Hi all, sorry its been so long since there was an update on here. I ran out of space on my computer to store images and had to wait for simulated pay day (I run a self enforced budget over here, where I get “paid” every fortnight on Wednesday) before I could buy another external hard drive to be able to store my stuff on.
Just quickly, a big hello to those of you who have picked up one of my cards from V-burger bar Floreat and made your way here. I hope you are all well and that the coffee and service there are as good or better now that I have gone. Thank you for visiting this page and I hope you enjoy seeing what I am up to. Sorry those cards are so spectacularly dark, they are poor enough that I am embarrassed by their quality. I got them printed internationally on the cheap and while the image looks fine on a computer screen, when printed like that it comes out significantly darker.
I have been up to quite a bit over the past few weeks, enough to mean I’m now talking about events almost two weeks old, so lets get started and I will see if I can clear the back log.
First, a picture to break up all this text!
Friday before last I decided to make the most of the last few days of the Sakura season and headed off in an attempt to get a Sakura flavored image of my favorite structure in Tokyo, Tokyo Tower. You might remember from several weeks ago my trip to see Tokyo SkyTree, the recently constructed worlds tallest freestanding tower and most advanced broadcasting platform. Well some 50 years earlier, Tokyo Tower was similarly the Brand new iconic architectural highlight of the Tokyo skyline. Completed in 1958 and measuring in at 333 meters in hight, Tokyo Tower was the worlds tallest self supporting steel tower, a title it still holds to this day. Until the Skytree project nearly half a century later, this tower remained the single tallest structure in Japan. The significance of Tokyo Tower stretches far beyond its physical form though. It is a cultural landmark as much as a physical one, one that underscores a period in time that is still defining and shaping much of modern Asia. The construction of Tokyo Tower during the 1950’s, a period when much of Japan was still reeling from the effects of the war, was seen by many as a Phoenix project and turning point symbolising the rebirth of Japan as a modern society and nation. After decades of natural disasters, rule by brutal militaristic authoritarian regimes followed by utter devastation during the closing days of the second world war, the construction of Tokyo Tower symbolised the emergence of Japan as a thoroughly modern democratic society and economy. To this end, it was decided that some 30% of Tokyo Tower’s construction materials were to be made from former military hardware such as tanks, smelted down and recycled into an this iconic landmark. It’s physical function may have been as a broadcasting tower, however the socio-cultural significance of this structure as the premiere celebration of Japan’s miracle economy was, and remains to this day just as just as important as its practical purpose.
Plus, its a pretty sweet looking building all dolled up in air safety orange. It has to be that colour, because according to Japanese regulations all broadcast towers over a certain hight must be painted air safety orange and white, lest someone fly into the heavily illuminated building.
Think think im just making up all this gobblety gook about its cultural status? I don’t blame you. It’s not the kind of thing that we often stop to think about, nor is it the kind of thing that is often explicitly stated (like this). However this often unspoken socio-cultural significance is most easily demonstrated in the way it repeatedly manifests itself in Japanese media. For example in post apocalypse settings, Tokyo Tower is time and again used as a metaphorical symbol of “the good old days,” depicted as a crumbling relic of better days gone by, or as a gleaming landmark of hope in the distance. Below are a handful of examples off the top of my head that i could easily get images for.
In a clockwise direction from the upper left.
1: Fragile Dreams. Long after the downfall of humanity Seto wanders through dilapidated city to reach Tokyo Tower, which gleams brightly in a world of perpetual twilight hoping to find other survivors. 2: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. When Tokyo is struck by a large earthquake, the damaged state of the tower is used to visually convey the vulnerability of humanity to nature despite all our advancement since the last Kanto earthquake in 1923. 3: Always San-Chome. A Japanese Academy Prize winning film set in the late 1950s exploring the rapid development of Tokyo at the time and subsequent improved living standards of the population. Tokyo Tower is a frequent motif used to underscore the advancement of Japanese society and wealth at the time.
So yeah, while Japan is full of hundreds of mind boggling, centuries old buildings made all the more amazing for their construction without any form of nails/screws. I find tokyo tower the most relevant to japan as we know it today. It talks of the rise of the society and culture that I love about Japan and stands as a reminder of a period of great change in which modern Japan was forged. It is a building of far greater relevance than most realise. Its also pretty and orange!!!
Tokyo tower also has some mascots. Why? Because its Japan and apparently just about everything needs, or rather has, a mascot here. No spectacular feat of modern engineering would be complete without a few of whatever these are meant to be!!!!
Tokyo tower is also semi surrounded by public parks. Most of Tokyo’s public and open parks seem to be have very little ground cover. I’m not sure if that’s because we are coming out of winter or not, but they have a tendency to look pretty bare in photos. Especially now with half of the trees looking dead. Still, this park just down the road from the middle of one of Tokyo’s busiest areas provides many people with a nice little escape from the hustle and bustle. I had lunch here looking up through the half sprouted canopy of leaves at the big orange tower. A crow stole someone else’s lunch because they tried to feed it next to a sign that says don’t. I found this most amusing
This day being fairly miserable and overcast with poor viability I decided not to go up Tokyo Tower, but it was really nice to go see the building again. I would have liked to have waited for a clearer day, taken more striking photos and have shown you the amazing views from the observation deck. but that can wait for another time. The reason I went this particular day rather than wait, was as I said before, because of the Sakura. By this stage warmer areas were almost completely finished and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer if I wanted majestic shots of Tokyo Tower with Sakura in the frame. In front of Tokyo tower, almost perfectly placed for photos together, is Zozo-Ji Temple. I don’t know a lot about Zozo-ji, there wasn’t a lot of information on display there so I will need to research it, however there were lovely views.
Im very glad I came here when I did. The trees today were losing flowers at a phenomenal rate and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me they were completely bare the next day. The constant rain of petals made the gardens around Zozo-Ji temple particularly nice. I imagine they wouldn’t be much to write home about on a normal day, but this day with the dense pink matt of fallen flowers, they were beautiful.
Around one side of Zozo-ji complex, is an area dedicated to unborn children. Here, countless stone statues of about a foot tall line walls to commemorate children lost to miscarriage, amongst other things. Many of these little graves have been decorated with small hats, jumpers, scarfs and other still have small toys left with them. The result is a beautiful display of colour and a moving monument. Along with the presents for the child I am told there is often a small gift left for OJizo-sama, the Buddhist deity who watches over the souls of lost children. Others have a small mound of stones, which are said to ease passage to the afterlife. I feel strange including a picture of a grave yard, and I originally was going to leave this out as a result. However I love the way this is done and the feeling you get from being there. It feels to me to be a much warmer way to treat the deceased than I am used to in Australia and a part of culture here I would love to learn more about.