Alleys of Seattle

Osaka and Ise

Posted in Japan by seattlealleys on November 15, 2010



After exploring the arcades, streets, and public spaces of gray and commercial Osaka, I realized it too was at once the capital of Japan.  It was once a porous city sliced by canals and moats in grid patterns about the city like a super Venice.
The astounding amount of neon at night in any alley, small street, arcade, or even under raised train tracks is testament to supply meeting demand. After a rooftop view, Osaka is endless and dense, yet the population supports its’ maximization. Perhaps koolhaas should have wrote delirious Osaka or delirious Tokyo with a cut through many parts of the city showing buildings with tiny footprints and a lift having different businesses on every floor even if it is 15 feet wide and ten storeys.

In the polar opposition to this cultural phenomena, my good friend, Masaru Sunagawa and I made a pilgrimage into the mountains east of Kyoto to see Ise, the resting place of the oldest religious building in Japan, and the birthplace of Japan shintoism.  You can only approach the first gate and the second if you are the president or a vip. The shrine is rebuilt every twenty years, the time it takes for trees to grow and new skilled workers to be trained. The buildings have no nails and float sturdily above the moisture laden forest floor. The roof is made up of hollow straws laid over one another functioning as insulation, a slick surface for shedding water (due to the latent moisture in straw), and an escape for the smoke burned within that protects from mosquitos.

I am now off to my hotels public bath in Tokyo looking like Bill Murray in lost in translation due to my way too tiny bath slippers and kimono.

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