Artifact | Seats

These chairs, thoughtfully placed on a narrow sidewalk at a city bus stop, underscore the fact that there is very little public seating in Tokyo. City parks are well appointed. Train stations too. As are shopping malls and department stores and the various cafe chains. Public seating, seating on public land, not on corporate real estate, is close to non-existant here. Even on Tokyo’s ‘Champs Elysees’, Omotesando, with its relatively generous sidewalks, the seating comprises thin twin-tiered rails that serve as perches. There are exceptions: the seating on the main shopping street in Marunouchi and the tables and chairs that pop up on Ginza’s main drag when its closed to cars on weekends come to mind. But public space in Tokyo is limited, streets and sidewalks—sometimes sharing the same space, just as often they are the same space—are intended as thoroughfares, not places to loiter or relax.