Lokafyer Profile: Catching up with Felipe from Tokyo

The bustling city of Tokyo makes its way to everyone's bucket list at least once in their lifetime- and who can blame us? From revelling in the city landmarks, shopping in Shibuya and indulging in the finest Japanese cuisine the city can offer- who could possibly resist this practically irresistible city. We caught up with Felipe, one of our Lokafyers based in Tokyo, Japan and spoke about what he loves most about the city, his interests and his favourite memories with Lokafy.

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Hello Felipe! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Felipe, an urban specialist and scholar of the department of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo. I worked as a consultant for the UN-Habitat on metropolitan governance and regional planning, and worked as a consultant for the World Bank on land development and plus-value capture practices, among other consultancies. I authored some books and academic papers, including the latest “Land Readjustment: Solving Urban Problems Through Innovative Approach” (ed. 2018 with Takeo Ochi and Akio Hosono). Nowadays, I work as a consultant for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on transportation and land use planning.

Why did you decide to join Lokafy?

I joined Lokafy back in 2018 when I was working on my PhD thesis at the University of Tokyo. Being a full-time PhD candidate getting prepared for the final defence can be very stressful and lonely. I applied for a position as Lokafyer in order to (i) do something else other than my thesis development, (ii) meet new people on every tour, (iii) take them to show places and explain exciting details about them, and (iv) make some money while having fun. In sum, I found the perfect match to de-stress from my Ph.D.-related activities.

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What do you love most about your city?

Tokyo is full of discrepancies where heritages meet modern buildings, conservative salary men meet cool cyberpunks, and every corner and small alley hide some exciting gems. Besides that, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world and, at the same time, gathers punctual and efficient public transportation, clean water, beautiful parks, and safe streets.

If someone comes to visit you, where would you take them to eat?

I would take anyone to eat at Kaiten-Zushi. Kaiten-Zushi is a sushi restaurant where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table, counter, and seat. Customers may place special orders and the final bill is based on the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi.

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When you’re not working for Lokafy, what do you like to do for fun?

I love walking around Tokyo to find out new places (parks, museums, restaurants, and bars).

What is your favourite travel memory?

A tour in Tokyo that started in the Samurai Museum aiming to connect visitors with 700 years of history – from Kamakura to the Edo period – and aiming to introduce them to the brave spirit that made Japan famous. After that, we went to the Tokyo-Edo Museum housed in a unique-looking building that vividly illustrates the past of Tokyo. Through numerous models of towns and life-sized figures, you will be able to learn about various aspects of early Tokyo. In the end, I took travellers to my favourite place in Tokyo: the sacred place of Meiji Shrine, built to praise the Emperor responsible for the rapid modernization process of Japan.

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What is your favourite tour memory?

The following debate I had with a lovely German couple: “Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo and has undergone major transformations, from its feudal period to the post World War II recovery process. How did a small village, incomplete in its basic infrastructure, the target of several natural disasters, and devastated by World War II, managed to achieve the rank of one of the world's greatest economic powers?”

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Have you kept in touch with any travellers?

Of course. It is not uncommon that some of them like to keep in touch as sometimes they forget names of some places we visited, names of the food we eat and also recommend a Lokafyer to other friends and family members.


Answers provided by Felipe Francisco de Souza, 2021

Edited by Jade Encila, 2021