Tokyo’s architectural contrasts

Tokyo isn’t exactly the prettiest city in the world, and part of that is due to its complete mishmash of architecture. The traditional and modern. Beautiful and carbuncle. All haphazardly mixed throughout the capital.

Like these hugely contrasting homes for example. A character-filled but unappealing old place, and its infinitely more comfortable, but entirely characterless, modern cousins.



  1. hazel says

    It’s views like this that make me love Tokyo. Much more interesting than endless glass buildings!
    I’ll bet they are all built inches from each other too?

    • says

      They were. In fact, if you look closely, you can see just how close the building on the right is. Not much light is going to get in there…

  2. sullivan says

    its very normal in asia’s cities, most of them still have old houses that are built many years ago

  3. Iwao Yamamoto says

    Exactly the same opinion as for the sight of Tokyo blended with the old and the new. But for the one living in downtown Tokyo; so called Shitsmachi the old house among tall buildings makes sentimental indeed. The feeling perceived only the people in Tokyo as I. But I am always moved by your pictures and the comments for them. Nice pictures perhaps not taken by ordinary people but wonderful.

    • says

      Thank you.

      A few of my favourite shitamachi areas are seeing a fair bit of redevelopment, so these scenes will probably become even more common.

    • Derg says

      It’s shitamachi. And Japanese dont use windows to look out of… They use them for ventilation.

      • says

        And for sunlight, surely.

        Actually though this wasn’t shitmachi. Just a sole house amidst a load of apartment/office buildings.

  4. willy says

    Evidently some of the old, more treasured buildings in Japan are suffering due to the stifled sunlight in such situations…

    • says

      Definitely. This place must have been cold before, but with very little sunlight, it must be absolutely baltic now.

  5. Squidpuppy says

    Imagine what the neighborhood was like when the house was built… Reminds me of a childhood book where a house is hemmed in by metropolitan construction, and it becomes very sad. However, I don’t think this house will have as happy an ending – moving out to the country side.

    It must be quite dreary living in a shadow and sound sink, city noise amplified by the hard surfaces and no direct sunlight. Perfect place for a hikkikomori though, I’d think. House look asleep – dreaming of sunnier days.

    • says

      Hadn’t thought about the sound as well. Not good all round. And no, hard to imagine a happy ending. Presumably an old person that lives there and quite understandably didn’t want to move. The developers will have to wait til they die before they get their hands on more land.

  6. Jeffrey says

    It is blocks like this that pushed me towards studying Japanese housing in grad school (almost as useful as my BA in English). The amount of wasted “air space” in Japanese cities is appalling. Rarely is there anything charming about these cut-up blocks holding four or five buildings where there should be maybe two. It’s like eminent domain doesn’t exist.

    • says

      That’s interesting. Had never really thought about that, but yeah, they are neither practical or appealing.

      Issues primarily in relation to land ownership or building regulations?

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