Semester at Sea Fall 2006 Voyage  banner



By Esther

    Transnational global cities have been popping up all over thetrain tracks world and as the ties between various counties are further developed, the inevitable reconstruction and restructuring of pre-existing cities is creating more and more network-dependent world cities. Takashi Machimura in his “Urban Restructuring Process in Tokyo in the 1980s: Transforming Tokyo into a World City” explores this global city trend though his case study of a major Japanese city, Tokyo. Kobe, another Japanese up-and-coming global city, and is currently being transformed into a transnational global city.

   japanese girl on train There were automated train ticket machines that spit out magnetized tickets that would then be fed into gate machines that both allowed and denied access to certain stops depending on the information on that magnetized ticket. The trains themselves were quick and clean- always on time- and somehow the tracks were laid out so to transform these traditionally large clumsy machines into efficient delicate dancers, perpetually in a performance that wove its passengers in between, above and around the vernacular houses of the old and the transnational, super skyscrapers of the new global city.

    Historically centered around small clusters of families and villages, the towns in Japan were spread out and self-sufficiency was a given. But now in our increasingly global world, the globalization of Japan has made Japan perhaps the most network-dependent country in the world. The train system is much like the bloodstream of Japan. Both linking major skyscraper to major skyscraper within Kobe to branching out in larger veins to other towns like Tokyo and Kyoto, the train system fosters both internal and international economic, cultural, and physical exchange.
japanese town  
As part of this transnational human flow within the trains, I witnessed the active reconstructing of the Japanese landscape. From the countryside to the cities, the menagerie of vernacular, modern, and transnational buildings composed a colorful image that looked as if these buildings were one collective sea anemone, inching its way inland to the furthest recesses it could grab on to and still reaching.

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