JAPAN 2015 – 02 Yokohama
The day is Sunday and fortunately we will have a local guide for our walk in Yokohama.
Michaela, whose name the Japanese can't pronounce at all because the letter L doesn't appear in their language at all, and has lived in Japan for 15 years (the lady on the right in the photo) and says she would not return; women love orderly and predictable things, and Japan to a large extent today is just that - orderly and predictable; I must be annoying her terribly with my questions, for which I obediently apologize.
So this lovely lady is the source of most of the "inside" information I have; Thank you deeply and gratefully for the patience and attention with which you answered all my questions!
And I have many questions, even though we have only been in Japan for a day, an awful lot.
The Japanese don't speak English, not a word.
When someone still has enough language skills (a set of 50-100 words for example) for a simple conversation, his pronunciation is so strange that it is barely understandable. It doesn't stop them from trying their best to help, even when you haven't purposefully sought their help, but you seem to need it. At the same time, it makes meaningful communication at a level other than "here left" or "platform 6" or "bring water separately from the sake, please" absolutely impossible; hi.
Today's Japanese are by no means short. Or are low if the Italians are low or the Spaniards. You can hardly expect titanic figures like you can see in the Netherlands, but the general feeling is like a normal high nation, as long as you don't see people over 60 - they are dwarves, and by dwarves I mean the height of a third grader.
However, the acceleration, probably due to regular and complete nutrition, has not changed the genotype and the Japanese (and Japanese women in particular, boys!) are terribly short and crooked; the Vitruvian man grazes to eat! I can't guess why so much evolutionary need for an elongated torso and o-shaped lower limbs is due (a friend suggested that the low center of gravity was to be more resilient to earthquakes :), nor why muscles their calves are often disproportionately larger than the thigh muscles, but even now the Japanese walk with their toes inward, and the Western model of shoes quickly turns into a deformed rag due to the different sole.
We walk along the coastal street of Yokohama and this is the first and last place in Japan where there is any mention of urban planning = we purposefully walk to the notorious Ferry Terminal, but even if I didn't have it in advance, there is no way to get here and miss it.
For architects, this building is a symbol of how public architecture should be made. An anonymous competition was announced for its construction, judged by a prestigious team of international juries and won by an unknown architectural firm. Now that I see her live, even though more than 15 years have passed since then, I dare say that their award was not only deserved, but also extremely insightfully awarded.
Because Osanbashi has brought to Yokohama something that Japanese cities miss so much - public space.
Below the building perfectly performs its function of a ferry terminal with entrance for pedestrians, buses and other land vehicles:
and on top…
The hilly roof is a place for walks and picnics and is not accidentally crowded with people. There is no place in Japan, let alone a place to be wasted on open areas or maybe they do not need them ?!
Because I have the feeling that the concept of a square is missing here at all; in European culture, one of the hallmarks of a city since the birth of civilization is the presence of an agora, a forum, a square, a square, a public place in general, where the population can gather, socialize, play, exchange goods and ideas, overthrow dictators or celebrate wins; in Japanese such a place not only does not exist, but no one misses it, there is no public need for the functions it could perform.
In Japan today there are stations, but no squares.
Yokohama is the vanguard of Western civilization in Japan. It can almost trick you into thinking that you're not in Asia. It has a pedestrian coastal park area with a lot of free space and a sense of space.
But Yokohama is an exception that only confirms the rule.
While we enjoy the view of the city that opens from Osanbashi, the sun sets.
The sun sets indecently early in Japan; the Japanese do not change the weather and are far ahead of their natural time zone, which makes the day unpleasantly short and its beginning even more unpleasantly early; the sun sets at 5.30 in early October (ah, grumble now against the daylight saving time system!)
Which does not prevent the city centers to be full at 11 pm and the restaurants to be crowded.