Tokyo: A Certain Style

Off the Bookshelf

Tokyo: A Certain Style

by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

Chronicle Books, 248 pp., $12.95 (paper)

In a deceptively small pocket-sized book, Tsuzuki packs the contents of millions of lives, from bent kitchen spoons and vinyl records to tattered mattresses, broken lamps, egg crates taped onto crumbling walls, community toilets, paint bottles, wrinkled clothes, and stains on every surface imaginable to demonstrate a way of life that is, at best, wholly incomprehensible to Western eyes. Flipping through these pages, you can smell the countless things frying and already fried in the kitchens, see the different-colored smokes trailing toward the air. Curiously absent from the 400 pictures in this collection are human faces. As Tsuzuki writes of one writer's living space: "A table serves many purposes for him -- as a desk, an eating table, and a 'bed.'" A marvelous voyeuristic trip into the tightest of spaces, Tokyo cleverly reconfigures the possibilities of what humans are willing to endure -- and enjoy.

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