A photographer’s journey through the rich texture of Japan’s vibrant megacity

Current Japan David Guttenfelder / National Geographic

For National Geographic magazine’s Cities Issue, I walked across Tokyo, the world’s most populous city.

The distance, from boundary to boundary, is about 60 miles. But photographers, like me, never walk in a straight line. Searching for pictures, we zigzag and we back-track. We wander in circles. We get lost. So, by the end of my assignment in Tokyo, I’d walked hundreds of miles and made tens of thousands of pictures and videos. Walking everywhere proved to be a bit harder, but was the best way to explore this complex city and to serendipitously stumble upon moments I’d have never imagined or planned. Unlike me, Tokyoites don’t usually commute at street level. They travel underground on perfectly timed trains, seldom crossing the city on foot.

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