On an early summer day as the breezes began to blow, an event of superhuman proportions occurred in the heart of Umeda, a busy section of Osaka.
A frame assembled on the ground weighing about 1,000 tons was lifted to a height of 170 meters in the air, so smoothly and quietly that it looked as if a balloon had been attached to it. Normally, if I had witnessed an urban event which at first blush assaulted the senses, I would have been enraged, not impressed. But this time I felt something like expectation welling inside me.
In the past, I used to get an excited when I came across something tall or high. I always had the urge to climb up and look down on the world below. I even felt envious of a friend who had always lived on an upper floor. Though I’m no longer a child, I still feel pretty much the same.
Man's reaming for the sky can be confirmed in the flow of history, ranging from the Inca ruins of Machu Pichu in Peru to the Laputa Island of Gulliver's Travel, not to mention the Tower of Babel or the Light house at Alexandria. And even though we today live in an age when considerable advances in science and technology have already been achieved and nearly all of man's dreams and aspirations have been realized, man still never seems to stop yearning to reach for the sky, This yearning, handed down through history from generation to generation, shared by human consciousness in all ages and regions, is symbolized by the garden in the sky in the ancient city of Babylonia. Man has never stopped dreaming about such gardens.
The structure under discussion here has triggered heated debate in every comer. Taken commonsensically, however, there is nothing so unusual or criminal about it to merit rejection by society. The only reason it has touched off a heated controversy seems to be that it gives concrete shape to the garden in the sky concept, the chimera mankind has pursued from ancient times.
This mysterious structure, a garden lifted high up into the sky, clearly reflects the surrounding streets on its walls. It is as if it were hiding its own feet by deliberately calling attention to other images. There is nothing here to remind one of the high-rise buildings which stand so firmly on the ground. The overriding aim of this structure is exposure to fresh air 170 meters above the Osaka cityscape.
It is of course possible to simply dismiss this as one more scene symbolizing Japan's bubble economy, now gone. But at the risk of sounding defensive, I cannot help but regard affirmatively the concept of the garden in the sky, which in all ages has coexisted with man's hope of creating the ideal city.
Text by Hiroshi Innami 1993/12