Small vehicles of Tokyo

A slim cataloguing of the rich diversity of small vehicles that help shape street life in the world’s largest city

Dan Hill
Published in
22 min readAug 16, 2021

--

Unusually for me, this is a post with little in the way of context. Rather, it is simple, recorded observation. As part of an endless enquiry into what makes good streets tick, over four short visits to Tokyo in 2018 and 2019—during The Days In Which We Flew—I started cataloguing ‘the small vehicles of Tokyo’, recognising them as an ingredient of the city’s beguiling street condition.

The kind of Tokyo neighbourhood street I’m talking about. What you see is partly unlocked by what you can barely see.

I’ve written enough about walking around the city’s neighbourhoods (Ed. Really?) What follows is a quick sampling of a hugely diverse range of small vehicles—the tip of the tip of the iceberg—that also contribute to the quality of the city’s streets. I’ll no doubt update it with each subsequent trip I take.

It’s like a version of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, but with an emphasis on the Things That Go rather than the Cars and Trucks. And set in Tokyo. Imagine the drivers as tanuki rather than cats and dogs.

--

--

Dan Hill

Designer, urbanist, etc. Director of Melbourne School of Design. Previously, Swedish gov, Arup, UCL IIPP, Fabrica, Helsinki Design Lab, BBC etc