Sunday, June 12, 2011

St Mary Singapore & St Mary Tokyo

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, there are times when your mind drifts instead of being focused on the event that's actually taking place at the moment.

It happened to me this morning while I was attending Mass at St Mary.
I put it down to certain factors for this happening.  

One was that the air conditioning wasn't working properly while the humidity was increasing with almost a thousand faithful in the congregation. 
The other was the less than inspired delivery of the homily by the priest. 
(mea culpa, no offense meant)

While Franciscan Friar Joe spoke of how the early apostles were inspired during Pentecost, my mind drifted towards the ceiling of the church. There the architect had designed a skylight in the form of a crucifix which lets sunlight into the church.

Skylight at St Mary of the Angels, Singapore

While looking at it, I was reminded of another church which has a similar concept. 
St Mary Cathedral in Tokyo is located at Ikebukuro, within walking distance from  the Sunshine City Prince Hotel where I usually stay during my visits to Tokyo.

Designed by the great Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, St Mary Cathedral is a beautiful edifice in a cruciform design whose walls soar up to a skylight that lets in natural light to illuminate the interior. 

When you enter the cathedral, your eyes are magnetised and drawn to look automatically from the stained glass panels behind the altar towards the skylight at the ceiling.
It never fails to happen with anyone when they first enter the building.
I am sure that this was purposely done by the architect for dramatic effect.

St Mary Cathedral, Ikebukuro, Tokyo

From idle musings about St Mary Cathedral, my mind further drifted to think of some other buildings that I remembered seeing in Tokyo that were all designed by Kenzo Tange.

These are all famous icons not only of Tokyo but of  Japan. 
Some of the great buildings designed by Kenzo Tange are:-

Fuji TV Building at Odaiba, Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo Olympic Stadium and Gymnasium at Yoyogi Park

The Cocoon Building at Shinjuku

Kenzo Tange also designed the UOB Bank building in Singapore.
Who's that statue at the front? Never mind him, he's just a white man.

Isn't it strange that how in just a minute or two, your mind can stray from the missal to illuminated crosses to cathedrals in Tokyo to Olympic buildings and banks and then back again?

What? Oh, "Let us pray"?

By the way, it might interest you to know that Kenzo Tange died in 2005 and is buried at St Mary Cathedral. It's really worth your while to see this place if you are ever in Tokyo. Better than the usual tourist traps and it's free.

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