Earliest Land Reclamation & Recession Control by Concrete
Very well then, I admit it: The subtitle of this posting may cause some confusion. But who knows – maybe that’s just the way I want it to be… After all, Tōkyō is the city of contradictions, where the coexistence of new and old seems inevitable, as these contradictions just arise by nature.
And here is another very pretty example: The northern edge of the man-made island of Tsukishima (月島 / つきしま) – created during the Meiji era (1868 to 1912) and completed in 1892 already. I’ve reported about this island before:
Moon Island, a Shout of Victory and Sunny Sea
Tsukishima, Kachidoki and Harumi
– The “older ones“ among Tōkyō’s man-made islands
The northern corner of the island, called Tsukuda (佃 / つくだ) (which stands for “cultivated rice field” in the original meaning of the Chinese character) is yet another 250 years older.
At that time fishermen from Ōsaka (大阪 / おおさか) started to create an island in the mudflat of the river. Oldest evidence of these days is the Sumiyoshi Jinja (住吉神社 / すみよしじんじゃ), the Shintō shrine that was built in 1646 in order to protect the island. Of the shrine’s buildings that can be seen today, the impressive Haiden (prayer hall) is the oldest – it dates back to 1870.
On two sides (the Eastern and the Northern one) the shrine is enclosed by a channel that gives us an impression of the dimensions of the old time’s island. While the channel and its dreamy fisher boats form a harmonious ensemble with the narrow alleys of the residential neigbourhoods, the contrast the high-rise buildings in the back that were built in practically no time in the very late 20th century, couldn’t be sharper.
The residence towers of the “Ōkawabata River City 21” (大川端リバーシティ２１) were, when they began to built the first one, der “River Point Tower” (リバーポイントタワー) in 1986, indeed a project aiming at trendsetting urban housing for the future – at least for those who could afford such a futuristic way of living (even in our days, apartments in these towers are – even for Tōkyō’s standards – rather costly). Today this first tower is among the smaller onese in the ensemble with its 40 stories or a height of 132 metres respectively. Nevertheless, with its 390 housing units it could accommodate a medium-sized village.
The tallest of the buildings is the “Century Park Tower” (センチュリーパークタワー), that was built between 1995 and 1999, with a height of 180 metres, containing as many as 756 housing units. It is, therefore, the 18th tallest apartment building in Japan today.
At present, the highest apartment tower of Japan, the “Kitahama” (北浜 / きたはま) in Ōsaka (大阪 / おおさか) is 209 metres tall; the two biggest and tallest ones in Tōkyō, “The Tōkyō Towers” are each 194 metres tall and provide space for – believe it or not – 2,794 apartment units.
The construction period of the last of the eight residential towers, however, marks a time in Japanese economy, when one of the first attempts was made to perform “recession control by concrete”. Since the economic and real estate bubble burst around the year 1990, concrete has repeatedly (and mostly not too successfully) been the “instrument” to boost the economy. That is one of the reasons why modern Japan is so rich in fascinating specimen of modern architecture – but also of landscapes and sights that have been mutilated by concrete.
Aside from the apartment towers, the recreational areas around them, that make use of structures dating back to the Edo period, are the attractions of the compound. And, certainly, the view from the north shores of the island is one of the most striking in the city. This northern edge of the island is – very romantically – called “Place de Paris“ (パリ広場 / ぱりひろば) – even though it may require some imagination to discover the romantic aspects of the square.
Naturally, this rather newly created settlement area provides everything needed for daily life: shops, restaurants, sports- and recreational facilities.
Suggestion: Have a stroll through the small alleys of the old part of town around the channel and the shrine!
And should you feel your feet deserve a special treat after all that walking around, take a little detour to the Japanese style garden on the south side of the sky scrapers, on the northern bank of the channel and the Sumiyoshi Jinja.
How to get there:
The easiest way is by Tōkyō Metro Hibiya-Linie (東京メトロ日比谷線 / とうきょうめとろひびやせん) or Toei Subway Ōedo-Linie (都営地下鉄大江戸線 / とえいちかてつおおえどせん) respectively to Tsukishima (月島 / つきしま). Take exit 6 (which also has an elevator) and head in northern directions, passing the Sumiyoshi Jinja (住吉神社 / すみよしじんじゃ).