Tokyobling's Blog

Shinmaiko Marine Park – The Elections and the Oceans

Posted in Opinion, Places by tokyobling on December 17, 2012

Bear with me as I use an example of a tiny and absolutely unremarkable little seaside park in Aichi prefecture to wax philosophical for a little while. As you might have noticed, there was a big election here in Tokyo today. One of the main subjects of discussion in this election was the future of nuclear energy in this country. Some parties ran on the promise that they would close down all the nuclear power plants by the year 2030. Of course the question of how this is supposed to happen aren’t really explained, but one of the ways would probably be to invest in alternative energy sources, like these two plants at the Shinmaiko Marine Park in Chita City (知多市), Aichi prefecture. Made by a Danish company, these two plants generate about 3 million kilowatt hours per year, enough to power about 850 households. Although this is just a tiny slice of the energy needs of the city it is a good start I think, and absolutely necessary if the country is ever going to have a chance to retire the nuclear power plants.

The second theme of this post is about the Japanese view of the ocean. If you have visited any of Japan’s large cities it is easy to forget that they are actually often port cities with huge terminals, industry and trade taking up what would in other countries be very attractive real estate next to the ocean. Since most people in Japan are separated from the ocean by a wide stretch of industry zoning, the government has started developing many marine parks and recreation areas nestled among the factories and terminals, to allow people a green corridor to the ocean. Most of them are popular with fishing enthusiasts, couples and families looking for a good barbecue spot in the summer. I live in Tokyo, one of the greatest port cities in the world but I see the ocean about a couple of times a month, at best! In cities like Nagoya and Chita it is even worse, but small parks like this is making it slightly easier to get access to the ocean. Most maritime cultures or cultures that live in close contact with the ocean have developed a “sensibility” to the ocean, but not Japan. For Danes, New Zealanders and Britons for example, the ocean is often the subject of art, poetry and music, but I find that Japanese have much less refined sensibilities towards the ocean, with most of the religion, the myths, the songs and poetry being focused more inwards, inland. Without making too much of a big deal about it, I think it is an interesting subject that is often overlooked in discussions about the Japanese national character.

If you are ever in Nagoya, and feel like seeing the ocean, Shinmaiko Marine Park is one of the most accessible spots. Just hop on the Limited Express on the Meitetsu Tokoname Line (名鉄常滑線), getting off at Shinmaiko Station (新舞子駅) and then taking the ten minutes walk west. Or, if you are living in Nagoya, chances are you have a car. If you’ve been to this park (I’d be very surprised if any readers have!) or if you know any other good “pocket parks” near the ocean in Japan, just let us know in the comments!






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