Designer cleverly shows a big difference between the two and reflects a unique part of Japanese culture.


The greatest place to be in Japan is in one of its big cities, teeming with delicious restaurants, innovative architecture, and unique cultural events…No, wait! The best place to be in Japan is out in the countryside, sampling the slow life or cleansing your spirit as you quietly connect with nature at a rural shrine, right?

Actually, it’s impossible to decisively choose between life in the big city (tokai in Japanese) and the countryside (inaka). But to help show a key difference between the two, Japanese graphic designer and Twitter user @15424578268 has prepared the following diagram.

▼ Big city (left) vs. countryside (right)

@15424578268’s exercise in minimalism is definitely elegant, but subtle enough that not everyone could grasp its meaning at first glance. “Sorry, I’m not smart enough to understand the difference,” lamented one commenter, but many other Twitter users think they’ve figured it out.

Still stumped? One helpful Twitter user shared a pair of photos representing the most convincing explanation, so when you’re ready, scroll down…
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In the city, the lights of the skyscrapers stay dazzling through the night, so much so that they outshine the light from the stars, making them all but invisible from the center of Japan’s most urban neighborhoods. Meanwhile out in the countryside, once night falls in earnest there’s often no light to be seen except from the stars above.

For his part, @15424578268 is remaining artistically silent as to his intended meaning, but the electric lights vs. shining stars interpretation is very convincing. It also speaks to an interesting aspect of Japanese culture, in that there’s widespread appreciation of the unique charms of both big cities and rural regions.

The vast majority of Japanese people spend at least some of their lives in vibrant, exciting cities like Tokyo or Osaka for work or education. Yet it’s also common to periodically go back to your family’s home town in the countryside to visit older relatives, especially during the summer obon holiday period, during which many enjoy having a respite from the fast pace and complexity of city life. So really, by showing that when you flip one over you get the other, @15424578268 has managed to wordlessly remind everyone that tokai and inaka are both beautiful sides of the same coin that is life in Japan.

Source: Twitter/@@15424578268 via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@15424578268