Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Tetrapod Nation

Along 50% of Japan's 35,000 km coastline tetrapods have been placed to hold back erosion, like concrete-assed, break-dancing King Canutes. The tetrapods are piled high to take the force of the sea and save the coast. But what are they saving it for? There are virtually no beaches left in Japan because of all the tetrapods. And the island did just fine before the invention of concrete, so what's changed that makes it necessary to put these things everywhere?

Flow #2 by Saksak

The cynical and suspicious answer to those questions lies in government building contracts and the fact that there's virtually nowhere left to build on, so work is being created in order to keep the construction industry alive. And it's been alleged that tetrapods actually increase coast erosion, although the people doing the alleging conveniently forget to back up their claim with actual facts.

River by Kodama

Even though the logic behind the tetrapod invasion is flawed, I still think the tetrapods are kind of awesome. Although they clearly shouldn't be used to concrete over the beaches there's something really quite beautiful about them.

Tetrapods in the Mist by Montgomery

If you're a really big tetrapod fan and you've somehow managed to acquire money to spend on tetrapod paraphernalia, there are these kickass tetrapod cushions available (from somewhere I haven't done nearly enough research to find).

Photos from Ken Ohyama

And there are also tetrapod rubbers (or "erasers" for the American-English inclined) made by Sun-Star Stationery Co. You can buy them for 120 yen each, in nine different erosion-prohibiting/advancing colours! (Or "colors". Seriously, you people.)

And to keep this blog's loading time down, like I care, here are links to tetrapods as captured by five more talented photographers.

Toru Aihara
F l u x
Joshua Richley


Christina Martin said...

Yeah, they are strangely alluring!
I like the picture of them in the mist.
They make cool cushions...