Go Out: An Urban Hike Through The Streets Of Tokyo
Film by Mr Dan Buyanovsky
Tokyo is the largest city in the world. So large, in fact, that it is not technically a city at all, but a metropolis prefecture, an urban sprawl of smaller cities, each with a distinct personality, that converge to form the whole. It is not, then, the first place that springs to mind when someone mentions the great outdoors, but perhaps it should be. For while Tokyo is certainly a lot to take in, the Japanese capital is also a playground ripe for outdoor adventure and exploration and a brilliant place to go walking.
To dig into the area’s walking scene, we linked up with Mr Mitsuru Takeshita, founder of GO OUT, a Japanese magazine that explores the joys of the outdoors. Go Out is also the name of MR PORTER’s new campaign, which celebrates good times with friends in the great outdoors and the second anniversary of our Health In Mind Fund. It seemed apt, then, to invite Takeshita to take us on an urban hike through the backstreets of Shibuya with his long-time walking companion and friend, Mr Shotaro Tsuda. Here, Takeshita tells us about why nothing beats a stroll through the city.
Mr Mitsuru Takeshita is wearing a printed mesh T-shirt by Comfy Outdoor Garment and bucket hat by Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa (exclusive on MR PORTER) both coming soon. Mr Shotaro Tsuda is wearing a padded down gilet and fleece sweatshirt both by Comfy Outdoor Garment, quilted tote bag by Nanga, and stretch shell pants and Salomon sneakers by And Wonder, all coming soon
Where does your interest in the great outdoors come from?
Mr Mitsuru Takeshita: I was a typical outdoor kid growing up in the countryside of Japan, testing my DIY skills and getting my hands dirty, surrounded by nature and living things. In my twenties, I was into street fashion. Going to music festivals helped me develop a love of functional design and street attire that was all about the outdoors. Outdoor activity in or out of a big city offers a sense of escapism, a route where you can forget your daily routine, but at the same time equip yourself with practical skills, knowledge and experiences that you can use in your daily life. I think the outdoors is a bit a Disneyland. It is a bit unusual and exciting at the same time – my happy place.
What made you start your magazine?
Back in 2007, I put together an idea to launch a magazine that combined the best of outdoor fashion, gear and lifestyle. That is how GO OUT magazine started. At the time, there were only die-hard outdoor activity titles on the market. I oversee the direction of online and print as well as brand activities including events, festivals and talks associated with the magazine. It is now a leading outdoor fashion title in Japan and there’s a Korean edition, too.
How did your friendship with Mr Tsuda come about?
I met Shotaro when he was a student. We were at my favourite Mexican joint, Baja, when I was contemplating the idea of putting together the magazine, so our friendship has been there as long as the magazine. Something clicked between us, which probably came from our mutual appreciation of things related to the outdoors.
How has your friendship helped you?
I wanted to do something that was not only a magazine, but also worked with outdoor festivals. Shotaro and I exchanged some ideas and I asked him to come and help with some events. His love of music and festivals took him over to England, where he covered all the major music festivals. He set up his website, Festival Life, after returning to Japan. Our friendship weaves in and out through our personal and work lives. Our love of the outdoors rubs off on each other, pushing us both to go further.
Where did you go on your walk in the city?
We went to Okushibu, or Oku-Shibuya, which means “deep in Shibuya”, through the alleys and backstreets. It’s often considered to be a neighbourhood that has a more peaceful atmosphere compared to the energetic and bustling main part of Shibuya.
What’s special about this area?
This neighbourhood has a great sense of community and has lots of independents. It’s only a stone’s throw from the bustling area of Shibuya, but you find new things opening and grassroots movements happening all the time. Walking in this neighbourhood gives me a sense of discovery. Coming across these small places by chance and meeting the people behind them is inspiring and keeps me on my toes. I love the small independent bookstores, such as SPBS, or the outdoor stalls near Yoyogi Park, or Little Nap Coffee, which is a great hangout for locals who love music and enjoy a bit of banter.
Why is walking through the city so important to you?
Tokyo is a fast-paced city. Walking here gives me a breather and I can slow down and see or discover news things in detail. It brings me closer to people and to the community. You see completely different scenery when you walk, as opposed to travelling by car or on the train. Walking through the city is a simple and accessible way for me to reconnect to people and nature.