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Mujô 無常, Nagare 流れ, Fukkô 復興 : entre tradition et modernité, le Tokyo Sky Tree et la culture de l'impermanence, du flux et de la renaissance au Japon

Publication date2012

The earthquake of 11th March 2011 reminded the world of the vulnerability of Japan in the face of risk. From this vulnerability, Japanese society has built a culture of impermanence (mujô) which plays a major role in the way that the archipelago's cities are conceived, perceived and built. In the thirteenth-century, the monk and poet Kamo no Chômei (1155-1216) already associated the image of the flow (nagare) of the Kamogawa River in Kyoto with the way houses were doomed to disappear. From the consciousness of the impermanence of things emerges the primacy granted to real estate over constructions, and the culture of the perishability of urban objects. These two cultural elements explain the extreme malleability and adaptability of the Japanese city that the architect Ashihara Yoshinobu compares to an ameba whose order remains concealed. This malleability turns the Japanese city into a city based on flow and form, unlike the patrimonialized European city which is based on stock and matter. From this culture of impermanence emerges the culture of revival: as such, the disaster is never experienced in the form of a pure calamity, but also appears as the purifying opportunity which allows reconstruction – and, in an urban context, urban revival (fukkô). Resulting from the flow (nagare), the impermanence (mujô) and the rebirth of the city on itself, the new tower of telecommunication in Tokyo, the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's second highest building after the Burj al-Khalifa, is not only representative of a post-disaster Japan but is also the symbol of a culture of adaptability. Built on the flow (nagare), it is no coincidence that the Tokyo Sky Tree was mostly financed by a private railway company. Built on impermanence (mujô), the Tokyo Sky Tree subtly connects tradition and modernity. The Tokyo Sky Tree is the symbol of what Hamagushi Eshun calls “the culture of interlink” (awai no bunka, 間の文化). While in Japan the interlink is based on the Ma 間, a notion which expresses the idea of an interval which is both concrete (space-time) and abstract (intersubjectivity), it becomes fully meaningful in the realization of the Sky Tree which connects the spaces of the lower city, bringing together the different era and mixing together different populations around a new central space of urban Tokyo's, and revealing to the world the essence of Japanese spatiality infused with globalization.

Citation (ISO format)
LANGUILLON, Raphaël. Mujô 無常, Nagare 流れ, Fukkô 復興 : entre tradition et modernité, le Tokyo Sky Tree et la culture de l’impermanence, du flux et de la renaissance au Japon. In: Transtext(e)s Transcultures 跨文本跨文化, 2012, n° 7. doi: 10.4000/transtexts.463
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Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal2105-2549

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