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Evaluation of Tokyo Times

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bahb
Words 754
Pages 4
Pictures with Words.
The first image people think of when Tokyo is mentioned is a majestic night view from afar with dazzling skylights and neon signs. For most individuals, that is the only image they can think of. In reality, Tokyo is just like any other busy and crowded cities in the world. It too, has days of unclear sky, places that no one visits, and stories never told. Perhaps this is the reason that drove Lee Chapman, a British photographer, to create a photography blog about this wonderful city. Started out as a two year visit in 1998, Lee decided to “stay put” in Japan – as he put it in his description – for a number of reasons. Armed with a Leica, a Nikon, and a variety of lenses, this long term resident of Tokyo aims to capture and share with the world the many moments untold of the city. While the site, predictably named Tokyo Times, doesn’t receive a lot of attention, it does serve its purpose: to show everyone that there is more to Tokyo than the busy streets, the shiny colors, or the pretty lights.
At first mention of the name, the users may think Tokyo Times will be colorful with flashy effects and curly fonts as the website is about photographs of Tokyo. However, they may find the actual page’s design surprisingly simple and clean. Excluding the colors from the photographs, Lee’s website only consists of four main colors with contrasting combinations: mainly black and white, a dash of red here and there, and the grey background. One may infer that the color theme is related to the actual process of making photographs: the black and white negatives have to be developed in a dark room which contains red lights.
Along with the color theme, the simple font reinforces the clean look for the website. Using Helvetica with double spacing, Lee makes sure that each entry is clearly readable by all users. Although each photograph can speak for themselves, the creator provides a short narrative text, either insightful or informative, to stir up conversations among the audience. It is quite an effective method to nudge the viewers to voice their opinion – whether for or against – without making them feel forced.
The entries are divided into two simple main categories: Photographs and Haikyo/Ruins, both dealing with very different aspects of Tokyo. With Photographs, the viewers can learn about the nooks and crannies of the city, the not so fortunate lives that keep moving in parallel with their richer counterparts, or even the meaningful traditions hidden within the skyscrapers (Figure 1). While Photographs portrays lives with people, Haikyo/Ruins reveals the story that people left behind, the story of life without humanity. Haikyo literally means ‘ruins’ in English. The word is used to describe a hobby known as Urban Exploration, in which individuals would explore abandoned buildings or complex to observe the decaying of time without disturbing the scene. Through his Haikyo photographs, Lee manages to bring out a darker, grittier side of Tokyo that its citizens chose to forget to move forward into the future.
Asides from the contents, the navigation of the site is quite simple. On the top of the page, one can find the necessities of what a blog needs: About, Contact, Archives, RSS, and Search Bar. While Lee puts a Twitter link to his twitter account, no Facebook link can be found. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the website hasn’t got the recognition it deserves.
A nice touch from the creator can be seen in almost every entry. Within the narrative text, he embeds a number of links to perk the audience’s curiosity even more. The links can be about a news entry from another site, or just a link to his other entries that are relevant to the current one. This creates a feel of continuity and makes the experience more enjoyable for the viewers. A clear disadvantage of this method is, however, that people may mistakes those links to spam or ads link generated from Google, thus discouraging them to explore more.
Despite all the little flaws deterring newcomers, Tokyo Times has developed a small group of loyal audience over the years. Some of the viewers are even inspired enough to actually visit Tokyo themselves to experience what Lee Chapman captured on photographs. Truly the website has succeeded showing the world the inner beauty of Tokyo behind the skyscrapers and busty streets.

Figure 1 - A photo that captures Japanese traditions.…...

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