chapter  3
23 Pages

The manshon conflicts

Strolling eastwards along Shijô Avenue towards its crossing with Kawaramachi Avenue back in 1998 wouldn’t have given me – or most other people – the feeling of being in a historical or beautiful city. It was hardly a leisurely stroll anyway, with the narrow, roofed pavements crammed with pedestrians, while, on the much wider road, the illegally parked taxis and the stop-and-go of diesel buses brought traffic to a crawl. On both sides were lined up department stores, shops and office buildings, without any apparent coordination of height or design – some as tall as eleven floors. An attentive eye would have noticed that shop signs and neon lights were less flamboyant than elsewhere in Japan, but, otherwise, a small wedge of lush greenery visible above where the deadstraight Shijô Avenue ends in the distance was the only thing to intimate a special city (Figure 3.1).