Edmund Gordon

Tokyo through the lens

The teeming, neon-strafed megalopolis was an intoxicating place to live as a young film student in the 1970s

In 1975, the 24-year-old Ian Buruma (now an award-winning essayist and historian, and the editor of the New York Review of Books) left his native Holland to study film at the Nihon University College of Art in Tokyo. It was a bold move. The 1970s was a wild, tumultuous decade in Japan, often known as the Showa Genroku, after the hedonistic period at the end of the 17th century, and Tokyo came as a shock to the few Westerners who went there: a teeming, neon-strafed megalopolis, where the trappings of hypermodernity jostled with elements of a sublime tradition, and the...

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