Almost twelve months ago, I posted a series of empty plots where old homes and business had once been. Spaces that despite offering little in the way of hints, still manage to feel strangely evocative of the past. Much more obviously, they also expose walls and sometimes even whole structures that haven’t seen the light of day for decades.
Such changes are a common theme on these pages, along with my photography in general, so a year on from that first set, here’s a follow-up. The photos date from a week or so after that initial post, to some that were taken very recently. None of them offer any real clues of what was, but several do provide far clearer images of what’s to come.
This is a very strong set of images. I think the last shot is so good but the contrasts in the first are something else. Thanks for documents and sharing this change.
Thanks a lot. The demolition in that first shot has been slowly going on for years, so it was good to get those different generations of buildings in one frame before all the older ones are gone.. And you are very welcome. It’s something I want to do.
The rust-marred corrugated metal panels are ubiquitous in the back alleys. To the unfamiliar, might seem like the mark of a poor, underdeveloped country, but such is the 21st century Tokyo megalopolis. The contrasts – literal and otherwise – are fascinating and captivating. I suspect that is why a lot of us are here (not the only reason, of course). Tokyo is a place always changing. I never know when something will be gone – until one day the white panels and scaffolding go. Can never take the landscape for granted and just appreciate things while they are here in their ephemeral existence, I suppose. Lots of Shibuya-area childhood memories of places enjoyed are no more, and the new skyscraper-glass-steel-escalators style just isn’t the same to me. I wonder how the post-2020 Olympic development push shakes out in the years to come, both for the hubs and the smaller neighborhoods.
It’s probably fair to assume that the pace of change is only going to get quicker as so many old buildings (and their inhabitants) seem to be reaching their limits. All the more reason then to enjoy them while they last.
Tokyo still draws many young people to live and work. But Japan has a relatively stagnant economy and a declining birth rate. Will Tokyo really change more quickly in this environment of uncertainty, if not malaise?
That’s a very good point. My guess is that for the foreseeable future it will, as Japan’s big cities, and Tokyo in particular, continue to suck in a lot of the life from the rest of the country. Beyond that though I wouldn’t even try to speculate, as it’s surely unsustainable for both Tokyo, and the country in general.
So far no leader has been able to reverse the imbalance between a declining birth rate and a growing number of senior citizens. We shall see what happens over the course of the next generation.
No, they really haven’t. Increased immigration will surely have to happen, especially in many of the industries younger Japanese understandably don’t want to enter. It is happening, to a degree, but many of those coming in aren’t allowed to stay beyond their initial visa.
It took me a while to decide what I thought of these. There should be some sadness or nostalgia for what was and a sense of anticipation or excitement at what is to come. But I think, for me at least, the photographs capture the “now” of the time you took them and as such have that Japanese “Useful Emptiness” feeling. Just emptiness – no past no future no purpose other than that of (not)being there.
Sheesh I talk rubbish sometimes. (Wife nods silently in agreement).
That’s interesting. Also one of the reasons I love photography so much. Everyone sees things differently.
For me there’s very much a sense of loss/sadness, but that’s probably because I walk these streets fairly regularly, and so see the changes over time. Sometimes I can remember what was there, and others I can’t. But even if it’s the latter I still feel a strange sense of loss as it’s one more gone…