Apocalypse NextWhy is Tokyo the canvas for so many disaster fantasies?

Apocalypse NextWhy is Tokyo the canvas for so many disaster fantasies?

Issue 32

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Arts & Culture

When I was a teenager living in Tokyo, I was told to imagine a dystopia for homework. I wrote a Japanified Handmaid’s Tale, where women were mandated to fully concen-trate on their biological functions. I included a scene in which teenage girls in class-rooms fed robot babies, while a metallic voice on an intercom told them that they were “baby-making machines.” This was an actual quote by Japan’s health minister in 2007, I commented, in a heavy-handed footnote. I handed it in, then forgot about it.

My school was in between Shibuya and Harajuku, which was as central Tokyo as you could get. The building was designed to be earthquake-proof; L-shaped and extra-bendy, it was supposed to absorb shockwaves better. When we did earthquake drills, we would rip into the emergency kits, sna...

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