Directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson • Documentary • 2013 • 63 minutes
Tokyo is a digital metropolis and wellspring of spectacular pop culture, its commercial crossroads carpeted with people day and night. Above them, watching from perches on buildings and power lines, are more than 20,000 crows. As their numbers soared in recent years, Tokyo fought back: trapping them, destroying nests, and securing trash. The crows adapted; they are among the smartest of animals. The 13 million people of Tokyo now live alongside them in a stalemate.
TOKYO WAKA tells this story, and a larger one as well. A Buddhist priest comments on garbage as the remnants of desire; a gardener considers the relentless persistence of nature amidst urban grit; a homeless woman talks about forging community in her tent village deep in the corner of a city park. TOKYO WAKA gives these smart, opportunistic crows their due, but the film is ultimately an episodic and discursive poem about the life and culture of Tokyo, one of the great cities of the world.