the Old and the New"
Japan has a history of
simultaneously preserving the old while moving speedily into
modernization, but as this dual approach has been going strong for
about 140 years now, what has happened is there are whole generations
of missing culture between 1860 and 2003! The problem is that
while new things are enormously popular when they are new, as they grow
old, they fall between the really old things that are preserved as
important aspects of Japan's cultural heritage, and the new stuff that
is popular and exciting but never considered to be "cultural", and so
it is destroyed when it shows signs of aging. It was thus a happy
discovery for me to visit the Edo-Tokyo Building Museum, where they
have taken several middle-culture buildings (the actual buildings
themselves, not replicas) from different parts of Tokyo, moved them to
a section of a very large park, and basically built a small city of
them there. The execution of this concept has been rather well
done - with the buildings not only being intact, but with residential
houses furnished and stores stocked with authentic merchandise from a
few decades ago.
What took me out that way for
my second visit, was a display of the original artwork for the "anime"
(Japanese term originally based on the English word "animation") movie
"Spirited Away" ("Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi"), by Hayao
Miyazaki. Apparently he modeled some of the buildings in that
anime movie after buildings at the outdoor museum's recreated city, and
so they held the exhibition of his artwork and kept the "city" open
much later than usual with people manning the stores and even the
drinking place. As the buildings are in fact the real thing (not
replicas), and are wired for electricity and stocked with authentic
period furniture and merchandise, it all seems quite real.
All of the photos were taken
on the same evening, with the green one first, taken on the way to the
park, the sky one next, just before going inside the park, and the
other four corner pictures taken within the park. In the top left
photo, the building in the center is the bath house (public bath), that
features so prominently in the movie (the one in the movie is about
twice as high, but the style was modeled on the one in the picture at
the end of the street).
2003 - Lyle (Hiroshi)
Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo