It is quite clear that I’m not alone in my nostalgia for the ’90s as women are now sporting midriff-baring flannel shirts and Vans sneakers; remakes of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Roseanne are being advertised; and bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Backstreet Boys are back on tour.
But it was during a two-week family holiday in Japan last fall that I felt as though I had stepped back in time and straight into the decade that defined my teenage years. I moved from New York to Tokyo in the ’90s and at nine years old, the city felt incredibly futuristic. Taxi doors opened on their own, vending machines provided both cold and hot drinks on every block, noodle shops had ticketing machines that took your order and sushi restaurants allowed diners to select from freshly prepared plates as they passed by on a conveyor belt.
Almost 30 years later, wandering down the streets of Osaka, I found those electronic devices still in use. Even the green public phones I inserted countless cards into when calling my parents to beg for a sleepover somehow still serve a purpose in a city that – like most of our planet – has the majority of its residents attached to their mobiles.