20 March 2006
Redevelopment in Tokyo is at an all time high, but with big construction comes consequence. On this city walk 26 lighting detective set off on a river tour to rediscover Nihonbashi and Sumida Rivers. As more and more light is spreading throughout the city, we set out to rediscover the contrast and shadows of these closed off rivers.
Survey by: Teruhiko Kubota
An Artificial Darkness
Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza….All places that come to mind as hot Tokyo night spots, and all places a glow in a dull brightness. All are crowded, loud, and built-up with as much lighting to match. But on this city walk along Nihonbashi and Suimda Rivers, my impression of Tokyo changed. In contrast to these areas of obnoxious light, the river ways were filled with shadows. They weren’t gloomy, dark shadows, but man-made shadows under bridges, overpasses, and highway junctions. I was pleasantly surprised to see these places left in Tokyo; especially under bridges it was pitch-dark!! Darkness and shadows don’t leave one with a warm-fuzzy impression, but this river trip awoke something in me. We go through each day and night in such brightly lit places that we might be taking dark places for granted that they will always be somewhere. After this experience on the “dark side” the main areas of Tokyo seem extremely bright. As a lighting designer, our job is to create space using light as our tool, I realized once again that Tokyo needs saving from its overzealous lighting.
Light Through the Darkness
It’s not worth mentioning, but lighting effects work better in dark places. I wanted to rediscover this principal on this trip and I brought along xenon lamps to perform a little experiment of mine. It was simple, but the results really interesting. We just shown the light in the direction the boat was heading. If we illuminated the surface of the water we could see the waves hitting the riverbank and illuminated the underside of the bridges created an interesting lighting effect straight out of a spy movie.
The Edo Bridge junction, an area where four different parts of the highway come together, form a complex system of overpasses and is a tangle of light and shadows. Headlights shining on the twisting overpass structure above reflected on the river surface. It is important to look at the ordinary from an extraordinary angle sometimes. One just might find something new and interesting.