Saturday, August 22, 2009

Old shanty houses round Okusawa

As a city, Tokyo isn't really known for its affection for old buildings.

Aside from the fact the historical structures in this metropolis were either (a) destroyed in the big 'quake of 1923 or (b) carpet bombed by the U.S. Army Air Forces in WW2, and the fact that there's an ongoing risk from further earthquakes, the residents themselves (generally) seem to see buildings 25 years or older as eyesores - in the way of modernization or funky new apartment blocks.

So, aside from areas where you can find lots of history, like in Yanesen, near Nippori, it sometimes feels that Melbourne, a 162-year-old city, has more preserved "real" history than Tokyo, a city that's in its 406th year as a capital - but was a village before that.

In Okusawa (in Setagaya-Ku), a fairly expensive residential area, there are some absolute gems of weatherboard houses tucked away around corners and down moldy alleys. For me, this reminds me that I'm in Japan, and not just another western city with McDonald's and 7-Eleven stores.

One of my faves was demolished a couple of years ago, however, and made into... a car park. The fate of the rest also doesn't look too promising; my theory is that once the elderly residents die out, their abodes will be razed and made into apartments.

Yesterday and today I set out to take some happy snaps for posterity, and here are just a few of these wunderbar places that give the local area... character.

Truth to tell, tho', I wouldn't choose to live in any of them in this 'quake-prone country and given the absolutely oppressive humidity in summer. Looking is another matter.

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