new people these days… it’s mine.