[The first paragraph of this piece was written in the Canton’s namesake, Chiyoda of Tokyo.]
Mention the name “Chiyoda” to anyone from Denver, and they’ll strike up a glowing conversation about its designer stores and development-rich avenues. Say the same thing to an Albeitian, however, and their response might be less than positive.
“I wish we could just pick the thing up with a helicopter and carry it off to a city that actually wants it. It would look great in Manhattan, or just about anywhere in Los Angeles.”
“You can just smell the jewelry. It’s repulsive. I wouldn’t touch the place with a 10 foot 24 karat, emerald-embossed, cologne-soaked pole.”
“What was that you said? I think you said, ‘football.’ That’s fine. I’d love to talk about football.”
Indeed, Chiyoda—the side of Albeit that fashion designers and celebrities know—has never been quite as popular as the other 10 Cantons. Just where did this Northwest district go wrong? Well, Albeit residents say, it was developed by a very prestigious design company that had gotten its bearings working on hotels in the Middle East. That alone was enough to make poeple wary. Worse yet, the developers gave luxury stores a subsidy on their rent in order to attract the “right kind of people” to Chiyoda.
The biggest blow came when the Globe, in one of its most famous sprees of investigative journalism, revealed that the developers were planning to build a barrier on the eastern side of the city. Why? To make sure that Graupel, then a crime-rich spot, would not leak vagrants into its rarefied borders. The red-faced management team pulled the plans, but Albeit had already made up its mind: this was not, by any means, a welcome part of the city. The only Canton in Northwest had, either from the Chiyoda Wall or the store subsidies, become the most-despised part of all of Albeit.
“Well, it’s honestly not part of the city, as I see it. I’d rather have the dunes to the south be a Canton than that consumer sinkhole,” one smoke-draped Slat resident expressed. “I mean, good heavens! They have an entire street—an avenue—for handbag shopping. Who does that? Who dedicates a street to handbags?”
“And the worst, really,” a woman said through a Noulevac window, “is that they act like they’re the better part of the city. I was just there the other day—wasn’t my choice, but they’re the only spot to get a TV repaired these days—and I hear a woman saying, ‘We’re the core of the city now, you know.’ Why, I wanted to go up to her and say, ‘Core? You’re a bloated Canton on the Northwest corner.”
Indeed, it can be hard to get a sense of the Canton through the less-than-objective mouths of Albeit proper. Perhaps the only thing to do is visit Chiyoda; to decide, amidst the supposedly obnoxious citizens and the supposedly snotty storefronts, if the Canton really is to be shunned.
On the outside, Chiyoda is not an ugly place. Wide, tree-stuffed avenues and sidewalks make up the core of the road network, eschewing frenzied intersections and mind-numbing road networks for a simpler pattern. Though Albeitians decry the Canton as a cookie-cutter development, it’s hard to overlook the colored bricks in the sidewalk, or the brick pedestrian bridges unique to the city. From an architectural standpoint, the Canton lives up to Albeit’s traditions of creativity.
“We’re not evil. We’re not obsessed with money,” a purse-less Chiyoda woman says. She points to the sidewalk. “See? We like art. We like aesthetics. We’re with Albeit on that one.”
Nor does Chiyoda seem to fit the picture of materialism and indifference from the inside. Next to a jewelry importer, there sits a teddy-bear store that regularly donates toys to a thrift store in Graupel. Children with smoothies can be seen running and laughing in front of a financial institution. Residents of Pacfyst might be surprised to know that Chiyoda, too has a block devoted to charities and social services. The department stores are visible, but their presence is not an overpowering one.
“I’ll take some friends from Graupel shopping, and they’ll be like, ‘Wow, that’s not the kind of store you see in Chiyoda.’ But I always try to explain to them that it is. We might have a little more money than the rest of the city, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be compassionate. It doesn’t mean we don’t eat hot dogs, or buy toys for our kids. There are playgrounds here, too.”
Granted, there are still divisions between Chiyoda and its neighboring Cantons—Chiyoda Wall or not. There is not as big an emphasis on creativity here, if only because those who are have since relocated. Very few secret societies have caught on. Neighbors rarely communicate, but not out of a secretive or mysterious streak; they simply have little interest in what those living alongside them are doing. Indeed, many who move here acknowledge that Chiyoda is lacking in some of the themes—independence, originality and mystery—that the city is known for.
Of course, there is some hypocrisy in the “mainlanders'” efforts to debase the Northwest Canton. Albeit has always claimed itself free from the exclusiveness and pompousness of other cities, yet the degrading of Chiyoda would say otherwise.
“How many times do I get someone on the Aluminum Line who says to me, ‘Unlike you people, we don’t judge someone by the clothes on their back?’ And how many times do I reply, ‘Aren’t you judging me by the Canton I come from?'” I love this city—I really do—but the people don’t realize how bigoted they can be.”
The exchange of words between Albeitians and Chiyodians is sure to continue, no matter what plans the developers have in mind. One will always be the cosmopolitan trash heap of fashion stars and business owners; the other will be the defender of originality and free living.
That, at least, is how the divide stands in the eyes of most Albeitians. But it would do the city well to peer out from their apartments and realize that there is no wall between one Canton and the other; that the barrier is purely mental.
Despite their differences in lifestyle, bank accounts and values, it’s not out of the question that Albeit can learn to embrace its purse-toting neighbor. Until then, the crosstalk with Albeit’s wealthiest Canton will continue.