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Stroll around the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building on the Southeastern Edge of the Komaba Campus

Find Roses, Plums, a Camphor, Ponds, a Pseudosphere and a Teahouse




Takashi Tsuboi
Professor
Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences
http://faculty.ms.u-tokyo.ac.jp/users/tsuboi/index.html

Readers of this page may visit the Komaba I Campus, home to the College of Arts and Sciences, from time to time. Though the wood of the Campus' Main Gate (Picture 1) was replaced just a few years ago, it already exudes a majestic and stately atmosphere. Placed on one of the gateposts is the nameplate of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences. The Graduate School was established 24 years ago and moved to the south of Yanaihara Park within the Komaba Campus 21 years ago.

To go to Yanaihara Park, which is located in the eastern part of the Komaba I Campus, I recommend not to enter the Main Gate but to turn to the right and to take the Komaba Rose Path (Picture 2) to the north of the volleyball courts. The Rose Path has been maintained on a voluntary basis since 2007 by rose aficionados living in Meguro when they took part in The Promenade of Knowledge, a project set forth by the University. Rows of well-kept roses offer a relaxing respite from season to season.

Continuing along the Rose Path while admiring the roses to our left, we will soon arrive at the plum tree garden. The plum trees blossom splendidly in early March. One of the trees looks as if it has both red and white flowers (Picture 3). It was damaged by snow two years ago, but I believe that it will recover. The tree in Picture 4 is a camphor that has watched over the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences for 21 years, and the building to its right is the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Library.
  • 1. The Main Gate of the Komaba I Campus, right in front of Komaba Todai-mae Station (KT)

  • 2. The Komaba Rose Path (IS)

  • 3. Red and white flowers bloom from the "same" plum tree (KT)

Even if we enter the Komaba Campus from the Main Gate (Picture 1), it's easy to find our way to Yanaihara Park. Let's turn right and walk across the wooden deck to the south of the Komaba Museum (Picture 6). On the way, we can see a water lily pond (Picture 5) reflecting the pattern of the walls of the Administration Building, which was once the Komaba Library. To the east of the deck stands the First-Year Activity Center, and Yanaihara Park is right in the vicinity.
  • 4. A camphor planted in 1995 (KH)

  • 5. Water lilies planted in the pond to the south of the Komaba Museum (KM)

  • 6. The Komaba Museum, a museum of visual arts and natural sciences (KT)

Until 22 years ago, the area where Yanaihara Park is now located was a copse of trees. The area surrounding the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building was once home to tennis courts and apartments for government workers. The professors of the Department of Mathematics, one of the predecessors of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, occupied the building that had been the South Annex of the Komaba Dormitory, which was called the First Laboratory. This building has now been replaced with the Komaba Communications Plaza (Italian Tomato Café Jr., a popular restaurant chain, is a tenant) and the Komaba Library. From the Komaba Dormitory, an unpaved path stretches southward to where the Yanaihara Gate once stood. The gate was named after Professor Tadao Yanaihara, a former president of the University of Tokyo. Some readers may remember passing through the Yanaihara Gate to visit Yamaguchi-ya, a soba restaurant, or mahjong parlors across the tracks of the Inokashira Line. A stone marker (Picture 7) sits near the former location of the Yanaihara Gate. To the north of this stone marker stands the Niihari Monument that commemorates the former First Higher School (referred to as Ichiko, the predecessor of the College of Arts and Sciences). Meetings are regularly held around the monument to sing Niihari no Oka no Ue (On Top of Our New Hill), the dormitory (Komaba Dormitory) song of the First Higher School.

Garden paths and benches can be found in what is now Yanaihara Park, making it a relaxing and comfortable space that provides wonderful leafy shade. Set up in the center of the park is a round path (Picture 8) where an oak tree planted by the president of Ireland in 2005 grows alongside a white signpost commemorating the event. From the round path, we can get a glimpse of the lobby of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, where the work of Japanese calligraphy titled 無限 (mugen; infinity) is displayed (Picture 9). The space to the right of the calligraphy is occupied by the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Library, one of world's largest mathematics libraries. In the entrance of the library stands the statue of Professor Teiji Takagi.
  • 7. The stone marker of the Yanaihara Gate, with the Niihari Monument located to its north (KH)

  • 8. The central area of Yanaihara Park (KH)

  • 9. Japanese calligraphy titled 無限 (mugen; infinity) displayed in the right corner of the main entrance of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building (KH)

Let's enter the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building from the main entrance, turn left and walk down a corridor flanked by classrooms until we reach the foyer of the Lecture Hall. Displayed in the foyer is a precise model of an aluminum psuedosphere (Picture 10), whose surface has a constant negative curvature, and the artwork titled Five Red Spheres by Shigeko Hirakawa, a leading artist in the modern art world who is based in France. Let's go back to the main entrance and look at the courtyard, where we can see artist Aiko Miyawaki's artwork titled Utsurohi ("transience"; Picture 11). The same artwork, which is characterized by flexible metal wires, is also installed in La Grande Arche in Paris; Camp Nou in Barcelona; the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan; and the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art, Okayama, Japan. Isn't it fantastic to imagine these masses of metal wires wavering in the wind and the light at the same time in different places around the world?

Let's continue eastward in Yanaihara Park, and we will soon approach the Math Sci Annex, a prefabricated structure (Picture 12). It looks like a research institute in the woods but it is actually the headquarters of the Interdisciplinary Center for Mathematical Sciences, where research is carried out to strengthen the interaction between mathematics and society.
  • 10. The foyer of the Lecture Hall in the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building (KH)

  • 11. The artwork titled Usturohi in the courtyard of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building (KH)

  • 12. The Math Sci Annex looks like an institute in the woods (KH)

The garden paths do not reach the easternmost part of Yanaihara Park, so we have to backtrack a little and make a detour to the south or to the north. Let's head past the east end of the park, and we will arrive at the Hakuinsha Pavilion (Picture 13), a traditional Japanese house that was reconstructed with wood from the University of Tokyo Forests, which are managed by the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is now used as a facility for students who practice tea ceremony. It's rather luxurious, don't you think? The Hakuinsha Pavilion faces Ichiniro Pond. Although it is far less famous than the Sanshiro Pond on the Hongo Campus, Ichiniro Pond has been beautifully renovated and may join the ranks of its more well-known counterpart in the future. A path has been constructed that leads towards the pond's headwaters on the north side (Picture 14).

The area to the west of Ichiniro Pond where the Komaba Dormitory once existed is now the location of the Komaba Communications Plaza. The story about the remains of the Komaba Dormitory was introduced on the back cover of the September 2014 edition of Tansei. Many alumni probably remember the cafeteria of the Komaba Dormitory. The gate from which students used to go to Shibuya from the Komaba Dormitory or its cafeteria was called the Suiji-mon (literally "Cooking") Gate. The current Suiji Gate can accommodate the passing of large vehicles, but usually is open only to pedestrians. Picture 15 is the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building at dusk as seen from the Suiji Gate.
  • 13. The Hakuinsha Pavilion to the east of Yanaihara Park (KH)

  • 14. Ichiniro Pond which was renovated in 2009 (KH)

  • 15. The Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Building at dusk as seen from the Suiji Gate (KH)

* Photo credits: IS (Shihoko Ishii), KM (Masahiko Kanai),  KH (Hiroaki Kono), KT (Toshitake Kohno)

** This article was originally printed in Tansei 32 (Japanese language only).

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