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06/02, Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Welcome to NOTEBOOK, a cultural guide to art, design and architecture, along with a resource of local news and information in English giving a realistic view of Tokyo and further afield.
06/02 – North Korea launched what is thought to be a ballistic missile under the guise of a satellite Wednesday, before it crash-landed in the Yellow Sea. As global warming causes a rise in sea temperatures, Japan's fish catch in 2022 fell to a record low. The London-based Japan House has started promoting the Japanese countryside overseas. And finally, the third edition of the Art Collaboration Kyoto art fair in October has announced this year's exhibitors.
On a warm afternoon in early June, we walk along the Nakano Broadway shopping arcade, mere metres from the Nakano train station which runs through to Shinjuku on the Chūō-Sōbu Line, the JR East Chūō ‘Rapid’ line, and the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. It’s famed for secondhand book stores, rare-to-find toys and curiosities, photo books and out-of-print copies of very early manga, that exchange hands for thousands of dollars at a time. It is fair to say Nakano has a particular charm.
The arcade dates back to 1966, predating the shopping centres of Shinjuku and Shibuya but has been in decline ever since the 1980s when other and other areas were redeveloped. The arcade meanwhile has remaining largely the same. Some have been bold enough to suggest the broadway is an influence or perhaps more accurately an expression of Metabolism and Metabolist architecture with a mobility of public space.
This argument feels like a stretch but there is the case for making a connection — albeit a tenuous one — between Nakano Broadway, Japanese architects from Metabolism (Kiyonori Kikutake, Noboru Kawazoe, Fumihiko Maki, Masato Otaka, Kisho Kurokawa, Kenzo Tange, and so on) the architecture department at Waseda University close by and Ikebukuro where many an architecture student would live before moving on to work for, say, Kenzo Tange. Admittedly, it’s a very generalized argument. Stylistically speaking, the connection is misplaced but the spirit of the idea makes sense and perhaps even points to why Metabolism still holds sway over the city some 50 or 60 years later. Structures like these were built to last!
NOTEBOOK episodes are published 3 times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We will add things here we couldn’t fit into each episode and use this space as somewhere to answer your questions when your here or thinking of visiting Japan.
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