Entries in Kyoto Tower (1)


Gran Via

I stood in front of the Hotel Granvia for about a half an hour, and as I waited for you I couldn’t help wondering what on earth “Granvia” was supposed to mean.

Was it a reference to Madrid’s Gran Via, literally “Great Way”, the so-called “Broadway of Spain”, the street that never sleeps? And if so, what did that have to do with muted Kyōto, a city where many restaurants close as early as nine in the evening? Or was it in some way an allusion to the “Great Vehicle” of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Probably not. Most likely, the owners just liked the “sound” of it.

These silly, often meaningless names that architects and planners insisted on slapping on buildings, even here in Kyōto, the very heart of Japan, often made me wonder if the Japanese hated their own culture and language.

Unfortunately, the folly wasn’t limited to naming. Infinitely worse, it expressed itself in monstruments like the awful Kyōto Tower that stood across the street from me like a massive cocktail pick. A fitting design, because the people who had the bright idea of creating it must have been drunk.

The bombings of WWII, which reduced most Japanese cities to ashes, spared Kyōto for the most part, meaning the ancient capital is one of the few cities in Japan with a large number of buildings predating the war. Or shall I say, was. Because that which managed to survive the war proved no match for wrecking balls, hydraulic excavators, and bulldozers.


 ー From A Woman's Tears, due out in late 2017. For more, go here.