Thursday, September 23, 2010


Kyoto is nowhere near the ocean. It's a mountain-girded city. Tourists don't come here in quest of marine life. And there's no need to point out that one of the world's most famed aquariums, the Kaiyukan in Osaka, is less than an hour away on Japan's world-class railway system. Wonder if the bureaucrats thought of that... Something seems fishy here... Does Bhutan have an aquarium? Is there an aquarium in Kathmandu?

All the world knows Kyoto, and if they haven't visited, they'd love to. So far. They don't cross oceans to see the new train station - locally known as Stalin's Office, aesthetically decided by governmental committees of businessmen; nor do they come to view marine life.

Visitors to the ancient capital come to see the legendary city, the city built by warriors, monks and artisans, the city famed for the reach of its history, the depth of its serenity, the breadth of its understanding of how heart, spirit and mind can grow in beauty throughout life and the world. They come to savor and absorb that quality, bring it into their lives, take it home; they come for spiritual nutrition. Then they arrive at Stalin's Office.

Is this really Kyoto? They hastily move on out of there and wander off amidst the swell of modern dross in search of the treasures for which Kyoto is yet renowned, and maybe in the course of their pilgrimage go to where there once was a restful park but now they can look at some fish. Wait, what? Yes, the city officials are at it again. Not history, not tradition, not subtle understanding--what could they be after, one might wonder, having viewed the landlocked sea life of the bureaucratic mind.

Urban travesties are not in short supply these days, but Kyoto is a burgeoning example of what can be achieved with a long-lived shortsight committee.

Hungry souls that fly over oceans to get here do not come to gaze at fish. Besides, there's already a genuine Kyoto Aquarium in Koreatown in Los Angeles, as shown in the photo. Which, as a long-standing pet shop, makes a lot more sense.

If you care about Kyoto and what it means to humanity, please go here and sign the petition, especially if you live elsewhere in the world, to which Kyoto truly belongs. And feel free to pass it on.


Apprentice said...

Not to mention Kyoto Tower - whose idea was that anyways?
But somehow these days I am nostalgic for the old girl. Each time I visit Japan and am on the Shinkansen - coming from the west anyway - you can see Kyoto Tower rising majestically over it's humbled neighbor, Toji pagoda, as you approach the city.
There used to be a Saiji pagoda making a twin tower entrance to the ancient capital - but it was torn down to make a Moss Burger in the Meiji era I think - had to westernize...

Robert Brady said...

Sadly, these days I miss the old girl even when I'm there...