Urban Storytelling: Hitotoki
The hidden whimsy of cities, or what Parisian gardens have to do with the Tokyo subway.
By Maria Popova
We’ve always been fascinated by cities — they are living organisms whose narrative is constantly evolving. Which is why we love Hitotoki — a rather unorthodox exploration of the highly subjective cultural footprints of cities, creating a narrative map of the world.
Hitotoki is an online literary project collecting stories of singular experiences tied to locations in cities worldwide
The Japanese word Hitotoki connotes any brief, singular stretch of time. It’s roughly translated as “moment” and is comprised of two components: hito, “one,” and toki, “time.” Which perfectly captures the project’s ephemeral yet timeless quality as an anthology of vibes.
Started in 2007 as a collaboration between Tokyo design group AQ and Tokyo/Seattle-based indie publisher Chin Music Press, the project embodies that wonderful cross-pollination of ideas and disciplines that we believe is the driving force behind true innovation. Today, Hitotoki spans six cultural epicenters — Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Shanghai, and our hometown of Sofia. (It’s okay, we’ll save you some Googling — that’s in Bulgaria, which is not to be confused with Bolivia or Botswana or any of the other surprisingly misguided geographic guesses people make, and is actually in Europe.)
Beautifully designed and encrusted with superb typographic art direction, Hitotoki is a conceptual, aesthetic and cultural indulgence like no other. Be a part of this incredible project by submitting your own story about one of the existing cities, or by applying to be an editor for a brand new city.
Meanwhile, explore Hitotoki‘s fascinating literary landscapes — whether or not you’re familiar with the city itself, these rich, vicarious experiences unravel a new whimsical world you never thought existed behind the concrete reality of the big city.
Published October 14, 2009