Tokyo’s Olympic organisers have yet to announce a route for the torch relay but Soka, a city in the Saitama prefecture north of the capital, has submitted a proposal that would bring attention to one of Japan’s most revered literary figures. Soka’s mayor, Kazuaki Tanaka, thinks the relay route should retrace part of 17th-century haiku poet Matsuo Basho’s 2,400km walk through the northeast of the country. Basho’s route, featured in his masterpiece Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North), cuts through the Tohoku region that was ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The sight of runners carrying the Olympic flame could be a boost for disaster-hit areas: many of Tohoku’s coastal communities (such as the one pictured above) are still rebuilding and tens of thousands of residents remain in prefabricated temporary housing.
Last year saw the inaugural outing for Photo London, a gathering of more than 70 galleries at Somerset House, plus numerous spin-offs at museums and venues across the city. And now it’s back, opening its doors to lovers of fancy shutter work from Thursday to Sunday. It’s by far the best event in the UK for photography purchases and many of the international galleries taking part are showing fresh and inventive work. Last year’s show suffered a little – as many art fairs do – from competing galleries selling works by the same photographers and a few too many late-career prints from photographic greats. However, Michael Benson, the co-director of Photo London, is confident that the show will take a leap forward this week. “For this second edition we expect to see increased numbers of collectors from home and abroad. Given that there are already nearly 50 satellite events taking place we believe that this will be the moment when London truly falls in love with photography.”
In an effort to rein in runaway rents, the German cities of Berlin and Hamburg are cracking down by asking landlords to open up. Soon-to-be-imposed regulations will require landlords to tell prospective tenants what previous tenants were charged in rent. Though many German cities, notably Berlin, already have strict rules in place regarding rent increases for new contracts, landlords have been able to exploit a housing shortage and charge more than the law permits. Authorities have had a hard time stopping exorbitant jumps in rent as tenants don’t report delinquent landlords, largely because it’s difficult to determine what rate a flat was previously let for. The new regulations are meant to give more information, and therefore power, to tenants. It’s not a perfect solution however: as long as there is a shortage of housing, renters are bound to find themselves in a tough spot.
Today marks the start of the US’s Bike to Work Week as the car-centric country attempts to move away from its dependency on motors. Since 2005 the number of commuters travelling by bike has increased by an average of 46 per cent; this is led by eastern states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, which are showing a rise of more than 100 per cent. Even though a dynamic bike culture is visibly catching on in North America it still has a long way to go to compete with places such as Denmark, where a staggering 90 per cent of people own a bike, as opposed to 53 per cent in the US. The bottom line: swap your steering wheel for handlebars.
Ericeira, a small fishing village north of Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is also a world-class surfing town. People come from as far away as Australia for great waves, good seafood and a relaxed “old Portugal” feeling that persists even as the town’s popularity grows. Monocle Films pays a visit.
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