A Tokyo property built round a really big and ugly pipe

Land is not only expensive in Tokyo, but also scarce, so invariably every single plot is used as much as is humanly possible. And that also means used no matter how solid said land is, or even what architectural problems it may present.

unusual Tokyo house


    • says

      I don’t know. That was my initial thought, but I guess there are many other possibilities. Certainly not for drinking water though.

    • says

      It certainly shows ingenuity. Just thinking about building something there would seem bold, but to actually go ahead and do it deserves at least some sort of respect.

  1. Matt says

    Interesting shot. Two things intrigue me, what does the pipe carry and where does it go on the other side of the building.

    • says

      Unfortunately I can’t answer either of them. From the bridge I couldn’t see what happened to the pipe, and what it contains is anybody’s guess.

  2. foop says

    Great photo, and a really interesting subject.

    Back here in the UK, buying our house we had enough trouble over the legal situation regarding access rights and a narrow path behind our house. I hate to imagine how complicated it would have been if we had a great big pipe going through it. I know there are standard ways of dealing with easements for, for example, sewage pipes under a property but the thought having some company’s pipe going through your house makes me boggle.

    I know the Japanese aren’t as litigious as Brits and Americans, but does this reduced recourse to law also make it easier to do crazy things like this? Or would getting permission to do this sort of thing be just as hard?

    • says

      I honestly have no idea, foop. I’ve seen countless tiny or peculiar shaped plots of land filled with equally tiny and peculiarly shaped homes, but never anything like this.

      Buildings here aren’t as permanent as they are in Britain, so it’s fairly likely that the pipe will outlast the property, but like you say, the idea of having a company’s pipe running through the middle of a home really does make the mind boggle…

    • says

      I was just out for a walk with my camera without any set agenda, but if I remember correctly, it wasn’t too far from Shinagawa station.

    • foop says

      Every now and then I get internet-induced awe. My son wouldn’t find this amazing at all, but as a 40 year old I remember when you just couldn’t do this sort of thing.

      Anyway, the point: I think I’ve found where it is. This should be a link to a Google Streetview shot of the roof of the house. If you switch to satellite view it’s easier to see the pipe going into the house.


      • says

        Yeah, that’s the spot.

        Yeah, you couldn’t do this sort of thing. And you still shouldn’t be able to!

  3. winnie says

    I did not see these even though I lived one stop away from Shinagawa station.

    The house must be very humid , damp. I wondered how do they cope in rainy days. And the pipe will have various sound effects!

    • says

      I know, not an ideal place to live by any stretch of the imagination. And yeah, a pipe that size could well make a fair bit of noise…

  4. Grass Jelly says

    Everyone who visits this blog obviously holds a love or interest with Japan. I am glad you chose to show both the good and the bad.

    Your candid view of Japan is rare and it is what keeps drawing me back. Thanks for all the excellent work.

    • says

      Thanks a lot for the kind words. Much appreciated.

      Having lived here for a good while now, I’m well aware of the positives and negatives, so I do try to give an honest view of Japan. Or at least an honest view of how I see Japan. It’s not always easy getting the balance right though…

  5. D says

    If you look at the street view on Google maps you can see it is also a business. The red awning reads SNACK

    • says

      Yeah, I saw that. Not sure if it’s still in business or not, but somebody at least seems to be staying there with the futon hanging out of the window.

    • says

      In Osaka, it almost seems like there actually are building codes. Only ones that insist buildings are built around highways!

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