The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Upwardly Mobile

The top photo is a detail image of the new climbing wall in Miyashita Park in Shibuya.

There was a long struggle to keep the redevelopment of this park away from Nike branding. Nike bought the naming rights but as the park is public property there was a back-lash against the the company appearing to “own” such tax-funded facilities. Protests outside Nike’s flagship store in nearby Harajuku and an occupation by self-styled artists in residence (bottom two images) drew attention to the situation but ultimately failed to stop the redevelopment going ahead when protestors were forcibly removed and the park sealed on September 15th 2010.

Truth be told the park badly needed some investment and redevelopment. It was not a nice place for the families and children it was originally designed for. Dark and dirty it had been more or less abandoned to the eighty or so homeless people that had set up camp there.

Their eviction, in the name of corporate intrusion into public places, was cold and heartless, though the ward office did say it would help them find other accommodation most seem to have moved to the road below the park where their shelters provide a backdrop to an almost forgotten street of parking meters (second photo). Yet the beautification of the park also happened at a time when protest movements against big business were gaining ground and broad public support. While the protest mounted for this particular issue may not have actually won over the local population, who mostly supported the reclaiming of the park by any means, the unequal battle of ordinary people against large corporations did resonate. We now have Occupy Wall Street and a myriad other cities, corporate greed is despised and some more sensible companies are taking note.  That is probably why we now appear to have a park that is still called Miyashita Park but has also been made an exciting and useful place for the local community again with investment from Nike.

I can’t see their name overtly written anywhere on the park signs. Perhaps they feel they didn’t need to, the brands connection to the park was established during the protests, the redevelopment speaks for itself and if they give up the right to name the park people will see altruism even if it is just a chimera.

Seems like a win win situation for everyone.

makes me want to go rock climbing again not done that in ages.




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