Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Speaking of Denenchofu and mysterious Japan

A fellow commented on a slightly different version of this photo taken in Denenchofu saying that it showed the juxtaposition of the old and new in Japan.

I had never thought of that. I was thinking of something else entirely. I should have realized the deeper uniquely unique Japaneseness represented by the photo. Everyone has heard that Japan is a fascinating mixture of the old and new. Why, you can find a "new" vending machine right in front of an "old" building. Where else but Japan?

I have always wondered why this is "true." Could it just chaotic zoning laws? A lack of urban planning as even Blinky Ishihara has mentioned? It is actually hard to find much preservation of old things in Japan unless it is a temple or something. Old buildings and houses will be razed without a second thought. Some will protest, but the government, bureaucrats, and construction companies are rarely persuaded by mere citizens.

Anyway, every time I pass that building from now on, I will remember that it represents something uniquely Japanese and not just a bright yellow and white vending machine in front of an old building with bright, blue paint on it near the less well-off part of Denenchofu. This sort of thing does not exist elsewhere.

(The longer I live here and the more people I get to know, the less "different" the average Japanese becomes. Donald Richie, in his book The Japan Journals, stated that some guys from Ohio can be more different than guys from Japan. How perfectly true, to the disappointment of the uniquely unique nihonjinron Japan crowd.)

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