3.8.16

I got married yesterday

7 years and still the same.

1.8.16

Monday morning in Kabukicho

I also took photos of a life-size Godzilla and the New Sky / Gunkan / Battleship Building, but those photos came out a bit too boring to be posted directly here.

17.7.16

K Museum; Sony Building



The K Museum, or K building in Ariake, a 20 min walk either way from Tokyo Teleport or Kokusai-Tenjijo, was meant, I think, to house a museum of infrastructure. Makoto Sei Watanabe designed it, together with parts of its landscaping. As far as I know, it has never been in use. These days it just sits next to the bridge over to Odaiba, unknowing of whether it is forgotten, or has forgotten itself. Yesterday there was an impromptu water park set up next to it, and cosplaying teenagers were having photoshoots in its adjacent park.

Later in the evening we went to Ginza, to have a closer look at Yoshinobu Ashihara's Sony Building. It opened in 1966 and is slated for demolition next year. A couple of years ago it underwent an extensive refurbishment, where the focal point of the building - a gameboy-like facade with light behaving like pixels - was removed. For decades, the facade had been lit up in various patterns, symbols and messages, themselves icons of a futurist Japan at the time when colour-TV was considered a work of the devil to older people in Sweden.

Now the dizzying showreel is moving to Ginza Place, a rather disgusting piece of work I suspected a big name was behind when we passed by it last thing yesterday on the way to the metro. Today it turned out to be Klein Dytham, arguably the most respected and successful "foreign" office in Tokyo. They have a thing for cheesy patterns, I think.

Because of the previous refurbishment, it's very hard to tell what remains of the original design in the Sony Building today, apart from the general massing. The facade has been reduced to a generic billboard, at times given a slight nod to a more dignified past, as contemporary artists are picked to attach some kind of temporary piece of visual art to it. The overall feeling though is one of regression. Although I know nothing of the practical reasons behind the removal of the original facade, it stands out as yet another example of the collective amnesia (more positive: material transcience) of Japanese cities and architecture.

The first floor of the Sony Building has a curious entrance to an English pub attached to it. Spared the spotlights of brash product exposure, it's easy to miss. The sign on the door tells us it's celebrating 50 years in Ginza this year - 1966-2016. I couldn't help wondering if this pub had been there since the very inauguration of Ashihara's building. That to me is Japan, a Victorian, mahogny-clad pub sharing stairwell with an illuminated machine.

14.7.16

a day outside the house

Yesterday, as I exited the turnstars between the blue line platform and Center Minami station, I walked by a small impromptu market stall, with two middle-aged men in wheelchairs behind the tables. One of them wore glasses, and was black. They sold bread. There was a sign hanging at one end of the table, with "bread corner" spelt out in hiragana and katakana. Two nurses stood next to the men; one of them addressed the black man. His responded was slow and clumsy, with a voice that faded away before he had finished. His eyes turned back to the table and the tiny buns there in plastic bags. He smiled a bit, then more widely, in his impeccable baker's hat, baker's clothes, and wheelchair.

I saw them only briefly, but I could understand why they were there and what they were doing. They were not doing macho 14-hour white-collar Abenomics business. They were not even running a company. The black man was a patient from a local nursing home. Assisted by others, he had baked buns which he now sold for nothing outside a shopping mall in Yokohama. Although that's all I know of him, and likely all I will know, his appearance, his quiet mix of embarrassment and pride of having made these things and being able to give them to others, seemed very rare in this city.

As much as people want to be strong and self-sufficient and achieve if not great things then at least things to be noted, when you see someone achieving more - with an afternoon in a nursery home kitchen - than you could ever print out with your portfolio after 10 years and innumerable nights and early mornings in architecture school and practice, it's hard not to ask who is the wisest, who is the most capable, all while you see - in those eyes looking away - that wish to just be able to take care of a normal life, and the knowledge of never being able to do so.

We came back from the mall and the grocery store. The tables were gone. Neither the nurse, the black man, nor his friends were there. Again the white floor, the wide clean windows over the tracks, and the gates to the blue line. Still, going home, going to sleep, waking up and going through another day, I find myself wanting to go back there. I would like to see him again, read the sign that says "bread corner", and I would like to buy a bag of buns this time.

11.4.16

memory

very strange.
those things we keep seem to tell us everything about who we were at that point
until we cannot remember anything else, and start to shift who we were
with what we seemed to be.

Tokyo tomorrow ...
where have I ever been?

9.4.16

suddenly Hertzell

Like walking through a Barbican confusing itself with Stirling and a repainted Hunstanton School.