Motions and Moments
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More About This Title Motions and Moments


Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants.

Based on Pronko’s 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sleep are steeped in insights into the city’s odd structures, intricate pleasures and engaging undertow.

Included are essays on living to size and loving the crowd, on Tokyo’s dizzying uncertainties and daily satisfactions, and on the 2011 earthquake. As in his first two books, this collection captures the ceaseless flow and passing flashes of life in biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail.


Michael Pronko has written about Japanese culture, art, jazz, society, architecture and politics for Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Artscape Japan, as well as other publications. He has appeared on NHK and Nippon Television doing video versions of his essays. He runs his own website, Jazz in Japan ( He teaches American Literature and Culture (novels, film, art and music) at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo and after discussing Kurt Vonnegut or Jackson Pollock in class is in the right frame of mind to wander Tokyo contemplating its intensity.



Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo


Note on the Glossary

Intro and In
City of Eyes

Part I: Surfaces

Why Ask Me?
The Language Dance
Urban Speed Poetry
Perfect Outfits
Don’t Drop It!
Cell Screen Tokyo
Public Tightness
Tokyo Asleep

Part II: Miniatures

Perfect Forms
Fitting Things In
Fitting Me In
Small Item Heaven
Give-Away City
My Toe in Tokyo
What’s in a Name?
Thousand Armed Kannons
Plastic City

Part III: Constructs

Construction and Resistance
The South Side Theory
Staying Grounded
Parting the Crowd
Double Construction
Ugliest City in the World?
Cleanliness, Tokyo-ness
Tokyo Symphony
Tokyo 24/7
The Summer Slowing

Part IV: Quaking

Are You OK? (March 18, 2011)
Shaken Up (June 20, 2011)
Earthquake Normal (October 2011)
Is This It? (April 2012)
That Was a Bad One (June 2015)

Part V: Serenities

Year-End Busy
Learning to Love the Crowd
Tokyo Comfort City
A Meal in the Hand
Tokyo's Traditional Pauses
Nature People
Jazz in Tokyo
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Hanami, and Just After

Arigato-s and Gozaimasu-ses



Gold Award Non-Fiction Authors Association

"This book sparkles and succeeds as alove letter of sorts to Tokyo. The author's writing is a joy to read, with wonderful phrasing and vivid descriptions...As someone who knows very little about Tokyo, I loved this book. As someone who appreciates good writing, I loved this book." 4 out of 4 stars

"This is a memoir to be savored like a fine red wine, crafted with supreme care by a man who clearly has fallen in love with his adopted city--and we are the beneficiaries of his lyrical reflections, making us want to visit and absorb the rich megalopolis of Tokyo forourselves." Publishers DailyReviews

"Each essay is like a self-contained explanation of one facet of life in the context of a grander conversation, and each one is a complete work in its own right...almost like a fictional novel ofshort stories and vignettes rather than a collection of essays." RyanJordan, Reader'sFavorite

"More so than almost any other treatment, it captures the nuances Westerners find puzzling about Japan andtranslates them into digestible, vivid insights no visitor should be without." D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"With each new essay opening yet another window into life in this magnificent city, the book vividly captures the depth and beauty of Tokyo, bringing to life the city and thelifestyle." Faridah Nassozi, Reader'sFavorite

"Pronko's style of writing is charmingly conversational and hard not to find yourself drawn into. Anyonefamiliar with, or wishing to become familiar with the quirks ofJapanese culture and Tokyo life, Pronko's essays are a wonderful start or addition to a breadth of knowledge. Pronko is an insightful author capable of seeing a deeper beauty in everything he writes, and this collection is something to behold." Self-Publishing Review,5 Stars

"From overcrowded commutes, tiny living spaces, and carefully thought outfits to sluggish summers, busy holidays, and terrifying earthquakes, Pronko's essays offer a unique perspective that neither tourists nor life-long residents can offer." IndieReader

"Each of his essays brought me closer and closer to an appreciation of the complex and complicated place Tokyo is,and the lifestyles of those who call it home. His writing style is conversational and smooth, and I found that after finishing one essay I was eager to dive into the next one right away." Jack Magnus, Reader'sFavorite