Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Roppongi: Not Like Essex or Sheffield
Roppongi is another brightly-lit suburb of Tokyo, recently famous for its shopping mall and entertainment complex at Roppongi Hills.
There is some great architecture around here: clean concrete lines, fountains, odd modern art sculptures and polygonal buildings shaped like the Jawa’s giant droid-carrying truck from Star Wars.
In fact, it’s very much a place that could be used for some futuristic movie sequence – think Total Recall, Demolition Man or Back To The Future 2.
However, have to say was a bit disappointed with the actual shopping centre itself. From the guidebook, I had been led to believe that this was a Meadow Hall, Bluewater or Lakeside and it’s not.
It’s one of the strangest shopping malls I’ve ever visited. Whilst it is beautifully designed with its rich oaky panelling, ornate water features and hanging gardens I couldn’t really find many shops – a key requirement in any shopping centre, I think.
Put simply, it’s almost as if the makers only had applications for 30 or so stores, so decided to spread them out over as a wide an area as possible whilst filling the space in between with snazzy stone cladding and polished chrome escalators.
It’s not a horrible place, just a bit confusing. You find yourself on another faux-wooden panelled walkway, crossing another marble floor or wandering through another atrium only to be met by maybe a mobile phone shop in one corner and a tiny cake shop in the other. The shop is tiny, by the way, not the cakes.
“Where are the shops?” you shout. In your head, obviously.
In a city where space is at a premium, I am surprised that the Japanese haven’t been tempted to really pack ‘em in.