Tokyo Totem unpacks the cultural playground that is Tokyo

A multimedia guidebook helps visitors see Tokyo in different ways, through the eyes of its 46 contributors.

From the Series

Tokyo Totem, A Guide to Tokyo is not the ordinary guidebook packed with all the standard features one is accustomed to; it is an ode to the social nuances and cultural markers that help Tokyoites navigate their city. Launched in October this year, the book is overflowing with stories, maps, photo narratives, collages, poems, Japanese comics called mangas, illustrations and thoughtful observations.

Published by Flick Studio in Tokyo, the guide is a collaborative project headed up by Dutch creative studio Monnik and designed by Jasper van den Berg. The team of contributors, including authors, designers and makers from varied disciplines, emerged from an urban research workshop on Tokyo in 2012.

The book navigates the reader through the thicket of Tokyo’s urban culture across its five chapters: Find Yourself, Walk the Land, Follow the Rhythm, Choose Your City, and Make Yourself at Home. Each of the 46 contributions offers a unique and personal interpretation, opening the reader to the different facets and experiences of the city.

The Tokyo Totem website explains the concept behind the name of the publication:

“In Tokyo there are many totems. Walking its many streets one encounters emblems that signify, for example, certain spirits or gods, fashion tribes, neighbourhoods, consumer preferences, professions, or corporate affiliations. But these totems also exist within you.”