Soon Gone Forever

This is a beautiful building facade. It’s on Omotesando, a popular upmarket shopping street in central Tokyo.

But it won’t be there for long. Very soon it will be completely obscured from view for the forseeable future.


In Tokyo one of the few constant things is change – in this case construction of new buildings. This facade will disappear behind the bulk of a new building, not to be seen again.

It’s quite sad in a way, the apparent disregard in this country for preservation of the old or unique.

Only recently one of the most traditional (and among the oldest) buildings in Tokyo, the Kabuki-za in Ginza was mercilessly torn down for the sake of progress.

This kabuki theatre – one of only two in the entire country – is now being rebuilt featuring a replica of the old building along with a new 29-story tower.

Among the reasons given for tearing it down (which would be laughable were they not so unfathomably ridiculous) were that “The current Kabuki-za…is quite worn-out. It also doesn’t offer barrier-free access.” and “It doesn’t have enough toilets”.

The same might be said for castles in Europe or ancient temples in India and Egypt.

To western eyes such demolition seems incredibly insensitive to tradition and cultural history. In London for example such destruction would never be allowed, but here it’s par for the course.

Although this Omotesando facade is a far cry from the spectacular Frank Lloyd-Wright designed Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (destroyed in 1968) and the fantastic Ueno Sofitel (destroyed in 2009) , it is nevertheless a distinctive and impressive design which like others before it will vanish.

Also gone: Imperial Hotel and Ueno Sofitel
(click images to enlarge)

Perhaps fortunately this rather more modern Omotesando facade will simply be obscured, not demolished.



~ by JapanGasm on 31 May, 2012.

5 Responses to “Soon Gone Forever”

  1. So long, Frank, Llyod-Wright. Always wanted to write that. There’s probably a very clever money per foot / architectural significance graph. I was looking at a London church yesterday. One of the churches it replace was ‘damaged’ and re-located to to somewhere in deepest USA. They should have done that with Franks’s creation. New Mexico?

  2. The Japanese also turned all their rivers into concrete ditches for flood control but more probably to create work for concrete and construction companies. You don’t know what you’ve lost until its gone. I always saw it as Japanese having the attention span of a 2 year old.

  3. That’s too bad about the theater—I saw a kabuki performance there (my first and only unfortunately) the week I left Japan in 2009. And I was so surprised when visiting Ueno park one day when it finally dawned on me that the Sofitel building was gone (something’s missing here…). I once ventured into it’s upper floors out of curiosity to check out the view…

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: