The White Paper is an informal archive of feature articles and projects by Ben Davis.
Ben is an Australian-born editor and consultant who has been based in Tokyo since 2010. With a background in sustainability consulting and a degree in engineering, his work is inspired by the way people think, live, work and play in this complex mega city.
He is the former editor of online magazine The Thousands Tokyo and has developed content for a range of clients including Dentsu, All Nippon Airways, Seiko, The Future Laboratory, Protein and Right Angle Studio. His work has also featured in publications such as Monocle, LS:N Global and Assemble Papers.
“Originally home to the Tokyo rice brokers who managed stock arriving by way of the Sumida River, the low-key neighbourhood of Kuramae later became known for the craftsmen who flourished in its small-scale factories and workshops. More recently the area’s dwindling number of ageing craftsmen has been boosted by a wave of young creators, attracted by affordable spaces and the opportunity to build their own business in Kuramae’s storied streets.”
“When you first catch sight of Pasona HQ your eyes transfix – unable to divert nor wander. Located at the intersection of two busy avenues in Tokyo’s downtown business district of Nihombashi, the verdant building appears to move with its own natural rhythm against a backdrop of hulking concrete towers.”
“It is a rare yet brilliant moment when you come across a place that, having been crafted with the warmth and attention to detail usually reserved for private spaces, feels so comfortable that you can’t help but want to make it yours for the day. Tucked away in a former residence just off the Nishihara shotengai, Paddlers Coffee is a cafe with a homely charm that has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite since opening its doors earlier this year.”
“With the exception of a handful of busy thoroughfares, the general lack of traffic (at times there’s more pedestrians than cars) not only allows for stress-free riding, but gives you the piece of mind to explore and delve into the area at your own pace. Therein begins the simple pleasure of cruising the famous curves of Hebi Michi, the mellow street that divides Yanaka and Sendagi, not to mention the arms-width laneways and the occasional rolling hill that quickly sends you down into the backstreets.”
“Almost as remarkable as the toast is that fact that the old-style cafe has remained largely unchanged since the two brothers helped their late father open its doors in 1971, shortly after they graduated from the now-closed barista’s college in Shimbashi.”
“All too often a casual visit turns into an enjoyably long undertaking, so much so that it’s not unusual to find an assortment of people – from yoga instructors to photographers and university students – casually lingering mid-chapter, mid-conversation, mid-coffee (or some combination thereof) on the motley circle of armchairs and couches.”
This video feature follows me on a journey across the city and back again as I visit some of the places and people – from craftsmen to bakers and a nomadic artist – that have become a part of The Thousands’ community.