Japan has no shortage of beautiful places and buildings, but personally, it’s the ramshackle and forlorn that really grab my attention. Faded or dilapidated structures that hint at unknown stories, and at the same time boast a unique, unconventional beauty all their own.
This aspect of the country is something I’ve been gradually documenting on my portfolio site, here, and almost exclusively on Instagram. The same goes for the exploration of buildings that have gone beyond mere disrepair, and lapsed into abandonment. These can be found in sets on this site, or as a greatest hits of sorts, here.
A good few of the photos mentioned above, however, were taken in different parts of the country, as urban migration and Japan’s ageing population have really begun to devastate smaller towns and settlements. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t similar sights to be seen in the capital, because there are — lots of them in fact. A situation that finally brings me to the photos below.
Taken while out and about in Tokyo over the last few months, they show a very different side of this modern metropolis — one that is fascinating, but at the same time gradually disappearing.
Gotta say, they sure go against my image of Tokyo. I like them all but the combination of kanji and graffiti in the first pic really appeals. Thanks so much for sharing!
You are very welcome. That particular building fascinates me as there seems to be much more to it than just the shop front. Would love to get inside, but sadly all sealed up…
I like the fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth pictures. I really like the images of nature taking over the urban. Pretty cool, its like the tv shows about life after no more people. Kind of like the photos of Chernobyl, post melt down.
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. There’s something really quite beautiful about nature slowly taking things back, isn’t there? A beauty tinged with a certain amount of sadness. Or perhaps melancholy be more accurate?
Very cool set. Images like this just make me want to visit Tokyo even more! 🙂
Cheers. There’s certainly a lot to explore. Being so big there are so many distinct areas to see and enjoy.
Great shots, I love photographing “Weathered Japan “
Thanks. Yeah, I know what you mean. Thankfully there’s so much of it to photograph as well.
There is so much to comment on in the great set of photographs, but it’s the abandoned room one that I spent most time looking at – and researching. The trio of a 20+ year old poster of Ryuichi Kawamura, a boys day(?) samurai doll and a 70s Electro-Confidence phone with that lovely raised number ring, make for an atmospheric glimpse into someone’s life. I wonder what made them look at the poster and doll as they left for the last time and decide to leave them.
Cheers. That place was an odd one. Already half demolished I managed to get in, and as expected, it was empty. Well, empty except for this room, which is another element to add into the mix. Why leave things from just this room? And considering the phone and the poster, how long has the building been left untouched until now?
Martin B says
It’s always wonderful to see these types of photo’s, the parts of the city that the glossy magazines and travel programmes don’t show – gritty, grimy, ramshackle and run down, some of them nearly falling down by the looks of it, what I often think of as the *real* part of a city, the sort of places where ordinary, every day life takes place, or at least used to.
The last photo really does seem to have become your trademark style, it’s ‘that look’ again, the one that says ‘What’s that weird Gaijin doing?’
Thank you. That’s really nice to hear. Having a certain style, or a photo recognisable is always an aim, so reading that is a real confidence booster.
That’s certainly how I see those parts of Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Shinjuku in particular. Sadly too old now for the likes of Harajuku and Shibuya. But these rundown, older areas are definitely where real life goes on, and has done for a very long time too.
I do like this serie, it makes me want to visit Tokyo again.
Thanks. This kind of stuff might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely one of the many facets of Tokyo that I’d miss if I left.
Is that barber shop still in business?
No, and not for a long time going by the interior. Tried the door as I’d love to have taken some photos inside. It’s fantastically retro.
The back of the building is still in use, however, so presumably the barber retired and just shut up the shop part of his home/business.