The NY Times ran this piece a while back and my dad pointed it out to me, knowing my interest in Japan.
Apparently the author is upset that the Hotel Okura is rebuilding. Apparently a lot of people are.
The New York Times article acts as if this a loss of history and as if the Japanese never preserve anything. Well I don’t consider modern buildings built in the 1960’s historical, and it isn’t hard to find all sorts of old buildings in Japan or Tokyo, for that matter. Still Japan doesn’t have the sense of permanence in structures that many nations do. If you look at even the oldest structures in Japan they tend to have a sort of temporary feel to them. It’s the difference between elegance and simplicity of a Budhist temple and bulk and majesty of the pantheon or a gothic cathederal.
I’ve posted about Tokyo Before. It’s a city of contrasts. Of course you have to get out and explore the city, something the New York Times seems have a problem with.
And sometimes it rushes a bit to much and tears away the old to make way for the new.
Still there’s the problem that the old just doesn’t want to go away, no matter how abandoned it is.
There’s also the fact that Tokyo especially, has been knocked around hard by one conflagration or another.
What Japan does have is a sense of sameness when construction is sound and a lot of experimentation. Like this small building for instance.
Or the Ghibli Museum.
Which is hardly the only strange building in Mitaka
Tokyo certainly doesn’t lack for architectural diversity. Including some very strange ideas.
Even if the businesses that occupy them have a sleazy reputation.
Still, even the most solid businesses can go to the strange.
Even is some of the decisions seem to have been rather strange.
In Tokyo, even the city government gets a classy building.
True, people looking for Frank LLoyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo will be disappointed, because the hotel was demolished and the lobby is at the Meiji Mura Museum in Nagoya, but there is the girl’s school in Ikebukuro.
Going even further back there are preserved buildings in parks
Considering Japan’s downright strange address system you would think that having lots of buildings easily distinguishable would be considered a necessary part of the city.
Though some things can be overdone
though being creative is never a bad thing.
Of course there are those who reach for the truly weird, and achieve it.
And it’s not to say that Tokyo has had a total loss.
There are old buildings in the Ginza
And railroad stations.
Still, Tokyo is one of the best places to see what’s current in architecture.
The really strange thing is that even right next to the shiny towers of Tokyo, you can find bits and pieces of old Tokyo it you know where to look, tucked away in narrow streets and alleys, building and shops from The Showa era and earlier. Still, Tokyo is a living city and that means change. Which sometime means that a structure, no matter how beloved has to and be replaced by the next structure.
Anyway here’s a flikr album of Tokyo and Japanese architecture, the large and the small.