Spend enough time in Tokyo and you can start to notice certain paradoxes, like how a city that feels so busy can sound so quiet. You may also find that, despite its sprawling footprint, the best way to experience the city is on foot. Its walkable nature is partly what has made Tokyo a destination rivaling Paris or New York for street photography.
On a recent visit in late October and early November, the city was uncharacteristically warm. As one local put it, “Japan seems headed toward having just two seasons per year.” I spoke to her with the help of Momo Angela Ohta, a photographer in Tokyo who accompanied me around the city as an interpreter.
Although the climate during my trip did not exactly reflect the season, there were sartorial signs of fall. At Yoyogi Park lots of people wore autumnal earth tones that recalled the park’s natural palette. Elsewhere, others dressed in plaids, corduroy and a variety of layers.
There was no shortage of personal style in neighborhoods like Shimokitazawa, which was one of the best for spotting and buying vintage fashion. Getting locals to stop and be photographed was easy enough, but when asked what drove their clothing choices, many responded with a sort of humility, offering only a few hints. In Harajuku, a district known for bright colors, I was surprised to see lots of outfits that incorporated black. I took it as just another of Tokyo’s paradoxes.