I have decided to put some of my little research assignments (largely “self-assigned”, that is) onto the blog in order to share them more widely and get myself to be more disciplined in articulating my thoughts. This one below is about Japan’s infrastructure investments over the last 100+ years.
We just came back from a two-week working holiday in Thailand. Our main aim was to escape the humid Japanese summer and find a place suitable for some concentrated work. We still ventured out of the hotel room, so some observations from Phuket after the jump.
Private house Phuket Town
As my Tokyo research progresses, I have been looking a little more closely at the history of Sumida Ward, one of Tokyo’s traditional manufacturing areas. Today I took a walk from Hikifune to Ryogoku.
Steel plating company, Sumida Ward
The second presentation I gave during the “Inheriting the City” conference in Taipei last week was on Tokyo. As with the one on Yangon, I am still debating whether I should write it up as a full-blown paper. In order not to forget what I said, herewith a summary.
Japan’s initial success after the Second World War had a lot to do with the copying of Western technology. The economic miracle of the 1960s, however, rested on Japanese firms’ ever-increasing capability to innovate. The world was to get a taste of this when thousands of spectators visited Tokyo for the 1964 Olympic Games. Kenzo Tange’s Gymnasium provided a central venue of great symbolic power.
All photos by Manuel Oka (www.manueloka.com)
I have been living in D.C. for a good eight months now, and make a habit of zooming down Embassy Row when cycling into the centre. I always pass this abandoned building on my left, just a little past the British Embassy and its waving Winston Churchill statue. Why did I only find out yesterday that this is the former Iranian Embassy?
It is hard to conjure up a hotel building more emblematic than the Hotel Okura in Tokyo. In contrast to the Japanese avant-garde architecture of its days and the faceless corporate behemoths that came to dominate the city in the 1970s and ‘80s, this 1962 building synthesises traditional Japanese features with modernist architecture.
I came across this great website with photos from the centre of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, principally taken around the city’s train station. They capture the essence of why visuals can be so powerful a tool to convey the changes that swept through postwar Japan.
1966 postcard with station area and castle in background
Now that the writing process for our book is in full swing, I am dealing with some historical puzzles occasionally. Herewith two that I have shared with our Facebook readers recently. One is about a famous high school, the other about a beautiful yet dilapidated official building on Pansodan Street.
The 9th of November has passed by quickly, and with it the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a young East Berliner at the time, the event was of great importance to me, although the true extent would only reveal itself many years later.
TV Tower on a foggy day