TOP: Ginza on a busy evening BOTTOM: Ginza on Sunday morning- streetspace handed back to the people
For the HOGI Scholarship, I had one week to spend with the Miyamas, and one week to research my thesis. I added a third week to spend time with friends and see more of Japan than just Tokyo which is where my study was focused, but more on that later.
The thesis of the project is to understand the architecture of cultural hybridization, in the urban fabric of an essentially old city. I call it Inhabiting the Global Anonymous, because it can be argued that in the end, that is what assimilation/ globalization does, if secretly. What becomes interesting then, is the manner in which foreign cultures and forms are appropriated….there was mayo and seaweed in my McDonald’s breakfast sandwich!
My work in Tokyo began the day the Miyamas sent us on our way, and my first stop was Ginza- a place to eat, shop, and do some business- wherein lies the most expensive corner of our planet (a block away from picture #1). Tokyo is the world’s largest megalopolis, so much so that I hesitate to even call it a city. It’s more like a cluster of cities within a city- at 23 million people- each neighborhood is like a small Tokyo with its own flavor. Ginza is the most expensive land in the world, and as our host had pointed out- about half a square meter costs you about a million USD. Ouch!
Walking down the busiest and swankiest street in Ginza gives you a look into just how integrated and cosmopolitan the city has evolved to be- gone or buried are the remnants of the Edo period in such places.
Although Tokyo is so different from any other place I have ever been, there is something about the big city feeling where globalization makes strange streets look vaguely familiar in all big cities in so many ways…