People: compactness


‘Compactness and visual aesthetics, stressed in so many areas of Japanese landscape, are especially developed in the ekiben (lunch boxes) sold on trains and at railway stations, where limitations of space and cost require great ingenuity in the designing of containers and the arranging of food. The fact that the ekiben are served cold presents no particular problem, because food is often eaten cold; it is the freshness and quality of the ingredients that are important. Ekiben are generally made from produce of the local region. For Japanese travelers an ekiben is not just a meal but also a way to establish a direct physical relationship with the area they happen to be passing through. The fish may have been caught in that bay over there, the greens picked on that mountain, the rice grown in the paddy field just outside the train window. In this sense, travelers are not restricted to merely watching the landscape pass by – they can taste it, too   The Japanese are indeed the genius loci for the small place, the guardians of the ‘inside’. Thus, gardens are an inside world, and large parks are a landscape malediction. The urban small plot is a refinement, but the overall pattern of the city is one of interdigitation of land uses. To the Occidental mind, that pattern appears as a lack of zoning, an inchoate and incoherent urban design.’

Karan, P.P. (2005). Japan in the 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society. University Press of Kentucky.

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