Japan

Travelled in Japan mainly Tokyo (1st time) and Kyoto (2nd time) in October.  Back again now for 2 weeks giving 2 lectures at Kyoto University and 1 in Osaka. The weather is cold and often cloudy which helps thin the tourist numbers.  It is best to visit November through March.  

There is an unmatched level of aesthetic achievement in Japan.  Yes, there is the generic late capitalist reality everywhere but at the other end of the scale there are stunning aesthetic manifestations.  It operates on sophisticated sensory priorities with vision generally privileged.  Engaging this world may cause aesthetic trauma.  Really.  Using mere language cannot communicate the depth and substance of the emotional and psychological impact. 

The obsession with beauty and all the "wet sleeves" in the Tale of Genji was curious to me at first. Now I understand better. Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows” is recommend. Beauty is only possible because it is fleeting.

 

Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, again.

My 3rd visit over some 40 years to Villa Savoye.  It is now restored and in good condition with very tall trees framing and shielding the site.  A concrete example of Le Corbusier's 5 Points, this shell could serve as a wonderful weekend party house as intended but how might one use it in any other manner?  The tiled bathtub has nasty sharp edges and the ramps tnow seem too steep going up or down.  If I remember correctly, there were primary colors originally but not now.  How would one furnish it?  How would one occupy it?  It is such a powerful framing of modern life that one would need to simply submit to its logic and Le Corbusier.