The humans of Tokyo make this metropolis pulse with energy. We check in with four of the many Tokyo voices that make the cacophony a symphony.

Photo by Hiroki Nishioka

Koki Takahashi, Music Manager

Takahashi is the manager of Moon Romantic, an iconic livehouse in Aoyama that has attracted attention for its unique events and live performances that span all music genres and even extend to Noh theater shows. He is also involved in booking artists for various festivals.

What is your current obsession?

In addition to always thinking of the next international music act I want to bring to Japan, I’m really into learning Chinese at the moment.

How would you describe the current Tokyo music scene to those who don’t know it, using only one sentence?

Tokyo has everything from jazz to pop idols, and there are many high-quality artists, especially young and up-and-coming ones. (The bigger issue is getting the information …)

What is the best place in Tokyo for moon-gazing — aside from the giant indoor moon at Moon Romantic?

Yes, aside from Moon Romantic, I like looking at the moon from Aoyama Cemetery, which is near our venue.

If you could only choose one sound to represent Tokyo, what would it be?

Oh, this is difficult! I think it’s not a sound that you try to hear, but it’s one that you hear unconsciously in your ears — the overlapping voices of people passing by. That’s Tokyo.

Marina González, Designer and Illustrator

Better known as to her Instagram followers, González creates pastel illustrations with influences from the ’90s, anime, pixel art and Japan. She also takes photos, has a podcast and chases endless inspiration in this city.

​​What’s your current obsession?

Creating video teasers for my sticker collections! I’m so obsessed that I’m working on the video for my upcoming collection before I have the actual stickers ready.

Your most recent collection, “Midnight Heartbreak,” imagines a breakup on Shibuya Crossing. Conversely, what’s a good place in Tokyo to fall in love?

I was tempted to say something related to cherry blossoms, but the first place that popped into my mind is Odaiba. Despite being a man-made island dominated by steel and concrete, it possesses a certain charm.

You explored the colors of Japan through your “Pantone Pixel Japan” collection. If you could assign only one color to Tokyo, what would it be?

Vibrant red, reminiscent of Tokyo Tower at night. This landmark is a significant presence in many of the anime from my childhood, such as Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon.

When does Tokyo feel like home?

I see Tokyo as a transient city, forever in motion, and it’s the people around me who truly make it feel like home. It merely serves as a backdrop for these connections, and its significance becomes somewhat irrelevant to the sense of belonging. It’s almost contradictory, but it’s true!

Dr. Jackie F. Steele, Political Scientist, Entrepreneur and Not-For-Profit Leader

In addition to her professional activities, Steele is the representative director and president of FEW Japan, a not-for-profit association for globally minded English-speaking women who want to learn and grow with each other. She is also the proud mother of two children.

What’s your current obsession?

My daughter and I enjoy watching Never Have I Ever together.

Who are some women in Japan right now that you admire?

I admire every woman who gives her time and expertise to support women-serving organizations in Japan. Our not-for-profit board is the reason this organization has had such a lasting impact, and we are currently raising the bar for our 22nd Career Strategies Seminar. Collectively, we are creating a brave community and innovative networking opportunities for all the diverse women who call Japan home.

Tell us a recent example of a positive change in terms of FEW Japan.

Since the pandemic, we have pivoted to go all digital and have started building a national outreach strategy to engage and include women outside of Greater Tokyo. This has led to a huge membership increase, and many more women benefit from the dynamic activities of FEW Japan.

What’s your favorite thing about Tokyo that makes it unique?

I love the diversity of architecture, art, lifestyles, cultures and the creative people who make this vibrant megalopolis so dynamic.

Yuki Kumiko, Politician and Minato Ward Chairperson

The first woman chairperson in Minato ward and a single mother of two who gave birth as a member of the ward’s assembly, Kumiko is truly an inspirational figure. She champions not only female empowerment but also internationalization, sustainability, environmental education and intergenerational exchange.

What’s your current obsession?

I am passionate about building projects focused on maintaining physical and mental well-being, such as providing real-life experiential activities. This includes interactive programs involving professional athletes in sports, as well as therapies that provide relaxation and nature experiences not easily accessible in urban areas.

What’s one of your favorite spots in Minato ward, where you were born and raised and where you now serve as a chairperson?

Tokyo Tower is the symbol of Minato ward. One of my favorite views is the sight of Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower as seen from Shiba Park.

What would you say is the best thing about Tokyo?

I have visited many countries, but when it comes to food, I believe Tokyo’s restaurants have a remarkably high level of quality, ranging from humble establishments to upscale dining experiences.

What’s your favorite season in Tokyo?

Without a doubt, it’s spring. The gentle breeze feels pleasant, and the cherry blossoms are incredibly beautiful.

Read the previous installments of TW’s Voice of Tokyo.