Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wrecking Ball for the Kabuki-za

I was a bit shocked while reading a recent BBC News article concerning the Kabuki-za, a kabuki theater located in the Ginza district of Tokyo. The article, (here) reports that the iconic theater is slated to be demolished in 2010. One of the questionable reasons a company spokesman gave for the decision was that the theater "doesn't have enough toilets."

A notion persists that when it comes to urban planning, property owners have the final word. And that, generally speaking, the people in charge know best. There is little protection from demolition for landmark buildings, even when they are labelled - as the Kabuki-za is - "tangible cultural assets".

I had the opportunity of seeing some performances at the Kabuki-za last January, and I can attest that the building looks great. Its a bit of a jewel of Ginza I think, as there aren't many buildings like that left anywhere.

The article also mentions the 1968 destruction of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Imperial Hotel, a sacrilege to a resident of Springfield, home of Wright's Dana-Thomas House. I hope that everyone will come to their senses before Japan completely destroys its own physical heritage in favor of ugly and ever-larger concrete rectangles.


  1. We went there on the BreakAway...that's so sad that they want to tear it down!

  2. Although historic building in the US get torn down all the time as well, I think the historic preservation laws are stronger here in the US then they are in Japan.

  3. Im glad we went there already. That's too bad. That place is great! The sake barrels outside of the building are awesome too.. Hopefully we can go there again before they destroy it!! I bet there are a lot of people against that...

  4. Yeah, I wish there would be some sort of public backlash, but I wouldn't count on it. People are pretty accepting of these things it seems.