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 Here and There in Japan

By Jane Wiseman

            One of the first pictures I took in Japan was in Kobe. My friends and I were just wandering the streets looking for some lunch when one of us happened to look to our left and see this Shinto Shrine. In fact, we almost missed it because it was over-shadowed by the surrounding buildings. The shrine wasn’t miniscule and had some depth to it, including the traditional washing station at the entrance. However I couldn’t help but notice the very modern buildings all around the shrine. The most noticeable transnational building is the skyscraper in the background. Plus the apartments on the sides are virtually on top of the shrine, equipped with satellite dishes that can bring the inhabitants global news. Although Kobe may not technically be a global city, this picture represents an aspect of global city in that the vernacular seems to be getting “squashed” by the transnational.
            I took another picture while touring Kyoto. After winding my way up through small alleys crowded with local shops, I arrived at the top of a hill/mountain to visit the Kiyomizu Temple. The view from one of the walkways that wind around the forest was magnificent, and after walking through the main temple area, you could see not only the temple but also the main city below. I think it is a good representation of one of the aspects of a global city, its spatial epoch. I think this picture represents Michael Focault’s ideas about the “here and there” and the juxtaposition of the old and new ("
Of Other Spaces"). The famous Kiyomizu Temple looks down over the modern city of Kyoto. The urban city and the temple don’t really compete with one another, but rather coexist.
                I took another picture while in Kobe and found it rather interesting. There was a small, obviously run down, convenience store. It doesn’t have any of the chain-store names (i.e. Lawson’s) and, based on appearance, I feel that it’s safe to assume that it was locally owned. However, all around the store were signs of transnationalism. For example, to the left of the store stood a massive glass office building that probably houses multi-national companies while on the right was a modern apartment building almost certainly complete with cable and internet connections. Then, almost directly over the store is a highway overpass that connects Kobe to other places. I wondered if gentrification was going on, in the form of disinvestment, as way to run the little shop out of the highly modern area.

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