I AM IN JAPAN, in Tokyo to be precise: looking out of my hotel bedroom window, from the thirty-sixth floor of a huge tower, at this vast modern city stretching out to the horizon and beyond. I’ve been to Tokyo before but, up high, this
near-bird’s-eye view is destabilizing and denaturing.

Not that there’s much nature in sight. On the cluttered roofs of the skyscrapers and office blocks that I can look down on there appear to be elementary gardens, small square patches of turf and shrubs fitted between the generators, elevator engines, air-conditioning units and the windowcleaning gantries. A tiny gesture of wishful-thinking carbon-capture photosynthesis in response to the tonnes of carbon dioxide this city must spew forth.

If I half close my eyes and lose focus, the colours of the glass-and-steel buildings of the city merge into a mosaic of beiges and greys, predominantly, with the odd variation of brown, pale blue and bottle green – it looks like a gigantic pebble beach, thousands of square miles in area, but the pebbles are rectangular not round.

read the full article (PDF)