Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tokyo Station is a symbol of the restoration of Japan !?

As I mentioned in my previous post, Tokyo Station, which was designed by Tatsuno Kingo, has been fascinating people since it was built in 1914 because its appearance is unique and impressive. However, some parts of the station were burned down during World War Ⅱ, and were rebuilt in different forms. Not only to make the station more earthquake resistant but also to restore its appearance to its original state, the station had been under construction since 2007. On the 1st of October, the renovation was finally completed. The station is expected to attract more people.

The other day, I happened to see a TV program about this renovation of Tokyo Station on NHK, the Japan's national public broadcast station. An episode which was introduced on the program was very impressive, so I'll talk about it here. First of all, could you see the last picture of Link #1 below or the attached picture? This is the central part of Tokyo Station which was restored to its original state. The black roof is made of slate tiles (click here).

When the station was built in 1914, the roof was made of the slate tiles from Ogatsu town, Ishinomaki city, Miyagi prefecture (宮城県石巻市雄勝町). Because of this, it was decided that the rood would be restored and renovated by using slate tiles from this town. The town accepted the order, mined slate and manufactured slate tiles. On March, 2011, packed slate tiles were stored in a warehouse. The town was waiting for them to be shipped.

On the 11th of March, 2011, as you may know, a massive earthquake hit Japan. The town was washed away by a huge tsunami (Please see the fifth picture from the last in Link #1). When the people involved found that the warehouse had been washed away, they were sure that the slate tiles had been also washed away or smashed. Contrary to their expectation, many of the packed slate tiles remained there and seemed undamaged. They strongly hoped to use the slate tiles for the roof restoration of Tokyo Station if these tiles were OK. They wanted to make it a symbol of the restoration of the town seriously damaged by the tsunami.

About twenty-thousand slate tiles were picked out from the rubble. The people involved and many volunteers carefully washed mud off the tiles one by one in the tsunami-stricken area (Please see the third picture from the last in Link #1). After that, the tiles were checked to see whether or not they had cracks and if they were usable. Then, the ones that were fine were used for the roof restoration of Tokyo Station as planned. I didn't know this until I saw the TV show. When I pass by the station, I want to look up at the roof while thinking of their thoughts.

By the way, the station withstood a massive earthquake which hit Tokyo in 1923. As I mentioned above, during World War Ⅱ, some parts of its exterior and many parts of its interior were burned down. Right after the end of the war, the damaged parts of the station were rebuilt in different forms. I've heard that, at the time, the station became a symbol of the postwar reconstruction and encouraged people.

Last year, the station could withstand that massive earthquake again during the renovation. Then, the entire renovation was finally completed yesterday. The station has regained its original appearance and has become more attractive. I do hope that the station will become a symbol of the restoration from the catastrophic disaster which happened on the 11th of March, 2011.

Link #1