Perfume Story: April 2012 Archives

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An atmosphere of "Edo"

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An atmosphere of "Edo*"
The relationship between Tokyo SkyTree and purple lighting

("Edo*" means both Edo-period and the former name of Tokyo)

Note: The Edo* Period refers to the approximately 260 years of 1603 - 1867.

Tokyo SkyTree Tower
Tokyo SkyTree Tower

Tokyo SkyTree

This huge tower which will become a new landmark of Tokyo when it opens on May 22, 2012, reaches 634m into the sky and will become the world's number one radio tower. It has been estimated that the Great East Japan Earthquake which struck last year in March caused the tower to sway by 4-6m at its then highest point of 623m. However there was absolutely no damage to the tower. This is because Tokyo Sky Tree has adopted a technology called "central pillar damping." This is where a round pillar is built in the central part of a structure with a hint of a tower of a five-storied pagoda, which is traditional Japanese architecture resistant to earthquakes.

The lighting of Edo purple
The lighting of
Edo purple "elegance"

"MIYABI(elegance)" & "IKI(stylishness)"
: Lighting with the theme colors and environmental protective measures

The Sky Tree, which stands towering over downtown Tokyo, will be illuminated at night and so its figure will clearly reveal itself even against the night sky. Tokyo Sky Tree will have two different lighting patterns,
: "MIYABI : the elegant aesthetic sense" and "IKI : the stylishness of spirit" nurtured in Edo. These will give enjoyment by illuminating the sky on alternate days. The color of "MIYABI (elegance)" has been likened to a garment of the precise structure of the Sky Tree (the angular accuracy of up to two decimal places is a design similar to that of precision equipment) and aims to be the refined and graceful standing figure of a woman wearing Edo purple Japanese clothes. The color of "IKI (stylishness)" is lighting that illuminates the central pillar of the tower with pale blue light that takes the motif of the water of Sumida River. The appearance which gives off the traditional beauty of Edo purple in ancient Japan and beautiful natural light blue is a moment that is magnificently fused with the night sky of Tokyo (Edo). Furthermore, there is a plan in which approximately 1995 illuminations (LED; light-emitting diodes) will be used at the time of completion. It is the first time in the world that all the illuminations will have LED specifications. This is consistent with the objective of the Sky Tree to tackle environmental measures here. In these world top-level environmental protective measures, 7,000-ton water tanks for heating and cooling (equivalent to 17 times of a 25m poolful of water) will use nighttime electricity. These will keep the water at a cool 5°C in summer and 48°C in winter, and will then be used in heating and cooling. There is also a plan for zonal heating and cooling to be used by facilities that take advantage of geothermal heat and rainwater storage tanks. * "Edo" means both Edo-period and the former name of Tokyo

The color of Purple : Edo(The former name of Tokyo) and the world

Since ancient times, in the West and in the East, purple has been a high class color, and Tyrian purple commanded the highest of prices among ancient dyes. This is because the fascination of the color of purple mesmerized people. (Tyrian purple is a purple which dyes with the mucus secreted by the venus comb murex. This purple is called "royal purple" and is said in the expression "born in purple" to define those born into royalty, as well as noble and wealthy families.) To Japanese people, purple has been used in various settings as a color familiar to people since long ago before the Heian-Period (794 ? 1185). In 603, Prince Shotoku established the first system to rank officials into 12 levels by their headgear colors and chose purple to represent the highest level. In an age when purple was used for the clothes of the Emperor of Japan, it was also forbidden for others to use this color. Even in modern times, purple is widely used; from culture and sports (for example in kabuki (Japanese classical drama) and professional sumo wrestling) to image colors of companies. Even today, in professional sumo wrestling, only those who have become at least an ozeki (a sumo-wrestler of the second highest rank) can use a purple kesho-mawashi (an elaborately embroidered sumo apron). In Japan, to give a kesho-mawashi its purple color, the roots of purple gromwell are used. Purple gromwell was cultivated and its purple color prized all over Japan from the Heian-Period to the end of the Edo-Period.

kesho-mawashi . . . . . kesho-mawashi
kesho-mawashi (an elaborately embroidered sumo apron)

Sei Shonagon, a famous poet of the Heian Period, exquisitely noted that "All and everything that becomes purple is auspicious. Flowers, thread and paper as well."

The major reason purple dyes were treated with such importance was their rarity. The cultivation of purple gromwell was extremely difficult. Purple from the place where dyeing started in Edo as dyes of the root of purple gromwell that grew in Musashino (the western part of the Tokyo district) became established as the leading dye color of Edo. Nowadays, purple gromwell has been designated as an endangered species and it is no exaggeration to say that it is a color of dreams. However, in the Tokyo region, the "Purple Gromwell Revival Project" has been launched and in an attempt to bring back purple gromwell, efforts are being made in research on cultivation and the color purple. Tokyo (Edo) and the color purple have a connection that cannot be broken.

Current examples of use of Edo purple

It is possible to see Edo purple in a variety of places; from the traditional craftwork of Edo Kiriko (a type of faceted glass) to the body of the carriages on the subway (Tokyo Metro) Hanzomon line and also as one of the colors of the logo of Tokyo's Olympic bid.

Edo purple Kiriko glassA handkerchief dyed with purple gromwell rootSubway
Edo purple Kiriko glass (Made by Tajima Glass Co., Ltd.)A handkerchief dyed with purple gromwell rootSubway "Hanzomon-Line"

※ Radio tower in the world

Canton Tower (Guangzhou, China) 610m
CN Tower
(Toronto, Canada) 553m
Oriental Pearl Tower (Shanghai, China) 468m
Eiffel Tower (Paris, France) 324m

※ References
  1. The Yomiuri Shimbun 'Sky Tree: World Class Energy Conservation' (October 17, 2011)
  2. Wikipedia 'Tokyo SkyTree,' 'Venus Comb Murex,' 'Tyrian Purple'
  3. Sachio Yoshioka 'Color Dictionary of Japan' Shikosha Publishing (2000)
  4. Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson (original authors) and Tsutomu Kobayashi (Japanese translation) 'Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History' Chuokoron-Shinsha (2000)
  5. KENSAKU Jp Seesaa

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