A couple of weeks ago Marunouchi was invaded by dinosaurs from Fukui prefecture on the north coast of Japan. Japanese kids, like kids everywhere I guess, have a serious love for dinosaurs, and they’re also lucky in that Japan is a good place to go fossil hunting. Three complete skeletons (casts) were on display as well as a few other interesting animated dinosaurs and educational videos and even life sized dinosaur scientists that were a great hit with the kids! First of we had the carnivorous 12m long Acrocanthosaurus atokensis from Oklahoma USA, and a Pteranodon longiceps with a wing span of 7m was hung in the ceiling. The Japan native Fukuisaurus tetoriensis, a herbivore Iguanadontian. Seeing these exhibitions in Marunouchi Building and the nearby Oazu Building really brought back memories from when I was dinosaur crazy kid myself! I think a trip to Fukui prefecture really must be arranged some time soon.
One of the great bonuses of living in a huge city like Tokyo is that there is always so much going on in terms of art and performances. Most of the major shopping and office buildings in central Tokyo use art as a way to attract more people and bring life to the otherwise rather sterile large skyscrapers of glass and steel. Last summer I saw these fantastic wooden statues at Marunouchi Building, by Tsuneyoshi Nakamura (中村恒克). They are called Hikiwake and Kakitsubata. Japanese sculptors have this amazing talent for carving wonderful works of art from wood! I think the future of modern art will be much more interesting for Japanese art-lovers. Up until now Japanese modern art have been largely ignored by the mainstream art critics around the world, but if even a mere fraction of all the talent we see coming out of Japan’s many excellent art universities make it big, it would be a fantastic boom for Japanese art! I think Mr Nakamura will be one of the successful ones.
The name of this work of art, a moving, lit installation in lacquer, paper and cypress wood is called 夕日に架かる街 in Japanese, which although is pretty straightforward has my stumped as for a good translation in English. A Town Bridged By the Setting Sun? I really don’t know how to say it in English. This is the latest work by the young super nova of Japanese art, Wataru Itou (伊藤 航), whom you might remember from the glorious paper castle I posted a couple of years ago. This one was exhibited in Tokyo’s Marunouchi Building a couple of months ago. Of course the rope way car is moving! I’m looking forward to following his career!
Following up on yesterday’s main post, here’s Marunouchi’s famous Nakadori, or as we call it “Tokyo’s Wall Street”. This street is not only the home of most major Japanese financial companies it is a place of very expensive shopping and some great restaurant. Even if you’ve left your credit card at home it’s a great place to stroll down at any time of the day, and especially now that the Christmas lights are out. When I first came to Japan this street was a huge construction site but gradually the low buildings mandated by law due to the proximity to the Imperial palace have given way to super sky scrapers, the latest of which is due to finish in April 2012, the tentatively named JP Tower, a 200m tall glass and steel building replacing the old Tokyo GPO (1933-2008). Can’t wait to see that one finished!
Nakadori is closed to traffic during the lunch break and the area corporation takes the environmental studies very seriously. I’ve seen entomologists (insect specialists), zoologists, chemists and hydrologists keep a very close eye on every aspect of animal and human life along the street. There’s mobile environmental units every 100m along the street recording all sorts of data in an effort to make the area as clean as possible. Quite remarkable. Even though it is in the middle of the biggest city in the world the air is exceptionally clean.
The last two photos are of the Shinmarunouchi Building and the Marunouchi Building, two giant office/shopping buildings that stands on the shoulders of the road leading from Tokyo Station to the Imperial palace. A must visit if you go to Tokyo! But you might want to dress up a little. It’s a snazzy place and I feel vaguely out of place without a jacket and tie, even in the summer.