Subway Wall [washi tape]
Visitors always ask the same questions, right? “What is your favorite thing to do here,” “What foods should we try,” “Where should we try them,” etc. Living in a destination city and hosting visitors comes with responsibility! I’ll be the first to say I could definitely spend some more time watching Rick Steves videos and reading Wikipedia in order to enhance my guests’ visits. Often, they arrive at my home, knowing more about the sites they want to see from their pre-trip research than I do! That said, they’re always interested in my help exploring this stop on their trip, and I like to do the best I can to accomplish that for them. It requires a strategy.
While living in San Francisco, we kept a spreadsheet of our favorite restaurants. Nerdy, I know, but what else would you expect from two recently graduated accounting majors? We had it all decked out with categories and filters, which, in our minds, made it super accessible and easy to navigate. Ha. Were we wrong. Maybe to another couple of businesses majors, but it definitely didn’t pan out like we thought. Even we lost interest in keeping it updated after a while.
Eventually we moved from San Francisco to Tokyo, another destination city with lots of things to see and food to try. Rather than start up a new spreadsheet we though, “new city, new method.” This time we’ve taken a more visual approach: a washi tape rendition of the city! Rather than a file on the computer, it takes up an entire wall of our guest room!
In the middle of the wall is the station nearest our house. From there we drew in the major subway and train lines with washi tape, marking other stations along the way. Each station has an envelope pinned to the wall, where we collect the business cards, fliers, and tickets from various restaurants and other sites we’ve seen in the city. Now, when we welcome guests to our home, we have a visually appealing piece of art to show them, helping them get oriented to the city they travelled so far to see, right away! Plus, at the end of their trip, it's fun to include our visitors in adding to the wall with new places or food we discovered with them.
This could easily be applied to any city. With the purpose of visitors in mind or not, it’s an interactive way to document your time in a city, similar to a scrapbook or a home video. Mark the major neighborhoods around your house, where you spend your time, and start filling up those envelopes!