The temptations of Tokyo - Monocolumn | Monocle


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13 May 2013

By the time you read this I will be packing. After two and a half years in London I’m moving back to Australia - probably to pursue my dream of becoming an Akubra-wearing kangaroo tamer with a taste for meat pies and Fosters cut with iron ore. Or to start a company manufacturing exotic nut butters - I can’t decide.

But before it’s back to the red country, I have a stop-off in Tokyo. I mentioned this to a colleague who lived there for years and he said that my seven-day itinerary might not be enough. In fact, he was of the opinion that I should significantly extend my stay: he suggested I move there.

According to my colleague, Japan is just around the corner from returning to its former economic glory. After almost two decades of stagnation, the IMF recently boosted Japan’s projected growth to 1.6 per cent. As deputy PM Taro Aso put it, Abenomics has fired a monetary bazooka at deflation.

It’s good news for visiting foreigners like me - on Friday the yen hit a four-year low against the dollar, meaning I can get more bento for my buck. But as to whether the trickle-down effect will work as planned - well, Toyota has just published an increased profit of $1.5bn (€1.16bn). But I suppose the next few years will reveal the lasting effects.

Economics aside, Japan seem as strong as ever when it comes to breeding world-class tech innovators. In the June issue of Monocle we’ve written about a Tokyo start-up that is developing an electric-run tricycle to replace tuk-tuks in Manila. Pretty impressive stuff, but since I don’t really trust myself with a soldering iron, I wonder if I’d fit in.

Then again, the Japanese economy isn’t all microchips and supercomputers. The profile of Japanese artists like Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami has never been higher. Plus, the work of Haruki Murakami is one of the world’s great literary exports. Sprinkle on that Japan’s legendary work ethic and it seems the country is primed for results in most fields.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I’m tempted. Perhaps I should say sayonara to my plans in Melbourne and breathe konichiwa to a future in downtown Tokyo. But then again, do they sell pies in Japan?

Adrian Craddock is an associate producer on M24.


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