58. to japan and back again...
for a mostly family-oriented visit, but with a few notables:
1. Uguisudani, Tokyo (above)
this is one of Tokyo's 'Love Hotel' hotspots, one stop north of the Ueno hub on the Yamanote line. this thicket of neon signs circumscribes the western edge of the area, which is squeezed between the railway and the major avenue of Showa Dori 2 blocks away and running parallel to the west. rather than feeling like a seedy railside sex nexus, the two massive infrastructures of rail and road provide the neighborhood with an almost cozy, village-like atmosphere and scale. here, couples of all ages (young urban hipsters, burnt-out business-men with mistress, the occasional prostitute picking up dilapidated soul and vice-versa) stroll afternoon and evening, darting in and out of these hotels which, on average, boast only a dozen rooms or so. on a Sunday morning at 10am (typical check-out hour), there was a mass-exodus of over-nighters heading back towards the train station, hand-in-hand, smiling.
2. Arata Isozaki's Art Tower, Mito
built in 1990, this twisting triangulated tower is near my uncle's home in Mito and thus, has been part of my visual radar for several years. Mito, capital of Ibaraki-ken, and even Hitachi, my mother's hometown, are increasingly becoming part of the Tokyo conurbation (ex. both are included in urban railmaps of Tokyo). as this happens, their characters evolve, the streetscapes increasingly closed up and shut down as chainmalls spread their made-elsewhere efficiency.
having moved so frequently, my sister and i realized that Hitachi is the only place in the world that we continue to visit where we have childhood memories, which doesn't quite make it home but makes it...something, a place where we can register the change of a sandy beach now covered in concrete. still, it's a 10+ hour flight for both of us from our respective abodes, which once again highlights that intimacy and distance, memory and proximity, need not be connected.
i snapped the triptych of the tower from the car, stopped at a red-light and beginning to move.