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Sunday, April 1, 2007

In the news ニュース

From the Taipei Times, a new shopping mall in Kaohsiung (Gaosyong) 高雄(たかお)is getting ready to open http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2007/03/31/2003354718. What caught my attention is the fact that the Dream Mall will include a Hankyu Department Store 阪急百貨店 and a Nitori ニトリ home-furnishings store. Our apartment in Yokkaichi 四日市 was largely stocked with items we purchased from the local Nitori. It's too bad Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原(とよはら)is several hours by car from Kaohsiung.

From the Japan Times, Kyoto 京都 is finally going to do something about regulating the rampant development that has eroded much of its old atmosphere http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070331f1.html. Actually, while I agree that the city hasn't done a very good job at preserving its ambiance, I think it's gotten a bad rap from its Western critics. Old wooden buildings don't lend themselves to modern retrofitting in the manner you often come across in European cities, where the local Citibank branch might be occupying a building dating back to the 17th century. And Kyoto is a modern commercial and industrial city of 1.5 million, so that is going to have an effect on appearances. Still, it would have been nice if Kyoto had followed Takayama's 高山 example, where newer buildings are designed to harmonize architecturally with the older, preserved wooden structures in the historic central part of the city (except for the monstrous NTT building). But I have to admit that I like Kyoto Station 京都駅. I don't think it's very modernity takes anything away from Kyoto's traditional charms. Would the alternative have been to build something like the main station in T'aipei (Taibei) 台北(たいほく), which looks oppressive, but in a "traditional" way? The real crime against aesthetics in Kyoto is Kyoto Tower 京都タワー. THAT should never have been allowed!

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