The eighteenth of March, 2011: nostalgic for factories

Tough times for Japan. It’s seven days since the earthquake hit. You can help, a little bit, here – but then, there may not be a lot that anyone can do to help… so do as you please.

This is, I suppose, an unfortunate time to be fetishising Japanese industrial plants (with workers still struggling to damp down the Fukushima reactors). But kojo moe made me smile nevertheless.

I came across it today in Private Eye‘s ‘Funny Old World’ column. It isn’t funny but oh well. Kojo moe translates as something like ‘factory infatuation’; it’s a growing subsector of the Japanese tourism industry.

“The geometric patterns of metal pipes and frames, eerie smokes and flames, they remind me of the designs of H.R. Giger,” enthusiast Daigo Yokota told CNN. “It is great to be able to experience a completely different world less than an hour’s drive away.”

Masaki Ishitani added: “Kawasaki factories are the biggest, most beautiful and the most wonderful in Japan – just like the movie Blade Runner.”

I’m fond of industrial landscapes (and of Blade Runner), so I can see their point. There’s some nice photography here; I also like these kojo moe-inspired sketches by Mike Daikubara, who takes the idea a step further (actually I like all his sketches: they remind me a great deal of Stephen Wiltshire’s juvenile work).

Here’s a video from the Wall Street Journal. And here’s a great article from the Japan Times.

“Factories represent functional beauty on a scale that is never seen in other structures,” says Tetsu Ishii, the creator of this book.

I might as well add that, in the same issue of Private Eye, I came across this:

200,000: number of people evacuated from the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plants after the earthquake and tsunami destabilised their  reactors.

29: number of times that Tepco (owner of the Fukushima nuclear power plant) was found to have falsified safety records to conceal damage to reactors after a whistleblower alerted the authorities in 2002.

Best of luck, people of Japan.

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