Photographs from a small group of islands
Oct 09 2014 10 Comments
10/9/2014 at 1:11 pm
It looks out of business. Did you get a chance to step inside?
10/9/2014 at 5:51 pm
Nah, all locked up.
But yeah, definitely out of business. Looked like it has been that way for quite some time too. For a city with land prices as high as Tokyo, it’s amazing how many places there are like this — both old businesses and homes. There are clearly a lot of factors, such as tax, building regulations etc, but it’s still surprising to see so many.
10/10/2014 at 2:01 am
There was some back and forth on this in the Japan Times a couple weeks back. Japan is in serious need of a law that promotes the clearing of derelict structures. If they had the sense and the honesty, the Diet would tack a fee on all development that helped fund this and I think that anything abandoned for five or more years simply becomes state property.
With the population slated to begin declining in the next five to ten years, the suburbs, if this is managed properly, might actually become a great place to live. Now, most are really ugly compared to many urban neighborhoods. This is completely a Japan as romanticized by a gaijin, but the vernacular architecture of Japan (I’ll draw the line as up through the Meiji-jidai) is wonderful. Much of the contemporary urban architecture is phenomenal (though someone really needs to serve time for the Golden Unchi Building), but most houses and most small commercial buildings built in the last 20-30 years are hideous. Anyway . . .
10/10/2014 at 9:40 am
Yes, I totally agree. They generally aren’t attractive places to walk around at all, and that’s being kind.
Certainly something needs to be done. It’s absurd to have so many rotting buildings all over the city. But building regulations (can’t find the article, but it’s relation to building access, a law that wasn’t in place when many older structures where built) and inheritance tax certainly seem to be huge factors in many buildings being left to slowly crumble. A pro-active move by the government is definitely in order, but how long will we have to wait for something like that…?
10/12/2014 at 10:59 pm
With Japan on the cusp of making preparations for the 2020 Olympics it would seem timely to start pulling down some of these unsightly buildings – and it might just happen. The Japan Times had an excellent article today with the author reminiscing about the build up to the last Olympics where he described much of the city’s infrastructure at the time being positively medieval. So with a bit of luck this will provide the necessary momentum to start the demolitions.
10/13/2014 at 11:48 am
That’s a good point. Tokyo will definitely change in the build-up to the games. My fear, however, is that the zeal for modernisation will be used to destroy some of the cities older, and character-filled spots. Golden Gai is apparently in their sights, and Kabuki-cho looks set for another clean-up too. Areas admittedly not to everyone’s liking, but they are unique. Attract a lot of tourists too.
As for the suburbs, I’m not sure they will be affected at all. They’ll neither be seen nor visited during the Olympics. But local authorities will surely have to start to do something with these places, or at the very least offer incentives to those who will.
10/14/2014 at 3:14 am
The thing is, most of the unsightly and/or derelict structures are in the suburbs and ex-urbs. Tokyo has rebuilt itself, by my estimation, four times since the previous century – early 1920s after the Kanto earthquake, the late 1940s after WWII, to some extent before the 1964 Olympics and a great deal during the 1980s to early 1990s during the Bubble. More sophisticated travellers won’t be bothered by Golden Gai or Kabukicho, if they even encounter them.
The problem will be, as has been the case often in the past, to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is just no excuse for this, and you’re likely to see more prior to 2020.
10/14/2014 at 10:00 am
Yeah, all too often there is scant regard for culturally or architecturally significant buildings. The quest for modernisation will be halted by nothing.
I’ve heard it suggested that the practice of periodically rebuilding the likes of temples and shrines makes Japan less sentimental when it comes to ripping down old structures and building new ones. But that doesn’t really make sense to me, as it’s going to be rebuilt. And I n the same form. Significant buildings or areas in the city, on the other hand, aren’t rebuilt, they are simply replaced. Completely different.
Yet whatever the reasoning, like you say, more of it will be seen in the run up to 2020. Potentially a lot more…
10/13/2014 at 1:08 am
This looks like a prime candidate for some sweet sweet haikyo if there is an easy entrance. I always like to find out what gets left behind when these places go out of business.
10/13/2014 at 11:50 am
Like most of the ones in the suburbs, this was sealed. So sadly we’ll never know if there’s anything worth looking at inside or not…
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