Simply yesterday, Japan totally re-opened its borders to tourism after a protracted interval of COVID-19-motivated closure. This ought to show economically invigorating, given how a lot demand to go to the Land of the Rising Solar has constructed up over the previous couple of years. Even earlier than the pandemic, Japan had been a rustic of nice curiosity amongst world vacationers, and for greater than half a century at that. A lot of that attractiveness has, after all, to do with its distinctive nature, which manifests each deep custom and hyper-modernity without delay.
However a few of it additionally has to do with the truth that, since rising from the devastation of the Second World Conflict, Japan has hardly shied away from self-promotion. “A Day in Tokyo,” the brief movie on the prime of the put up, was produced by the Japan Nationwide Tourism Group in 1968.
Its vivid coloration footage of Japan’s nice metropolis, “the world’s largest and liveliest,” captures on a regular basis life because it was then lived in Tokyo’s malls, inventory exchanges, building websites, and zoos.
The movie places a great deal of emphasis on the capital’s still-ongoing postwar transformation: “In a continuing metabolic cycle of destruction and creation, Tokyo progresses at a dizzying tempo,” declares the movie’s narrator. “Individuals who haven’t seen Tokyo for ten years, and even 5, would scarcely acknowledge it right now.” And if Tokyo was dizzying within the late nineteen-sixties, it grew to become positively disorienting within the eighties. On the again of that period’s financial bubble, Japan appeared about to develop into the wealthiest nation on the planet, and Tokyoites each labored and performed accordingly onerous.
This two–half compilation of scenes from Japan within the eighties conveys that point with footage drawn from quite a lot of sources, together with function movies (not least Itami Jūzō’s beloved 1985 ramen comedy Tampopo.) “It was a magical place at a magical time,” remembers one American commenter who lived in Japan again then. “All the things appeared doable. All people was prospering. Nearly each loopy enterprise concept appeared to succeed. Individuals have been blissful and shared their happiness and luck with others. It was like no different place on earth.”
As dramatically because the bubble burst on the finish of the eighties, Japanese life within the subsequent “misplaced many years” has additionally possessed a richness of its personal. You may see it on this compilation of footage of Japan within the nineties and two-thousands from the identical channel, TRNGL. Although it not appeared capable of purchase up the remainder of the world, the nation had by that period constructed up a worldwide consciousness of its tradition by exporting its movies, its animation, its music, its video video games, and rather more apart from. Even for those who haven’t seen this Japan in particular person, you’ve come to understand it via its artwork and media.
Should you’re contemplating making the journey, this video of “Japan these days” will provide you with a way of what you’ve been lacking. The Tokyo of the twenty-first century proven in its clips actually isn’t the identical metropolis it was in 1968. But it stays “an intermingling of Orient and Occident, seemingly new, however truly previous,” because the narrator of “A Day in Tokyo” places it. “Beneath its fashionable exterior, there nonetheless lingers an environment of previous glories. The residents stay unalterably Japanese, and but this nice metropolis is ready to accommodate and perceive individuals of all races, languages, and beliefs” — individuals now arriving by the 1000’s as soon as once more.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.