Kyoto (1960-1964): Kyoto Tower as a symbol of Modernism with comparison to Eiffel Tower

Kyoto (1960-1964): Kyoto Tower as a symbol of Modernism with comparison to Eiffel Tower

The people supporting the construction of the Kyoto Tower see it as a symbol of modernism. The tower is seen as a lighthouse to light the sea of tiled roofs, as appeared in Kyoto’s old landscape. It is also seen as a candle of Higashi Honganji temple from its colour and shape. [1] As we all know, Kyoto is famous for its ancient architecture and cityscape. The construction of the tower is viewed as an introduction of a modern element to the ancient city. Yamada Mamoru and professor Tanahashi Ryo. Yamada, the architects of the tower, had a vision for bringing modernization to Kyoto. They formed the Japan Secession Group[2], the first movement in support of modern architecture in Japan. The Japan Secession Group took inspiration from the avant-garde European architecture. It aims to secede from certain practices in the architectural profession at that time. To them, and the landowners and developers, the tower is crucial to modernise the city and to revitalize the economy. They want to integrate western modernized element into the ancient old city, and to attract tourists due to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris shares a similar case with the Kyoto Tower. Before they construct the tower, they studied the landscape policies in Paris, Rome, Bern and Philadelphia (AKJSDH) Kyoto and Paris [3] share a similar cityscape with its low-rise housing and well-formed grids system. The Eiffel tower was protested against when it was first built in the city. However, it was now considered as one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. The Eiffel Tower was a foreign and completely new idea to the 1887 Paris in terms of its material and the image it creates to the city. Paris was built in stone while the new steel structure brought a new image to the city. The tall steel structure of the Kyoto Tower had a similar role in the sense that the old Kyoto city was built in wood. The reason behind France’s introduction of the tower was to showcase the significant progress she made in engineering and technology since the French Revolution. [4] However, there was a lot of oppositions especially from the artists, stating that it would look like a ‘half-built factory pipe, a carcass waiting to be fleshed out with freestone or brick, a funnel-shaped grill, a hole-riddled suppository” [5], believing that it would overshadow the other historic monuments of Paris. Kyoto Tower aroused the same controversy as people doubted that it would disrupt the ancient cityscape. However, Eiffel Tower showed to the world that an ancient art city should not be restrained to the developments it used to have, yet, it is not bad to have new modernized elements into the city.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Baba, Yoshihiko. 2010, ‘Modern or Unmodern?’ Understanding the landscape dispute of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station

 

Soeiro, Diana, 2016, Japanese Secession, Routledge Encyclopaedia of Modernism 2016

 

Green, Meg. The Eiffel Tower: Lucent Books, Inc., 2001

 

Karen Plumley, The Controversy about the Eiffel Tower, Paris Eiffel Tower News

[1] Baba, Yoshihiko. 2010, ‘Modern or Unmodern?’ Understanding the landscape dispute of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station

[2] Soeiro, Diana, 2016, Japanese Secession, Routledge Encyclopaedia of Modernism 2016

[3] Baba, Yoshihiko. 2010, ‘Modern or Unmodern?’ Understanding the landscape dispute of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station

[4] Green, Meg. The Eiffel Tower: Lucent Books, Inc., 2001

[5] Karen Plumley, The Controversy about the Eiffel Tower, Paris Eiffel Tower News

2 Comments on “Kyoto (1960-1964): Kyoto Tower as a symbol of Modernism with comparison to Eiffel Tower

  1. It seems that the analysis can dive deeper into the five years 1960-64 to look specifically at the changes and trends of public opinion toward the Tower (which your other two posts are more successful at), rather than discursively discussing it through another project that is out of that time frame (making it difficult to establish strong direct links between the two).

  2. I am quite interested in the topic of erecting identity through urban planning or major projects that has a great impact. In my own study Chinese identity echoing the ancient culture was erected through architectural design in 1920s & 1930s Shanghai. But here the Kyoto Tower was doing the same thing in the opposite way– bring symbol of modernity into the old city. So does the Eiffel tower discussed in this post but the gap between the new construction and urban context is not that big as in Kyoto and Shanghai. So I’d be glad to know more about how this tower changes the mentality of public regarding the city and new construction.

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