Ramshackle structures are incredibly common in Japan. Not just in rural areas either, as away from its main entertainment and shopping hubs, Tokyo has more than its fair share of them. There are countless homes, shops and restaurants that despite their utterly dilapidated states, are more often than not still in use. And yet despite seeing so many that I have an Instagram account almost entirely devoted to them, this particular house is like nothing else.
It’s still lived in for starters. The one remaining, relatively intact upstairs room provides a home of sorts, although how cold it is in winter doesn’t bear thinking about. Neither, to be honest, do the bathroom facilities, or indeed the probable lack of them. But somehow it must be manageable. A bit like camping perhaps, but in an ancient tent on a bit of waste ground.
Unsurprisingly there are all kinds of rumours about the owner. The one bona fide fact is that it’s a fella who is getting on a bit. But those limited details aside, the general consensus seems to be that he lost a lot of money when Japan’s economic bubble burst, or on the stock market, the two of which could obviously be connected.
It also appears he may have moved to, or possibly back to the area from Kyoto, with the relocation resulting in some kind of trouble with the house and a construction company. Elements that, along with so many other things, are alluded to in the mostly nonsensical statements on the walls. Writing that is regularly painted over, and then replaced with more of the same angry, colour coordinated incoherence.
What the neighbours think of it all is anybody’s guess, especially as there is also a speaker set up playing local radio at a volume that’s just about loud enough to warrant regular tutting and muttered complaints. But for now at least, the radio stays on, and the written rants continue unabated.
Wow. That is sad and amazing and impressive , insofar as I would never be able to write such big letters on a wall with such neat handwriting.
Also, that is seriously a lot of property. Like enough for a dozen normal Tokyo houses?
Yeah, it’s a real mix of emotions. An incredibly arresting sight, but then you also have to wonder about the owner, and how he’s living.
It is. A very sizeable plot. Not quite Tokyo, but still a lot of land. Considering there are other buildings, and not just the house, it must have been quite something when it was built.
While I find this demonstration much more aesthetically and instructively appealing, it reminds me of when I lived in Alameda, California, USA and a local property owner became displeased with local governance and painted all of her properties silver—completely, head-to-toe silver, windows and all—in protest. On the main street in town would be a couple of buildings completely coated in silver paint and various houses around town the same… These days it might be disregarded as ‘street art’, but at the time it was quite the statement.
That was an aside… These photos are great and the fact that they brought up all of these old memories is a testament to their effect. Well done.
That really must have been something. A real statement, and one that no doubt caused a huge amount of fuss.
Thank you. Very good to hear. Similarly good to hear your story too.
Wow! What a place. I can’t imagine what the neighbors and the little kids walking by must think. Definitely set material for some kind of horror movie:)
That was my reaction when I first saw it. A wonderful surprise.
Funnily enough the kids were much more interested in a couple of foreigners than the house. Suppose they see that everyday. Gaijin not nearly so often!
Felipe S. says
Wow! That looks really interesting. I can’t read Japanese, but the random English words do seem to indicate that the owner might have had some sort of stocks related loss of money and/or land.
It really was. Yeah, that certainly appears to be the case. Clearly not a happy man, and clearly not afraid to show it!
What a totally crazy place! I can’t believe the guy actually lives there……….. 😮
It is. Yes, goodness knows what it’s like inside. He has a satellite dish so at least has TV, but still, a television doesn’t make a home.
What an amazing property. I love the waspish colour scheme. It really seems to match the venom of the expressions.
You have spoilt us with all the views; each in fine and sharp detail despite the diffuse and subdued lighting.
The photographs with the school children, randoseru on their backs, and the yellow of their uniform echoing the lettering on the walls, are the ones that hold attention most though. What can they think? A foreign stranger photographing something so taken for granted.
It must be quite something to have that a part your childhood world, remembered as experienced through young eyes and ears. To be recalled years on with the realization of how strange it was.
Yes, it’s incredibly striking. Good call on the waspish colour scheme and anger. Hadn’t thought of it in that way.
Not that long after, but after we had moved on, the sun came out and the grey sky turned bright blue. Wished it’d been like that when we got to the house, but I did get the kids walking past, so can’t complain.
I imagine it’s so normal for them now that they don’t even notice it. Plus they are probably too young to appreciated how unusual it really is. They certainly didn’t give it a second glance as they walked home. Unlike us who got more than a few second glances!
I can’t read Japanese but the English is interesting enough. Great find.
Thanks. Yeah, the English adds another dimension, and as you said, it’s certainly interesting, Similarly random too.
When I moved to Todakoen (Saitama) many years ago, was very amused to find this place very close the station. That was 2002 and I’m please that according to Google Maps, it’s still there 🙂
Blimey, that really is something. It looks so wonderfully out of place amidst the otherwise fairly modern, and nondescript buildings. The Saitama surfer!
The yellow mudguards, bicycle and inverted koan just go with the characters very nicely.
I just hope it is all grammatically correct, imperatives included, so as not to corrupt such young minds!
The randoseru, yellow hats and satellite dish have all created a ‘Radar Man’ and ‘Konchugun’ musical Jun diversion after the above ‘romanes eunt domus’ detour (not the Ramones!) . Strangely, the Halmens album ‘No Kindai Taiso’ is also a waspish yellow colour!
Yeah, it all works very well together. The kids walking past were perfect. We were just about to leave when we saw them on their way. I’d already taken similar first and last shots, but obviously they added so much more.
Haha, not sure how much they’ll learn!
Good to hear it provided some interesting little detours and diversions. I went to have a listen to Radar Man, and this photo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M53sy_4Nbk) isn’t all that dissimilar to the reaction we imagined would be waiting if we pressed the front door bell the owner has added an arrow too. An idea we did, sort of entertain, but common sense suggested we simply take photos and move on.
Rohan Gillett says
Absolutely amazing!! I’ve always dreamed of photographing a Japanese house like this. This has absolutely blown me away. I’m going to have to investigate it!! A truly great find Lee!
Thank you. Yes, it really is something. A friend found it but didn’t tell me what we were going to see, so you can imagine my surprise when we turned the corner. It was a very memorable moment to say the least!
Rohan Gillett says
I’ve found it already so when we get some sunny weather I might head out there.
Excellent. Definitely worth the trip. You might even see the owner if you are lucky.