Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tsukuba, Science Nightmare

I spent last night in Tsukuba, about an hour and a half northeast of Tokyo.  The landscape out there is a pretty mind-boggling contrast to Tokyo - huge, empty spaces, darkness, and six-lane roads. So late at night, it was like being on the moon or the north pole, empty and silent and oddly beautiful.  In that way, it's not far off from my hometown of Dallas/Fort Worth.  And oddly, there was a hip hop club there, a small place called Sol Y Luna, where I was lucky enough to see Nanorunamonai of Origami.  It felt a lot more like going to a club in the U.S. than anything in Tokyo - for instance, people were actually hanging out outside of the club, which pretty much never happens in town.  Still, I couldn't help being pretty bemused by the American guy trying to tell me how great it was to live in Tsukuba.  It didn't take me long to find the great side of living in Iowa, however remote - but my instincts all those years ago telling me to get the hell out of Fort Worth were absolutely spot on.  These places that are neither fruitfully urban - that is, not multi-use, walkable, and vibrant - nor truly rural, places that have been built to look like cities but are really just places for people to use their cars, are genuinely the worst accomplishments of human civilization.

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