Coffee Ramen-Food-Ohanajaya-Tokyo-Untapped Cities-Jonathan DeLise (3)

Here at Untapped Cities, we love coffee…and we love ramen. But have you ever thought to combine coffee and ramen into one dish? Well, a Tokyo café known as Aroma (亞呂摩) has done it. 

Ohanajaya is not exactly in the part of town where any tourist or local for that matter is apt to go. We learned of Aroma from a thread at a travel forum, and figured that coffee ramen needed to happen.


Local Roots NYC Winkler Partners 1

Walking out onto the roof of Winkler Partners Law Firm, arugula and strawberry plants frame the silhouette of buildings and mountain tops that make up the Taipei skyline. “Here’s my business card. That side is how I make money, the other is how I spend money,” says Robin Winkler, an American expat and our host for the day. The card states Winkler Partners Law Firm and the flip side reads Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association. His hobby, Wild at Heart, is the first environmental legal defense fund in Taipei, but his day job isn’t too bad either. The Winkler Partners office houses one of the first rooftop gardens in Taipei.  (more…)



Here’s a roundup of what the Untapped Staff has been enjoying this week for great city reads!

wish-jorge-rodriguez-gerada-belfastJorge Rodriguez-Gerada’s piece, “WISH,” is the largest land art in the United Kingdom. Photo via Arrested Motion.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

How many masterpieces have been painted using 4,000 metric tons of soil and sand and 30,000 wooden stakes? “WISH,” an installation by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, spans 11 acres through a field in a Northern waterfront sector of Belfast. According to The Atlantic, the shy smile depicted on those 11 acres belongs to a six-year-old Belfast resident, and Rodriguez-Garada hopes that her face will inspire a “genuine hope for a brighter future for all of us who share this land.” The installation should last until December 2013––or at least, until it’s plowed over by a forgetful farmer. (more…)

new york city-canned air-daily what-untapped cities-002Canned Air from New York City – on sale on Etsy for $10 (by photographer Kirill Rudenko)

With all the talk of the guy selling rocks from Brooklyn, we were reminded of this Etsy listing by Prague-based photographer Kirill Rudenko selling Canned Air from various cities. These $10 cans of air have various positive effects, as the listing describes, each can “relieves stress, cures homesickness 
and helps fighting nostalgia.”


Every big city has its own urban soundtrack. Tokyo, the world’s most populated metropolis, has a unique rhythm that plays in a loopy, mechanical yet orderly cadence. Sounds originate from all over, day and night, coming together to create a surprisingly harmonious and often beautiful melody.

Each season offers different sounds to decipher. In this article, we’ll explore 8 sounds that are a part of Tokyo’s summer soundtrack. You can follow the enclosed links to hear an example of the sounds being described.

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Takeshita Dori shop staff
Takeshita Dori is a busy pedestrian street in the teen- and tourist-friendly neighborhood of Harajuku. Here, dozens of colorful shops sell all the elements required to create daring outfits. In order to attract people into their stores, employees stand outside, imploring them to come in for a look. Though some callers keep the volume low and may only be heard once within sight, others plead loudly, sometimes using microphones in order to drown out the voices of others. A melodious cacophony ensues.

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Trains and rail transportation
In a large portion of the world, modern urban living has been dominated by cars. Not in Tokyo. Here, millions of people board trains every day. The summer season is especially busy, with many Japanese people traveling around the country during the Obon vacation period. In busy stations like Shinjuku, the continual flow of trains and people creates a rhythm that is punctuated by many particular sounds:

  • The voices of announcers, live and prerecorded
  • The screeching of brakes
  • Horns and bells announcing the arrival of trains
  • The smooth gliding of the wagons on the rails
  • The whistles of Oshiya (pushers) and conductors

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Music Buses
Japanese pop singers face lots of competition when trying to become famous and sell albums. One popular way to get attention is to use buses as moving billboards, with posters of their faces covering each side. Samples of music are played through speakers, letting people hear a glimpse of their songs.
These buses are often seen in the popular teen hangout spots of Ginza, Akihabara, Shibuya and Shinjuku.

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Pachinko parlors
Pachinko arcade machines are a popular leisure activity in Japan. People go to the parlors to unwind for a few minutes, which frequently turn into a few hours. The unbelievably loud volume of the hundreds of machines placed side by side is nearly unbearable for newcomers but seems to become background noise once you’re entranced into the game. In the summer, the constant drone spills out onto the sidewalks, through open doors and windows.

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Yoyogi park Rockabilly dancers
Every Sunday afternoon, members of the Tokyo Rockabilly Club meet at the entrance of Yoyogi Park, near the Harajuku train station. They put on quite a show, loudly blasting classic American Rock and roll or Japanese covers of such songs as they show off their slick dance moves.

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It wouldn’t be summer in Tokyo without the sound of the Semi (Japanese Cicada). The mating song emitted by males is one of the loudest insect-produced sounds in the world (up to 120 decibels). For those not accustomed to it, the volume can become quite overbearing as it plays almost non-stop during the daytime. Different species produce different sounds: some sing in a high-pitched manner, while others emit a softer trilling sound. The continuous repetition of the noise creates a buzzing that can come off as similar to an electronic, almost mechanical beat. Parks and tree-lined streets are the place to go to hear this sound.

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Street crossings
When 30 million people live in one city, street crossings, like the famous Shibuya pedestrian scramble, are bound to be noisy. As hundreds, even thousands of people walk from one street corner to another, many sounds emerge:
” ¢ The audible vibrations produced by the footsteps
” ¢ The clicking of heels so beloved by trendy Japanese women
” ¢ The music coming from headphones, cars and adverting screens on buildings nearby.
” ¢ The frequently used bird sounds and children’s nursery rhymes that help blind people cross the street
” ¢ The remarkably quiet but numerous conversations happening around you.

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Summer festivals
During the summer months, there are many festivals, big and small, happening in Tokyo. On any given day, there’s bound to be something happening somewhere on the city’s streets. Just as you are turning a street corner, you could find yourself right in the middle of a random festivity. The most frequent sounds of celebration heard in Tokyo are religious parades, pop concerts, and fireworks displays.

The mix of elements

Tokyo’s soundscape, much like its layout, works as an organized chaos. Sounds are constantly coming from everywhere, which can be a bit overwhelming for visitors who aren’t used to this type of noise level. However, when you take a minute to listen, every element you hear seems to come together in a strange but coherent pattern. It’s the beat of summer in Tokyo.