Saying Goodbye to Two Tsukuba Icons Early This Year – the VLBI Antenna and Seibu Department Store
By Avi Landau
Long term residents of Tsukuba have gotten used to saying good-bye. Those of us who are sentimental, have had to harden our hearts – or we just wouldn`t be able to keep our emotional sanity. What I`m talking about mostly is the fact that are friend are always leaving ! Amazing, talented people, from every corner of the globe, come here on short-term research or study projects…. you become friends… get close…. and then they`re gone. Sure there is email – but it`s just not the same…
Then there are your favorite shops and restaurants that have to close down and go out of business because of all these years of sluggish economy – and all the new shopping malls (four in little Tsukuba City alone).
Another loss some of us old-timers have been pained by is that of the very landscape itself ! When we first came to Tsukuba, we fell in love with its still extensive forests – in which you could hike for hours – and its abundant flora and fauna, which thrilled us with every encounter.
That`s pretty much all gone now. Replaced by parking lots, convenience stores…and plenty of chintzy looking (yet very expensive) housing developments.
At the beginning of 2017 we find ourselves saying good-bye to the familiar yet again !
The big antenna dish that stood not far from Tsukuba University`s Foreign Student Center is currently being dismantled. For nearly twenty years it help us keep our bearing as we cycled about the maze-like old Tsukuba neighborhhoods. When you got lost you looked for its immense parabolic dish and you`d know which way you`d have to go (and each time you did spot it, its dish would be facing a different direction – which was also fun in its own way.
The dish was also a great conversation piece. When you passed it with someone new to Tsukuba they would inevitably ask – What is that for? Studying quasars? Gathering Satellite data? Searching for alien life?
I always sensed that the amswer. the antenna`s true purpose, came as let-down to whomever I explained it to.
The antenna was for measuring the minute movements of the Earth`s plates – and for carrying out detailed geographical surveys. With that, I almost felt a if I had to say I was sorry.
Anyway, I will be asked the question no more! At the end of last year, the antenna went out of operation. Now it`s in the process of being dismantled. Native Tsukubans and long-term residents alike gasp in dismay when they see what`s happening to it.
Apparently, they will be carrying out the same sort of measurements from Ishioka City – on the other side of Mt. Tsukuba.
If you`d like to say good-bye to the old familiar dish, you`d better go soon!
As of today (January 19th), it`s nothing but a stump !
Oh, the fleeting nature of this world……