Adding to the burgeoning variety of reviews that Reading Other People has been posting, Michael Pronko’s refreshing “Motions and Moments More Essays on Tokyo” can best be described as a cultural reveal on one of the most fascinating parts of the modern world.
The piece is collectively comprised of essays that brilliantly looks at fragments that, as a respective whole, help to identify and shed light on what life in Tokyo is really like. Instead of falling into the trap of focusing on the sensationalism of certain types of Tokyo life (I’m thinking the misappropriation by Americans of the Harajuku culture), Michael Pronko documents the many moving pieces of Japan’s capital city and sheds key insights and revelations into the ubiquity of Japanese living.
Among my favorites of the 42 essays is the state of cleanliness of Tokyo-ian construction sites where Pronko documents his experiences with the apparent constant state of cleaning in this mammoth city. In his words, it’s like Tokyo has been photoshopped for optimum beauty, including construction sites. Fascinating stuff. The author isn’t judging, analysing, or speculating here. He is merely an observer in a foreign country that operates on its own ideals and principles, and, simply put, is writing about what he sees without the rose-colored glasses that so often shades Western culture.