Squeezed between the two central Tokyo hubs of Shinjuku and Harajuku, Yoyogi is rarely a destination for tourists — more of a two-minute halt that breaks up the journey to somewhere else. But this month, ecological troubadour Takeshi Kobayashi, producer of multi-million-selling rock-band Mr. Children, opens the gates to Yoyogi Village, a multi-purpose melange of environmentally friendly stores, organic restaurants, coffee shops and event spaces he hopes will regenerate the overlooked district.
"A small circle of life can turn into a big wheel," says Kobayashi as we sit in Yoyogi Village's all-night music bar. "There is no philosophy or vision within the government at the moment, so the private sector has to lead when it comes to selling ecology and the economy."
Yoyogi Village is just the latest ambitious project by the producer who, affected by the events and effects of 9/11, has launched a string of initiatives that all seek to counterbalance modern society's obsession with materialism and ambition by highlighting the values of simplicity and nature.