Lost Japan

February 21, 2007

…is a book.

The English Translation of the Japanese “Utsukushiki Nippon no Zanzo” (lit. Last Glimpse fo Beautiful Japan) written by an American, Alex Kerr, a long time resident of Japan.

The Japanese version published in 1993 was the result of a series of articles in Shincho 45 Magazine. It won the 1994 Shincho Gakugei Literature Prize – the first foreign author to win this prize.

It is an excellent book, much better than his more enbittered and depressing Dogs and Deamons. On page 49 he writes:

“It is estimated that of Japan’s thirty thousand rivers and streams only three remain undammed, and even these have had thir streambeds and banks encased in concrete. “

I’ll pause there for dramatic effect.

riverbank concrete
This is one from Alex Kerr’s window showing the concereted river banks, a view one can find everywhere in Japan.

He continues:

“Concrete blocks now account for over thirty percent of the several thousand kilometers of the country’s coastline.”

Astonishing statistics. These are the concrete blocks he is referring to:

tetrapods up close

I posted about tetrapods before.

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