Tokyo looks to brighten up ahead of 2020 Games

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunEfforts to illuminate Tokyo at night are getting fully under way this fiscal year, in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The initiative is aimed at promoting night tourism among foreign visitors. The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to start illuminating about 30 more public facilities in cooperation with the central government and other entities. It plans to standardize the illuminations and take steps against “light pollution.”

Double the current level

According to a survey by the Development Bank of Japan and other entities, many visiting foreign travelers have great things to say about the traditional and pop culture of Japan, as well as its food, but give lower marks for Japan’s nightlife.

To improve the appeal of “Tokyo’s nights,” the metropolitan government in March selected three areas with a high concentration of tourist spots and venues for the Tokyo Games as main areas to be illuminated.

The areas are the vicinity of Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace; the Sumidagawa river and oceanfront area; and the vicinity of Akasaka and Gaien.

Illumination will start in sequence at about 30 facilities administered mainly by the metropolitan and central governments, including Hinode Pier and a street with a line of ginkgo trees in the Jingu-Gaien district, both in Minato Ward. Also to be illuminated is the Imperial Palace Plaza in Chiyoda Ward.

There are currently 28 major locations for illumination in the three areas. This figure is expected to more than double by fiscal 2020.

In its landscape plan to be revised this summer, the metropolitan government intends to include such night landscape plans for the first time and push for illuminating residential areas as well as tourist spots, depending on the location.

Colors, brightness to be coordinated

The metropolitan government intends to use as a reference an initiative in the Marunouchi district in central Tokyo, where buildings are illuminated with consideration for their harmony with the entire townscape.

In 2009, the Council for Area Development and Management of Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakucho, which has worked on the redevelopment of these areas, jointly drew up a guide concerning the lighting with the metropolitan and Chiyoda Ward governments and East Japan Railway Co.

The guide sets standards for colors and brightness, and calls for the upper parts of buildings in the Marunouchi district in front of Tokyo Station to be illuminated in warm colors, in harmony with the lighting of the station building. Other calls include whitish lighting for buildings in the neighboring Otemachi and Yurakucho districts.

When excessively bright lighting was installed at a new building, the council asked the building’s operator for its cooperation and resolved the matter.

Atsuhiko Kinjo, 56, the council’s secretary general, said proudly, “We’ve often heard that the atmosphere of the whole town has been improved with modest lighting.”

Appropriate brightness sought

Excessive lighting could have a negative impact on animals and plants, such as hampering the growth of rice plants, and cause “light pollution,” which makes stars less visible.

In light of this, the metropolitan government intends to include in its landscape plan a call for companies that are proceeding with illumination projects to adopt an appropriate brightness for the lights to prevent light pollution.

Apart from lit-up facilities, it also plans to specify a call for keeping lighting at a minimum in places with abundant nature, including Okutama and the Izu Islands, to allow people to enjoy the stars.

“I hope more measures will be taken to make people aware that lighting can cause harm,” said Nobuaki Ochi, an associate professor of Toyo University who serves as the head of the Tokyo Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association tackling light pollution.Speech

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