Modernity, space and national representation at the Tokyo Olympics 1964
After the Second World War, Japan wanted the world to regain faith in their country and decided to do so with sport. They were not alone in this idea, Italy and Germany did the same thing, using the Olympics as a way to modernise and show this off to the world. Through doing this, they were showing that the country itself had moved forward, that it had modernised itself. They wanted to put the war behind them and become a part of world wide culture.
This is an interesting and very powerful way of changing perceptions. I found it interesting that the Tokyo Games held a marathon before beginning, this in itself is not abnormal, but the way they did is. Instead of focusing on traditional elements of their culture, as Rome did by showing off their grand Empire architecture, Japan mad it very clear that they had moved forwards by focusing on the modern buildings. The marathon purposely went past new architecture, and it did this as the first Games to be transmitted world wide via live satellite. They sending a message to the world that Japan had changed.
However, even though they were stating change, I am fascinated to see that they did not forget their past. They ensured that their Games held a historical context. The new architecture did not destroy or ignore the old, it referenced it. They even insisted on the Meiji Shrine playing a large roll. I like that they layered their Olympic Games with historical meaning, even if it did result in Western journalists becoming a bit confused by it. Perhaps the what should be taken there is that for something world wide, the message should be accessible and understandable for all. Showing history and meaning is good, but only when it is understood by the people viewing it.
This said though, the key thing which I have taken from this reading is just how much emphasis Japan put on the rebuilding of Tokyo signifying modernity. They wanted to get the country back on track with its progression and by rebuilding their capital, Japan showed that they could take a city which had been all but destroyed and rise into a new era. I admire this and think that it is a strong tactic. I love that architecture can possess such power and convey such a message.
Architecture can be understood by all, it is a global connection that we all have through one way or another. Everyone watching the live broadcast of that marathon would have seen the modern Tokyo and taken in that message. A message made from physical form, and one which travelled across the world.