Topic: Concrete Japan
In Japan, incinerator becomes a work of art
Boston Globe | June 20, 2004
HIROSHIMA, Japan --
''What a dump," as Bette Davis put it.
Visitors to the Hiroshima City Naka Incineration Plant are likely to utter the famous line from ''Beyond the Forest" with an entirely different intonation, however...to deal with trash in a country with little space to spare, and city authorities made the bold decision to build a monument to waste and put it on a site where people would have to take notice: over the city's main street....
.... This building is meant for quiet contemplation, either of the elegantly tamed nature outside or the treasures locked in the interior structure, their mystery protected by thick stone walls. No natural light penetrates this space. A single entrance beckons, and in this case, the approach is dramatic. Here are magical objects in dark surroundings that protect them from the damaging effects of sun. Your eyes adjust; you notice the splendor of an eighth-century ''Kanjoban." A bronze canopy and banners once used in religious rituals, it looks like a shower of golden lace falling in the stairwell. Beyond is a room with gold-colored walls that emphasize the preciousness of the contents: 48 small, ancient, gilt bronze Buddhist statues, each housed in its own glass case....
.... The building's message is that garbage is not only part of life, but an interesting part that deserves our attention. So the trash transformation is completely visible. Visitors watch it through huge glass walls. A touch-screen system in both Japanese and English explains every bit of the process; a timeline chronicles the history of garbage in the city. In the ''Refuse Pit," giant claw-like machines lift and aerate the trash, so it will burn better. The process is mesmerizing, something out of science fiction...
It always is a marvel of Japan to me that zillions are spent on the world's worst space program or history?s greatest science initiative failure, the 5th Generation Computer Project, but Japan has yet to make any viable effort in better garbage disposal. ASIMO and kick butt, but Japan doesn?t come near German tech. Even though millions of Japanese are dioxin poisoned by their low-tech, low-temp, incinerators, nobody here thinks of exotic tech like plasma burning of trash. Oh I forget, T.I.J.