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Friday, December 11, 2015

Ruining The Ruins In Nara

First things first: Happy birthday to my son Hudson, good buddy Julien, and to David, a younger school friend of Hudson's.  

Recently, archaeologists digging the site of a former police station in the city of Nara, found evidence that a powerful aristocratic family once lived in that area during the Nara-jidai (Nara era) of 710-784AD.

They found evidence of some 37 buildings and 10 wells, so it was indeed a sizable manor. That's it in the photo above (photo by Kazunori Takahashi, and printed in The Asahi Shimbun on December 3, 2015 - see HERE for the full article.)

While I was excited to read about the find, the rest of Japan appears to be hoo-hum about the whole thing…. so much so that even though there were plans to build hotels et al on the spot before the discovery, those plans are likely to NOT change at all!

The Nara prefectural government, noting that there is a shortage of hotels in the prefecture, says that the site where the old manor was discovered is on the perfect site to alleviate the hotel shortcomings.

And, should you think otherwise, submitted plans for said hotels are not going to have to be resubmitted even though this fantastic archaeological discovery has since come to light.

A Nara prefectural official who was in charge of attracting new business to the prefecture says that although it will take great care to document the discovery, there are no plans to review the proposed development of the site.

Hmmm… I know that Japan likes to believe it needs more room to grow its economy, but to do so at the cost of some of its cultural heritage seems rather lazy.

All the Nara government has to do is suggest that the land developer come up with a new plan that would allow development but could preserve the archaeological find.

Perhaps glass floors so visitors could walk over and see the remnants of the aristocratic manor that sits close to the Heijokyu palace and the residence of Prince Nagaya, grandson of Emperor Tenmu (?-686), who was forced to commit suicide as political turmoil raged.

Couldn't the site be preserved if the buildings themselves were simply built up, as in above them? Placed on stilts with elevators to take the hotel guests and hookers up two levels to the actual hotel?   

I don't know… I'm not an architect… but surely some compromise could be achieved to ensure a part of Japan's great history isn't obliterated by a building site of hotels.

I think what I find appalling, however, is that there is not discussion about the preservation of the site from the Nara government.

Whatever. You'll do what you will do simply because changing one's plans would mean you need to change with the times. Both presently and historically.

As an aside… wait… they demolished an old police station and then found these ruins? That means there is already a precedent for simply building over the ruins…

... so.. why would Japan want to get things right now?

Andrew Joseph 

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