A Tale of Technology: Kenzo Tange’s 1964 Yoyogi National Gymnasium and the Japanese Economic Miracle

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.

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All photos by Manuel Oka (www.manueloka.com)

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The Hotel Okura’s Last Days: History in the Unmaking

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.

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Tumblr update

My Tumblr on postwar Japan has managed to attract 1,100 followers since I started it half year ago or so. It’s become the place for me to put up close to 1,000 pictures of everything from architecture, documentary photography, advertisements to a growing collection of shinkansen paraphernalia that I find during my research. A project for the future is better categorisation; this would allow me to curate mini-exhibitions on certain architects, areas or urban experiences.

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Spectacle nation-building: Expo ’70

In the second part of this short series on Japanese post-war nation-building and national identity, I will revisit the 1970 World Exhibition in Osaka, short “Expo ’70”. Just as with the Olympics six years before in Tokyo, the Expo gave a newly confident Japan a stage to present itself to the world and, more importantly, its own citizens.

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View of the Expo grounds, with danchi housing estate in the front

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1960s Tokyo photos

In 2013 Kyodo opened its archives for an exhibition showcasing Tokyo photos from the 1960s mainly. By juxtaposing them with shots from the same angle today, the incredible transformation of Tokyo over the decades becomes visible. I stumbled over its website where many of works can be seen. A small selection with links to posts from this blog after the jump.

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