东京之大 – How great is Tokyo

去年(2012)2月,承蒙日本国际交流基金的邀请,我有机会访问日本40天。主要接待机构兼常住地是早稻田大学,另外也到访仙台的东北大学、京都的立命馆大学以及北海道大学。东京这座城市我已经访问多次,但是每次都是匆匆过客,难以进行深入的考察。这一次时间较长,积累的观感颇多,也有机会与更多人士交流。住地离神保町书店街很近,多次逛书店。书店里看到不少关于这座城市的书籍,不过,语言障碍还是一个问题。从前钱锺书先生到京都大学座谈,开头就夸奖日本汉学成就斐然,不过,他说:“我是日语的文盲,面对着贵国‘汉学’或‘支那学’的丰富宝库,就像一个既不懂号码锁,又没有开撬工具的穷光棍,瞧着大保险箱,只好眼睁睁地发愣。”其实,跟其他语言不同,日语里夹杂着很多汉字,中国人又不是完全不通;看书名,读书页,大致可以知道一本书的主题,却又难以细致地理解内容。那个保险箱是用半透明材料做成。依稀可以看到里面有些金银财宝,无法打开,不只是“眼睁睁地发愣”,用现在网上流行词汇,简直要抓狂。

交通与建筑

让我就以一个无知者的身份谈谈粗浅的见解吧。东京是一座庞大的城市,比起北京或上海这样的中国城市更显庞大。因为日本的这类都市基本上都是城连城。例如,东京与横滨是两个城市,不过,乘坐轻轨,看着两侧高楼林立的城市风景,还没有感觉出东京,就已经到达横滨了。这种都市群的格局让人平添一种大得走不出去的感觉。

东京之大,还体现在这座城市高度密集的地上和地下的交通网络。过去,曾有人把东京与北京的地铁图并列贴在微博上,疏密之间的巨大反差令人惊叹。乘坐地铁时,你会看到,这还不仅仅是路网疏密的差异,更主要的是,转车路线以及出口设计都最大限度地便利乘客。每个地铁站几乎都有六七个出口,一些出口直接商场、博物馆、火车站等人群密集流动的场所。还有,地铁站内部店铺多多,可以说构成了地下的又一个东京。在上下班高峰时段,在一些中心车站,人流涌动,摩肩接踵,令人感叹着地下东京的超凡活力。

建筑风格上,东京也是大器庄严的。皇居在明治维新前是江户城,现在位居东京市中心。与北京的紫禁城类似,周围环绕着护城河。但与紫禁城的红砖墙不同的是,皇居城墙是用巨大的石块垒起来的,城墙上,可以看到里面参天的古树。城墙外表和城门没有太多的装饰,石则石颜,木则木色,一任其本来面目,却透露出一种对自然的敬畏和独特的审美观。不仅仅在东京,像京都这样的古城,寺庙与世俗建筑都显示出这样的特色。1853年随从美国海军准将佩里(Mathew C. Perry)叩关江户,打开日本国门的传教士卫三畏(S.Wells Williams),此前已经在广州居住20年,登陆日本时,曾比较日本与中国的服饰差异,他说日本的官员服饰“花花绿绿,相当怪诞,显示出他们的品位不高,比起中国的长袍差远了”。但是,日本人在建筑及其配套环境的品位上,比起中国反自然的朱梁画栋、金闪银耀来,或许要更加自然和高明。

当然,东京的现代建筑已经是风格多样,从高处俯瞰一下银座、新宿等商业区,也是高楼林立,多姿多彩。某些明治维新以后建设的楼宇展现了对西方古典风格的追求,尤其在大学里,这类建筑很多,例如东京大学的安田讲堂、一桥大学的主体建筑群、早稻田大学的大隈讲堂等。另外,著名设计师冈田新一设计的日本最高法院,也是独具一格的现代派建筑。

跟那些体量庞大的现代建筑相比,我更感兴趣的是平民的住宅。在一些安静的街区里,一栋栋两层三层楼房,密密麻麻地紧挨在一起。我不知道住在这样自家所有的低层楼房里的人口比例,不过那确实是许多寻常人家的常态住所。一位日本朋友告诉我,这类房子最早都是私人买下土地,邀请专业设计所根据房主的审美爱好设计建造。由于土地所有权得到法律的严格和永久保障,因此房主不仅重视设计上的独具特色,而且施工上也力求材料坚固,以长久地为子孙后代提供庇荫。

神保町的古书街

让我感受东京之大的,最富于冲击力的也许不是建筑,而是书店。也许有读者会奇怪:书店?哪座城市没有一些书店呢。可是,当你来到神田,或者叫做靖国通り的那条大街的一长段上,鳞次栉比的楼宇中,居然布满了书店。准确的数量是一百八十余家,其中旧书店——日语称之为“古书店”,有一百六十多间。过去我曾经到过这里,但因为行程仓促,只是在最边缘的两家书店匆匆买了几本书。这次时间充裕,一个月里,我去了七八次,但也只是局部。逛书店是个累活,站在书架前,左看看,右翻翻,不知不觉就是半晌。中午找一家小店吃一碗拉面,顺便歇息一下,下午接着看。一天下来,几本收获,满心乐趣。

这里的书店不仅数量多,而且品类丰富,专业齐整,语种多样。不仅有书籍,还有作家和各界名人的手稿、书法以及浮世绘等。我在几家卖“洋书”(专指西文书)的店里看到不少西方18、19世纪出版的老版本,有些在“原产国”恐怕也是稀见品了。我看到格劳修斯的《战争与和平之法》(1631年荷兰文版,价35万日元),看到约1748年出版的孟德斯鸠《论法的精神》法文版(22万日元),看到11卷本的《边沁通信集》,还有我有中文译本的斯坦因哈佛演讲集、赫定关于中亚探险的那本名著的斯德哥尔摩初版……

在逛这些书店时,我一边感叹,一边也有些不解:为什么东京有如此繁华的古书业?在我到过的所有城市里,无论是欧洲,还是北美,抑或是亚洲其他国家,相比之下,神保町书店街真正是首屈一指。是日本人格外热爱读书?地铁里一卷在手的人确实很多,我甚至看到一个老太太捧着一本桑德尔的《正义》读得津津有味。爱阅读的人多,自然也就会催生书店业的发达。但是,旧书店这么多,还是需要别的原因解释。

在历史上,日本从中国输入了许多典章制度,但是,两国之间,历史的连贯性有着巨大的反差。日本的君主,从来都不是通过征服而登基。虽然天皇在幕府时代曾长期沦为符号,然而却未曾有过改朝换代的情况,所谓万世一系,良非虚言。在中国,改朝换代,乃是周期性发生的故事。朝代的更替不只是“城头变幻大王旗”而已,还伴随着对前朝种种的激烈排斥。对前朝文武的杀戮,前朝遗民的自我放逐,当然也需要消除那些不利于本朝合法性的违碍书籍。从秦始皇的焚书坑儒到清朝初期的文字狱,不知道有多少文脉被专制的斧钺无情斩断。一直到“文革”,红卫兵们不是也烧毁了汗牛充栋的“封资修”书籍么?相比之下,日本几乎没有这样代际冤仇,书之祸也得以幸免,也就有了古旧书籍的不断积累和旧书业的蒸蒸日上。这是否是一个重要原因呢?

尊重历史与拥抱世界

在当今世界上,东京毫无疑问是最重要的国际化都市之一。这里的政治制度与西方具有同样的价值基础;贸易连接五洲四海;只要付费,任何电视机都可以收到CNN和BBC;国立西洋美术馆里收藏有鲁本斯、梵高、莫奈、毕加索等大师的作品;欧洲与南美的足球俱乐部冠军年度对决在毗邻东京的横滨举办;人们对于西方音乐艺术有着近乎狂热的追求,这里走出的小泽征尔是享誉世界的指挥大师……

让我感受强烈的是,对于当年以武力相威胁打开日本国门的西方列强,日本人并没有表现出仇恨的心理,相反还有许多感激的表达。在东京芝公园旁边,我意外地发现矗立着一尊佩里准将的塑像,那正是我们前面提到的,率领美国海军舰队陈兵江户湾,迫使日本开放三个港口城市的“黑船事件”的主角。不仅在东京,佩里的塑像也竖立在当年登陆的下田和北海道函馆市。不仅有塑像,还有纪念碑以及纪念馆等。

由于对中外交流史的兴趣,我很留意那些显示这种交流的纪念物。但是所到之处,它们大多数都被毁灭了。美国人华尔(Frederick T.Ward)帮助清政府剿杀太平天国,战死疆场。当年清廷隆重表彰,并在松江为他修墓建庙,如今已经毫无踪迹。我的家乡烟台,早期传教士在传播福音的同时,还兴办教育,赈灾济民,引进了大花生及不少水果的种植,可谓贡献卓著。但是,抗美援朝战事肇端,这些跟战争毫无关系的死者却遭到焚尸扬灰、毁墓砸碑的对待。在北京,明清时代耶稣会传教士利玛窦等人的墓地也历经义和团和红卫兵两次劫难,“文革”结束后修复。不过,这未知是否徒具形式的墓地,现在还封闭在北京市委党校的校园里,一般游客难以参观。这种反历史的意识和行为原因何在,的确是值得我们反思的。

当然,尽管日本人对包括西方列强的侵略遗迹都妥善保存,但这个国家的国际化程度究竟如何,似乎也有很不同的看法。2003年7月,在黑船来航150周年之际,英国《经济学家》杂志发表文章,标题居然是:“佩里叩关百五十年后,和魂洋才境况依旧。(150 years after Commodore Perry,Japanese spirit,western things)”美国著名“和学家”赖肖尔曾经多角度分析过日本的这种既博采众长却又顽固地坚守本位文化的特色,他甚至直率地批评日本人在自卑与傲慢之间周期性地摇摆,在经济和科学上取得令全世界赞美的同时,却仍然与世隔绝,不愿意在国际事务中扮演积极角色。因为赖肖尔教授生于日本,又娶了一个日本夫人,他无论作为哈佛教授,还是美国驻日大使,都表现出对日本的热爱。他的批评或许是日本人乐于接受的。

当然,日本人接受任何事物,都要经过一种审慎的过滤。这也许正是日本之为日本的原因吧。

In February last year (2012), thanks to an invitation from the Japan Foundation, I had an opportunity to visit Japan for 40 days. The main host organisation and place of residence was Waseda University, and I also visited Tohoku University in Sendai, Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, as well as Hokkaido University. I have visited the city of Tokyo many times, but each time I passed through it quickly, and it was difficult to study the city in-depth. This time, my stay was for a longer duration, and I had accumulated more impressions, and also had the chance to interact with more people. The place I lived was very close to Jinbōchō Koshogai (‘Koshogai’ means ‘Old Books Street’), and I wandered through the bookshops many times. Inside, I spotted quite a few books about this city, but the language obstacle was a problem. In the past, Mr. Qian Zhongshu came to Kyoto University to give a lecture, and he started it praising Japan’s achievements in the field of sinology. However, he said: “I am illiterate in Japanese, and facing your honoured country’s rich treasury on sinology, I am like a poor ruffian who neither knows how to open a number lock nor possesses any lock-picking tools, and all I can do as I stare at the large safe is to fall into a daze with my eyes intently fixed on it.” In reality, unlike other languages, there are many Chinese characters in Japanese, and the language is not entirely incomprehensible to the Chinese; one can look at the title, read a few pages, and roughly grasp the key themes while finding it difficult to parse through the content in fine detail. That safe box is made of a semi-transparent material. One can vaguely perceive the treasures inside, but is unable to open it. This is not just ‘falling into a daze with your eyes wide open’. To use a popular phrase on the web, it practically ‘drives you nuts’.

Transport and Architecture

Let me give my two cents worth as someone who knows very little. Tokyo is an enormous city, even more enormous than a city in China like Beijing or Shanghai. This is the case because this type of city in Japan is basically a complex of cities linked together. For example, Tokyo and Yokohoma are two cities, but if you take a monorail and watch the cityscape of skyscrapers pass you by on both sides, while you haven’t felt like you have left Tokyo, you have already reached Yokohoma. This type of arrangement of groups of cities gives one the sense that the city is so large that one can never exit it.

The size of Tokyo is also manifest in the city’s high density in its transport networks above and underground. In the recent past, someone pasted the maps of Tokyo’s and Beijing’s underground systems next to each other on Weibo, and the difference in density between the two was staggering. While riding the underground, you will notice that this is not only a difference in the density of the network of routes; more importantly, transfer routes, entrances, and exits are all designed to maximise the convenience of the passengers. Each stop almost has six or seven exits, some directly linked to shopping malls, museums, railway stations and other places which have a high density of crowds and movement. Moreover, there are many shops inside stations, such that one can say that they form another underground Tokyo. During peak hours, in certain hubs of transport, the flow and movement of people jostling each other cheek by jowl inevitably leads one to exclaim at the extraordinary energy of the Tokyo below ground.

Architecturally speaking, Tokyo is grand and solemn. The royal residence before the Meiji Restoration was in Edo, now in the centre of Tokyo. Similar to Beijing’s Forbidden City, it is surrounded by a moat on all sides. In contrast to the Forbidden City’s red brick walls, the walls of the Royal Palace use huge stone blocks that are stacked together, and from its walls one can see the old trees that reach towards the sky. The exterior of the walls and the palace gates do not have too much ornamentation. The stone is stone-coloured, the wood, wood-coloured; all materials retain their original appearances, but they reveal a respect of nature and a unique aesthetic. Tokyo is not just an isolated case. The old city of Kyoto is also like this, and its religious and secular architecture displays the same characteristics. From 1853, with Commodore of the U.S. Navy Matthew C. Perry’s attack on Edo, Samuel Wells Williams, the missionary that opened Japan’s doors who had earlier lived for 20 years in Guangzhou, compared the differences between Japanese and Chinese dress when he landed in Japan. Williams remarked that the Japanese officials’ clothing was “garish and rather absurd, showing that they did not have refined tastes, and far behind China’s long robes”. However, the taste displayed in Japanese architecture and its accompanying environment, compared to China’s unnaturally brightly coloured and flashy buildings, might perhaps be wiser and more authentic.

Of course, Tokyo’s modern architecture is already very diverse. Looking down from the heights on Ginza, Shinjuku and other business areas, one beholds a myriad of skyscrapers of all shapes and colours. Some buildings built after the Meiji Restoration pursue Western classical styles, which is especially prevalent in university architecture, such as Tokyo University’s Yasuda Auditorium, Hitotsubashi University’s main building, Waseda University’s Ōkuma Auditorium, and so on. In addition, the Japanese Supreme Court, designed by renowned architect Shinichi Okada, is also a uniquely modernist building in a class of its own.

In comparison to those massive bulky modern buildings, I am more interested in the dwellings of the common people. On some quiet streets, blocks of two-storey and three-storey buildings cluster together densely. I don’t know the exact ratio of the population who live in low-rise housing like this, but it is indeed a common type of residence for many. A Japanese friend tells me, the earliest form of this low-rise housing emerged from private individuals buying parcels of land and inviting professional designers to build a house according to the aesthetic tastes and preferences of the owner. Since all the rights of the land were strictly and permanently guaranteed by the law, the owners not only emphasised unique features in the design but also requested strong and durable materials that would make the houses lasting sanctuaries for future generations.

Jinbōchō Koshogai

What really had the most impact and made me sense the greatness of Tokyo was perhaps not its architecture, but its bookshops. Perhaps this may seem slightly strange to readers: bookshops? Which city doesn’t have some bookshops? But, when you reach Kanda, or on that long stretch of the road known as Yasukuni Street, row upon row of buildings are filled with bookshops. Around 180, to be exact, of which the old bookstores, known as “koshoten”, number around 160. The last time I passed here, time was tight, so I only hurriedly bought a few books from two bookstores on the margins of the street. Now I had plenty of time, and in a month, I went there seven to eight times, but even then it was partial. Browsing bookstores is a tiring activity: standing above bookshelves, looking around, and flipping through pages, and a long while has passed without you being aware of it. At noon, I found a small shop and had a bowl of ramen, took a break, and continued exploring in the afternoon. After a day, I had acquired a few books and my heart was filled with contentment.

Not only are the bookshops numerous, they abound in different categories, are neat and professional, and contain books of various languages. In addition to books, they also contain manuscripts, calligraphy, ukiyo-e and many other items from various writers and famous people. In a few shops that sold Western books, I saw quite a few antique books published in the 18th and 19th Century, and some would probably be considered rarities in their country of origin. I saw Grotius’ “On the Laws of War and Peace” (1631, in Dutch, priced at 350,000 Yen), Montesquieu’s “The Spirit of the Laws” published circa 1748 (220,000 Yen), 11 volumes of Bentham’s Letters, my Chinese translation of Stein’s Harvard lectures, the first Stockholm edition of Hedin’s famous work on explorations in Central Asia …

While browsing these bookstores, I sighed in admiration and also felt a certain sense of puzzlement. Why did Tokyo have such a prosperous industry in ancient books? In all the cities I’ve been to, be it other countries in Europe, North America or Asia, Jinbōchō Koshogai was truly second to none. Was it the Japanese are particularly passionate about reading? Those in the underground who held books in their hands were indeed numerous; I even spotted an old lady reading a copy of Michael J. Sandel’s “Justice” with much attention. If there are many who love to read, then naturally this would spur the development of bookshops. However, for there to be so many old bookshops, there had to be other explanations.

Throughout history, Japan had imported many laws and institutions from China. However, the contrast between the two countries’ historical continuity is great. Japan’s monarchs never ascended the throne through conquest. Although the Emperor in the era of the Shogun was for a long time reduced to a symbol, nevertheless, there was never a dynastic change. The saying that the Emperor of Japan “reigned for time immemorial” (bansei ikkei) is true to its word. In China, dynastic change was a periodic occurrence. The change of dynasty was not merely a change of imperial flags in the cities, it was also accompanied by a vigorous rejection of the preceding dynasty in many regards. In addition to the slaughter of the previous dynasty’s officials and warriors as well as the self-imposed exile on the previous dynasty’s adherents, of course, those prohibited books that questioned the legitimacy of the current dynasty had to be eliminated as well. From Qin Shi Huang’s ‘burning of books and burying of scholars’ to the Literary Inquisition during the early Qing Dynasty, the number of writers ruthlessly put to the chopping block by autocrats is uncountable. This continued all the way until the “Cultural Revolution”; didn’t the Red Guards also burn and destroy voluminous collections of “Feudalist”, “Capitalist” and “Revisionist” books? In comparison, Japan hardly had this intergenerational rancour, so it was relatively spared from the catastrophic destruction of books; with the continuous accumulation of old books, the antique book industry also flourished. Could this be an important factor?

Respecting History and Embracing the World

In today’s world, Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the most important international cities. The political system here shares the same cultural foundations as the west. Trade connects it to everywhere else in the world; so long as you pay, any television can connect to CNN and BBC. The National Western Art Gallery contains Reubens, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso and more in its collections. The competition between Europe’s and South America’s football club champions is held yearly in Yokohama, which is near Tokyo. The people pursue Western classical music almost obsessively. Japan’s Seiji Ozawa is a renowned maestro of conducting on the world stage …

What left a deep impression on me was that the Japanese actually do not display a mentality of revenge and hatred towards the past when the West threatened to open the doors of Japan by force, but instead expressed thanks. Beside Tokyo’s Shiba Park, I chanced upon a statue erected for Commodore Perry, who as mentioned before, was the key figure who led the American naval fleet and troops to the bay of Edo and forced Japan to open three port cities in the Perry Expedition (Kurofune raikō). Not only in Tokyo, Perry’s statue was also erected in Shimoda, where he landed that year, and Hakodate, Hokkaido. In addition to the statues, there are also monumental plaques and memorials.

Because of my interest in the history of Chinese foreign relations, I always take note of memorials that bear witness to exchanges between nations. However, wherever they were, most of them have been destroyed. The American Frederick T. Ward helped the Qing Dynasty exterminate the Taiping Rebellion and perished on the battlefield. In that year, the Qing Court solemnly recognised his work, and built a temple and tomb complex for him in Songjiang; today there are no traces left. In my hometown Yantai, missionaries in the early days set up schools, provided humanitarian aid, imported the seedlings for peanuts and various fruits while spreading the gospel, and could be said to have made outstanding contributions. However, in the beginning of the Korean War, these long-deceased people who had nothing to do were the war suffered the desecration of their corpses, ashes and graves. In Beijing, the graves of the Ming/Qing Dynasty Era Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci and others suffered raids twice, once by the “Boxers” and once by the Red Guards, and were only restored after the end of the “Cultural Revolution”. However, this grave, which, for all we know might be an empty shell, is now still sealed in the school grounds of the Beijing Administrative College and is difficult for travellers to visit. The reasons for this anti-historical consciousness and behaviour are indeed worthy of consideration.

Of course, although the Japanese have comprehensively preserved the traces of the Western powers’ invasion, many have rather different views on the actual extent of internationalisation in the country. In July 2003, on the 150th Anniversary of the Perry Expedition, Britain’s the Economist published an article, which was unexpectedly titled: “150 years after Commodore Perry, Japanese spirit, Western things”. In the past, the famous American Japanologist Edwin O. Reischauer analysed Japan’s tendency to simultaneously learn from diverse sources yet stubbornly preserve the characteristics of its local culture through many perspectives. He even candidly criticised the Japanese for periodically swaying between an inferiority complex and a superiority complex, and for remaining isolated from the world and unwilling to play an active role in international affairs despite being lauded internationally in the economic and scientific domains. Because Professor Reischauer was born in Japan and married a Japanese wife, regardless of his position as a Harvard professor or the American Ambassador to Japan, he always displayed a passionate fondness for Japan. Perhaps his criticism is one that the Japanese may be willing to accept.

Of course, the Japanese always accept anything only after a thorough and considered process of filtration. Perhaps this is the true reason why Japan is the way it is.

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A digest of online China – January 01 – January 12Marco Polo Project blogreply
January 12, 2015 at 8:18 am

[…] How great is Tokyo – He Weifang […]

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August 3, 2018 at 4:56 am

Original translation by Ting Weitai

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