The basic idea is to create an interactive map of Tokyo, charting instances of rapid destruction (1923 earthquake, WWII), social upheaval (protests of the 1960’s), and random acts of violence (1995 sarin gas attack, the 2008 Akihabara massacre), along with the city’s own growth and changes during the post-war years. Then I would juxtapose this historical data with trends in media related to the destruction of Tokyo and to see how media becomes a barometer for fears generated from past trauma or changes.
Though not all change and destruction in Tokyo is the result of horrific disasters or war. Tokyo is a city that almost perpetually has buildings being torn down and new ones being built up. According to a Frekonomics podcast, half of all homes in Japan are demolished after only 38 years (http://freakonomics.com/2014/02/27/why-are-japanese-homes-disposable-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast-3/). Death and rebirth become cyclical parts of daily life that shape Tokyo, literally and figuratively.
So why focus on Japan and Tokyo? From the 1980’s (arguably earlier) to today, we have seen Japanese pop culture become more and more present in the American cultural landscape. It informs how we perceive Japan’s history and culture (though sometimes these perceptions may be skewed) and once obscure portions of Japanese arts and media have now become common knowledge thanks to fan communities, bloggers, publishers, and other people bridging the gap between our culture and Japan’s. Through this exchange, we’ve seen the Japanese death/rebirth cycle take form in movies, tv shows, books, video games, and more. Mothra snaps Tokyo Tower in twain, only for it to be in one piece again the next time Godzilla emerges from the murky depths.
This project would act as a way to chart Japan’s history, it’s changes in media, and it would ultimately take the form of a website which would be viewed by people interested in media, history, and Japanese culture.