by Max Barry

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Miraito (capital city)

City name: Miraito (未来都)
Meaning: "Future Metropolis" (in Hatsunese)
Mayor: Katsuko Takenaka
Population (2020): 20,393,067
Area: 3942 km2 (1522 sq mi)
Location: Capital prefecture on the island of Hokkaitō (northern Hatsunia). Nearby is Mt. Saki, the tallest mountain in Hatsunia.
Major industries: Software, electronics, aerospace, and automobiles
What is the city famous for?: A global hub for innovative technologies and pop culture, concerts featuring virtual singers, Miraito Snow Festival (every February)
Importance: Seat of government, cultural and economic capital (especially in information technology), tourist attraction
Tallest building: LinkSky Mile Tower (1580 m)

Miraito is the capital city of Hatsunia, located on the northern island of Hokkaitō, and has been the capital since 1868. In the past few decades, the city has become host to a major information technology industry known as the "Silicon Metropolis," thanks to the development of a venture capital ecosystem, military and civilian scientific investment, and university-industry connections. Miraito is home to many major tech companies and startups, like Crypton Future Media (software and electronics), Ongakuten (online retail), mixu (social networking), and Softhouse (internet services and AI). Massive investments have been made in improving transportation and ICT infrastructure. Robots and gadgets are ubiquitous, and there are many wi-fi hotspots. Tourists can visit many high-tech areas like the Mikihabara shopping district, and Daikoku, where new technologies (like augmented reality smartglasses) are showcased. The University of Miraito is renowned for its computer science and software engineering courses. Artificial intelligence and supercomputing are major fields of research and development. One issue is that the booming industry and limited land space have resulted in a housing crisis, so a 1580-m-tall skyscraper called the Sky Mile Tower along with other megaprojects were built as part of the "Neo Miraito" development plan.

Where Silicon Valley is busy creating the “software future” founded on the assumption of ubiquitous connectivity and powered by code, Tokyo has charged headlong into the “hardware future,” still churning out physical devices, valuing manufacturing over coding. Japan is still “making screens”, when most people already own screens (and the ones who don’t yet are so price-sensitive that Japanese companies will bankrupt themselves competing with Chinese, Taiwanese and Indian companies to serve them).

It’s no coincidence that Tokyo looks like the future as imagined in the 1980s. The 1980s was the last decade during which it was not yet clear to most that that the internet and software would reshape whole industries and take the lion’s share of value in the economy.

But what if Tokyo was like Silicon Valley in creating the "software future"?

LinkHatsune Miku (Japanese: 初音 ミク) is the name of a Vocaloid software voicebank... meaning "the first sound of the future"

The State of Hatsunia