passing through shibuya


I don’t know why but I do anything humanly possible to avoid Shibuya — Tokyo’s hip city within the city. Last night, though, I had no choice, since the people I was travelling with insisted on changing from the JR line to the just opened Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, which calls Shibuya its terminal.

Now I had heard that the new subway station is egg-shaped cavern, designed by none other than Tadao Ando. I am not sure if we found it, but we did ride an escalator that descended through a curvy canopy-like, miniature mock-up of the Sydney Opera Hall. It felt crammed in, but could that have been it?

Probably, since Ando — or rather the industry that is the Ando office — these days seldom delivers what he promises. Japan’s best known architect, Ando isn’t so much a builder now as a jackhammer or an Occam’s razor for the construction industry. Whenever a project runs into protests or conservationists — think of the shopping mall that Omotesando Hills and what it replaced — officials call him, because no one can really argue against his imprimatur.