Saturday, December 30, 2006

"Looking for Continuity"

In pondering my interest in the 1929 Sanshin Building, it occurred to me that its standing in the middle - between the beginning of the Meiji era (1868) and today - makes it a kind of link enabling a feeling of continuity.  Tokyo is badly lacking this feeling of continuity - there are some old pre-Meiji things, and then everything else "newer" than that 1868 line is relentlessly destroyed to feed the voracious appetite of the construction industry.  When buildings are made better and stronger, it's generally a good thing to replace them, but that's not always the case (as recent news has shown).

The Sanshin Building was built in 1929, not long after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that destroyed Tokyo, and they seem to have overbuilt the structure, if anything, so I don't think there's any issue with the building's safety.  It appears to just be a case of suits armed with PowerPoint thinking they can get more money out of the land by making a modern tower there (by also knocking down the next building and using the combined space) and making yet another structure with overpriced shops and restaurants at the bottom and top, and overlit sealed air system office space in the middle - the whole towering box casting an ugly shadow over neighboring Hibiya Park.  And they're right I suppose, but this line of thinking is destroying the culture of the city.  I suppose many European countries go to the other extreme, and would do better to renovate a little more, but Tokyo has almost eradicated its own history - what's left of value, like the Sanshin Building, should be kept alive to use and help future generations tie together the flow of time and the changing of generations.

The Dai-Ichi Building, just down the street, is being preserved, which is great - but it's a completely different style, and there's a highrise that's been put in the middle of it!  In walking around the building a few days ago, it looks as though they disassembled the rear of the building, put up the tower, and then reassembled the facade of the old building around that on the back half of the block.  The front, as least, seems to be unmolested (they may have only taken off the back of the building to make it one with the new tower).  Fine, but it's a completely different style and type of building than the Sanshin Building.  Well... whatever!  I'm getting tired of thinking about it, but I really would like to see that building put to good use!

There are a good set of photos of the Sanshin Building at this (Japanese language) site:

And my page (previously mentioned) in English:

- and in Japanese:

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, December 18, 2006

"The Sanshin Building"

I like old buildings - or more specifically, I like a mix of new buildings and old buildings.  All old buildings or all new buildings produce a desire for change, while a mix of new and old enable a view back and/or forward, depending on which buildings you spend time in.  Tokyo is very lopsided on the "new" side - to the point of old buildings having been nearly eradicated from the city.  The next target of this relentless push to the new seems to be the Sanshin Building, which its owners (Mitsui Fudosan Co.,Ltd.) want to tear down, but others want to save.  One last tenant is still in the building (a restaurant & bar) and there's a "Save the Sanshin Building" website:

I've ended up getting interested in the issue myself, as I've always liked wandering through that building and think it would be good to renovate it - especially if they could restore it to its original style.  It was built in 1929 - conceived in the rush of the 20's and finished just in time for the Great Depression.  Post-war, it was not a time for opulence and the building was used in a practical way, with some of the nicer elements (chandeliers, etc.) damaged in the interest of pragmatism.

Anyway, I've put up a page about it here:

Sore dewa,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ricoh GR-I, Lumix LX2, & Olympus C-5050

In response to:

"Hello - I prefer the little Ricoh GR!!!"

I say:

I think I agree actually!  I like my GR quite a lot.  I rotate cameras and try out different ones at different times.  One advantage to the Lumix LX2 is that its auto-white balance works a little better in some situations than the GR.  Overall though - I think I miss my (now in need of repair) Olympus C-5050 - which took quite sharp pictures and has an f1.8 lens - the Ricoh and the Lumix are only f2.8....

[2013/01/10 Update] - Um... things became more complicated in the years following when I wrote this (in 2006).  No time to go into that right now, but please keep in mind that the above paragraph is a post from 2006.