Friday, December 16, 2016


My daughter lives in a section of Tokyo that is a mix of old and new housing. I love to take photos in her neighborhood as I never know what styles of houses are around the next corner.  The physical area isn't very big and living quarters are close together both sideways and upwards.  However there are still older traditional Japanese homes that have yards with greenery. Usually lived in by older people. However since I first visited eight years ago the number has decreased. I was told that inheritance taxes are very very high so these homes are sold to developers who subdivide the properties.

A few years ago I attended a lecture on Architecture Behaviorology given by the Japanese architect, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder of Atelier Bow-Wow. One topic he discussed was the evolution of homes in Tokyo from the 1920's to the present day. First generation home owners didn't own cars so their detached traditional Japanese style homes had yards with greenery. By the third generation developers had entered the picture. The gardens had disappeared and the shapes of the properties had changed. On my recent visit I thought about Tsukamoto's lecture as I walked around my daughter's neighborhood.

The above photo is of third generation homes. The three story houses are build on long narrow plots, very close together. Notice the garages on ground level which aren't deep enough for the cars to fit in all the way.  Tsukamoto used phrases like "losing the generosity of house",  "disappointing house" to describe these single family homes which I felt given the high cost of land, etc in Tokyo wasn't quite fair. Many had pots of plants and flowers decorating the fronts of the homes. On my first few visits there was what I considered a not too large vacant lot where these houses are now.

                                        An older concrete home of a very elderly woman.   

                                          An older home surrounded by lots of greenery.                                

                                         Apartments across the street from an older home.

                                                A second hand bookstore on a side street.

   A first generation home still with some greenery in their yard.  Notice the apartments
   very close on all sides. Interesting too that some of these older homes survived the bombings
   during World War II.

                  A high rise apartment building overlooks a newer traditional Japanese style house.

    The concrete in front of this corner house always has lots of plants. Every fall I visit one or
    sometimes two eggplants are still on the vine. I always stop and take a few photos. The next
    day when I walk by the eggplants are gone. I wonder if the older man who lives here sees a
    foreigner taking photos of his last eggplants and thinks, "I'd better pick them before she 
    comes back!".

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