Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Was off to Ginza today, the Bloor Street equivalent, albeit Ginza is on a massive scale and encompasses a large area. I am not sure if this is regular or apart of Golden Week here, but Ginza's streets where shutdown and opened to the public. Canopies and street seating were placed down the middle of the road and the public appropriated the space. 

Ginza is a site of massive popularity and I always find these sorts of area's troublesome. These areas are always full of Brandnames and names that are typically found all over the world. Most of the stores located there are also located in Toronto, New Work, San Fran, etc. Architecturally though, Ginza is far more interesting than most places and for Tokyo... Ginza is a particularly. Its streets are massive and straight and buildings are large monoblock developments. This gives Ginza a unique feeling here in Tokyo compared to the tightly organic developments. Much of Ginza gave me reminders of Shanghai's Bund with historical icon buildings and sleek modern new buildings. 

A part of my goal in Ginza was to find some shoes... and that was a no luck endeavour. I was going to get a nice pair loafers at Zara, but of course my size 11 feet are massive here in Japan... 9 was their largest size. I did default and bought a pair of light weight pants that double as shorts... the weather here is getting warmer, but still relatively cool at night... almost cold. 

I did happen to stumble across a little architectural gem in Ginza. As I was sourcing out a 7/11 (the only place I can withdraw from a foreign credit card) I found Kisho Kurokawa's 1972 Nakagin Capsule Tower. For those unfamiliar with the Capsule Tower, it was the first expression of the Metabolists idea of a Plug-in City. The tower is constructed with a central pylon with capsules surrounding it. Each capsule was to be the epitome of modern living in a single space. But as we know from much of the technologies and fashions of the 1970's, this lifestyle was short lived. Presently the Nakagin Tower is sitting in a forgotten area, adjacent to a highway. Time has not been favourable to the tower. Much of the capsules have seen better days and from much of the vantage points, these capsules look to be containers for storage. Many architects are seeking a way to get the tower refurbished, but things have been left so long in disrepair that it may never happen. Its an fortunate circumstance for great pieces of architecture, but we can always hope and try to get things repaired/restored/or re-imagined. Habitat Montreal was at  a point of disrepair before it was refurbished and now retails and boutique living. 

I journeyed home after my encounter with the capsule hotel. A little lost in thought... the building is massively famous in the architectural circles. A single small image can have any decently trained architect should out its name. But it appears to be little support to get things moving to keep this icon of design around. 

Tomorrow I am off to Zushi, a beach resort area south-west of Tokyo. It will be my first time outside of the Tokyo area since arriving. It should be an interesting day. Meeting a friend of mine and she'll introduce me to her group of friends. I have no idea what is in store tomorrow, but it should be fun. I have learned very well that Japanese really know how to enjoy their free time. More pictures to come and more to write about soon. There was a plan to write more when I was on the metro using my new cellphone that I ordered... however the phone I received does was the incorrect phone and does not work in Japan... Someday I'll get a working phone here... 

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