Fuji…TV Headquarters by htkay
April 10, 2009, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Culture, Development, Photography, Tokyo, Travel

Odaiba, an artificial island situated in Tokyo Bay is home to a couple of Tokyo’s landmarks. The large red and white ferris wheel and the Fuji TV headquarters.


The building is predominantly office space but contains ten studios, spread over 25 stories and rising 125 meters above our heads.


We had seen the building in the UR Model and in magazines, but the other-worldly quality is made ever more apparent by the shear size of the thing.

The ball that seems to have lodged itself into the otherwise very rational grid like structure weighs 1200 tonnes and is 36 meters in diameter, but it appears so alien that you find yourself thinking it must be hovering, weightless, unsupported by the intersecting beams.


The studio was designed by Kenzo Tange Associates, with construction  starting in 1993 and lasting three years, The design is up to scratch in standards for quake tolerance.

Upon entering we are met with yet another Tokyo gift shop, and even though we had taken the rather elaborately loopy train from central Tokyo we didn’t pay the 500 yen for a tour and entrance to the ball. The Odaiba Island is worth the visit though; to see the development that is ongoing, the Rainbow Bridge and a rather odd slightly smaller scale model of the Statue of Liberty.










Spaces by htkay
April 5, 2009, 1:54 am
Filed under: Architecture, City Studies, People, Tokyo, Travel

We have only been through tokyo by coach and metro and have yet to delve  into the extreme density that we have only been able to see from the edge; catching the occasional glimpse past the surface of tightly packed apartment blocks, that continue into the distance, the concrete occasionally punctured by a rising skyscraper, a rebel in its material and shape.

These spaces between are intriguing as they look barely wide enough for a car to squeeze down, and grow dark compared to the glaring white of the facades on either side, and yet it seems these are the spaces that the floods of people in the main streets heading for the metro or train seem to appear from; like tributaries, but fixed to their grid and unable to erode away the square corners of Tokyo.


The edge is only penetrated by the smallest of cracks, click to enlarge

The reason for so much conformity is due to the rebuilding of Tokyo on a huge scale twice in the last century. First in 1923 after the Great Kanto Earthquake and second after the bombings in the second world war. Both times the prefab, concrete slab construction led to the styles as a necessity from the need for high density living spaces quickly.



the untouchable city by nim
April 4, 2009, 8:05 pm
Filed under: City Studies, Group, Tokyo, Travel


The “untouchables” refers to the vast majority of the Japanese population who have conformed to a lifestyle where you make as little contact as possible with the public realm i.e automatic doors, taps, toilet flushers, and the obvious mask culture. This mentality has more to do with respect for other citizens than it does with the fear of catching disease. The hand grips on the metro provide a possible exception to this rule; after all they are a complete necessity for a crowded train- you wouldn’t want to be bumping into other people as this would be disrespectful. Yet we hear so much about the potential for germs to be passed from hand to hand on these public rails. This would suggest a number of different plausible explanations: the trains are cleaned extensively, people’s hands are clean to begin with (so less harmful bacteria is passed from hand to rail), or perhaps the metro travelers simply understand that in order to maintain an atmosphere of respect and harmony, they must compensate their own well-being. If the later is true; this mentality is certainly an aspect of wabi sabi.

Arrival by htkay
April 4, 2009, 8:48 am
Filed under: Group, Tokyo, Travel

Having arrived at the Narita International Airport at nearly 10am local time not knowing what to expect but remembering stories and advice on the vast differences between our cultures, everything seemed rather familiar; the lobby had a starbucks, gift shop and Bureau de Change. The rather standard looking travellers gazing at the rather standard announcements board was all rather disappointing.


The weather was a mild 12 degrees Celsius and the sun was shining; as it had been in London when we left, really we could have been anywhere.

But then it became apparent we were definitely somewhere else; the toilet seat was heated and played bird song or the sound of running water, depending on preference, there were men in white gloves directing us across zebra crossings, that seemed perfectly capable by themselves, the seats on the coach felt as though they were only a couple of inches from the floor so the knees were bent at acute angles, and as the coach proceeded into the city, we couldn’t be anywhere else but the world’s most populated metropolitan area.

The apartment blocks, all a standard plot size, rose between seven and fifteen stories above the tightly packed streets below, that we caught an occasional glimpse of through cluttered telegraph poles and electricity cables from the elevated highway, which cut its way through the residential suburbs without any regard for the buildings on either side, or the occupants of the spaces beyond the blank windows.

It took us around two hours from the airport to our hostel in Taito-ku, Taito, a Northeastern ward of Tokyo and about thirty minutes by tube from the main areas of Ginza and Rippongi in the centre of Tokyo.