SkyscraperCity Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,096 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This winter I will be in Japan again for a few weeks. I had an idea to find and photograph buildings in Tokyo that survived earthquakes, fires and WWII through the centuries.

Ofcourse I am familiar with the Meiji Era buildings around Tokyo central station. But I am wondering if there are other locations in the city where I can find hidden gems.

I am also interested in Pre-WWII styles in general. I want to know about the area's in Tokyo that have a lot of examples like this. The best ofcourse would be to find cutesy old buildings surrounded by skyscrapers and concrete monsters.

Any tips would be very welcome :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
I used (until this year) to live in Ningyocho, Chuo-ku. There's a bunch of old buildings, especially in the backstreets. The famous Amazake-yokocho has a lot, but there's a more hidden street that is even better, a row of old nomiya. It ends up with a sushi-ya that has a sign written from right to left, with a phone number so short it dates back at least to Taishô.
For bigger buildings, Nihonbashi has a lot of Meiji buildings, around mitsukoshimae but also sometimes hidden in the shitamachi, toward Kodenmacho or Hamacho.
Finally, I can only recommend that you explore the Tsukuda area and also Monzen-nakacho.
(That's not all, of course)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,096 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Nihonkitty & Braillard. I am now checking out the names of Meiji era architects and finding out if parts of their oeuvre have survived. If I find something good I'll post it here.

The area Amazake-Yokocho sounds very interesting to me. I will probably pay a visit ;)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
Well, I believe old buildings with "grand historical significance" in Tokyo are those built in a Western-style between the Meji and early-Showa era (before 1930 specifically).

Here are my favorites:

Mitsubishi Kaitokaku, 1908:



http://www.mars.dti.ne.jp/~jwtoshi/uploaded_images/kaitokaku-734578.jpg

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi main store, 1914 (renovated and expanded in 1927):


http://blog-imgs-38.fc2.com/k/e/n/kenchiku228/IMG_8019_convert_20100824211646.jpg

Tokyo Tatemono Building, 1929:



http://www.taisei.co.jp/MungoBlobs/476/861/showa2_ph002.jpg

Are there many old buildings that were lost in the Earthquakes?
Yes and no. From researching, I found Tokyo still has a fair amount of pre-war buildings. Unfortunately, many of the best are gone or unrecognizable today (many department stores). Also, while some were significantly damaged from the 1923 earthquake (most buildings were constructed afterwards anyway) and World War II, the majority seemed to have been demolished around the mid-twentieth century during times of economic prosperity. Strangely enough, this blog shows countless larger ones were still around during the bubble economy, when land prices were skyrocketing and redevelopment would have seemed favorable. Quite contrarily, it's extremely disheartening how much has been destroyed in the past twenty years, chiefly for the fear an earthquake and the conception of a box being safer.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
^^It's likely because they're not privately-owned, thus have less of a chance of being sold to developers. Akasaka Palace is owned by the Imperial Family, and while the Bank of Japan was expanded (an ugly box tumor), the old sections were likely kept for the historic character associated with a central bank. Afterall, the National Diet Building and some other major government buildings from before the war still exist.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
A lot of the smaller regional cities missed the chance to develop a unique face. When you get off the Shinkensen in Sendai, it's hard to tell where you are because everything just looks like Ikebukuro. The same department store fronts, the same chains, the same station plaza, bus and taxi terminal, pedestrian bridge...

A major cause is that Japanese building codes do very little to enforce what a building looks like, so big department stores etc. just put buildings that looks like any other place. With so much effort put into attracting domestic tourists I wish more cities would care about their station plazas. Kochi has a really nice one. The worst has to be Shin-Osaka.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
^^Train stations and department stores looking alike is not necessarily an issue to me, because it's all part of branding, and the same can apply to a lot of Western countries. In fact, I like a couple of Sendai's department stores (Mitsukoshi and PARCO come to mind), even if they look like ones elsewhere. The station building is a train wreck itself. While it looks like Shin-Osaka, both station buildings are hideous, and if every station instead looked like Hakata or Sapporo, the same logic wouldn't apply because those are appealing stations, and any ubiquitousness is a common character rather than something mundane.

I don't think you mean building codes, which Japan has lots of, but rather design guidelines. Regardless, it's true. I would of thought of all places, Tokyo's expensive Den-en-chōfu district had strict ones, as they rebuilt the train station to imitate the original, but nowadays a lot of box houses are being built in the area. Seriously, there's nothing cool or edgy about it... It's just boring when there's already many existing and under construction similar surrounding ones.
 

·
King of Bernicia
Joined
·
1,483 Posts
I was in central Tokyo yesterday, near Tokyo station, wow! So many cool old buildings.
How did these buildings survive? You would think the dead centre of Tokyo would be the prime target during the war. And the major place for development afterwards.

A lot of the smaller regional cities missed the chance to develop a unique face. When you get off the Shinkensen in Sendai, it's hard to tell where you are because everything just looks like Ikebukuro. The same department store fronts, the same chains, the same station plaza, bus and taxi terminal, pedestrian bridge...

A major cause is that Japanese building codes do very little to enforce what a building looks like, so big department stores etc. just put buildings that looks like any other place. With so much effort put into attracting domestic tourists I wish more cities would care about their station plazas. Kochi has a really nice one. The worst has to be Shin-Osaka.
Agreed this is a big problem in Japan.
Its not so much branding ,its OK that there will be lots of shops owned by the same company with consistant branding. What happens though is the buildings themselves are all the same.

In terms of every town looking the same Japan has it better than my homeland of Britain. In Japan you do get big variation in what chains exist between the different regions. It's quite interesting to see all these regional chains.
In Britain it is a commonly moaned about part of the modern world that all of our high streets are beginning to look the same and lose all sense of unique identity.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
I was in central Tokyo yesterday, near Tokyo station, wow! So many cool old buildings.
How did these buildings survive? You would think the dead centre of Tokyo would be the prime target during the war. And the major place for development afterwards.
The buildings survived the war, and were then occupied by Allies. Many more used to exist, but of course, were destroyed in the sixties during Marunouchi's first "redevelopment." Still, considering Marunouchi's importance in the world economy, and Tokyo's rash demolitions over the years, I'm surprised how it's the most preserved place in the city when compared to Ginza or Nihonbashi.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
Tokyo to resurrect Japan's 1st state guest house by 2020 Olympics
The first state guest house in modern Japan will be re-created in the Hamarikyu Gardens in the capital's central Chuo Ward ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“It is vitally important for the Olympics host city to have its own guest house to officially greet (foreign dignitaries),” said Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe during a Jan. 6 news conference. “It will allow us to offer Japanese-style hospitality that demonstrates the essence of our traditional culture.”

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government, the original 1,400-square-meter Enryokan guest house was designed by the Tokugawa Shogunate as a naval facility near the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867).

The building was completed in 1869, and used as the state guest house of the Meiji government until 1883, when the new Rokumeikan guest house was completed. Enryokan was torn down in 1890 because of its age.

The metropolitan government plans to earmark about 100 million yen ($840,000) in its budget draft for fiscal 2015 for on-site research and design for the building.

The Hamarikyu Gardens were used by family members of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and also served as the home of the original Enryokan guest house. The gardens are now a national special scenic and historic spot.

The Tokyo government plans to apply for permission from the commissioner for cultural affairs to start the excavation research and architectural design studies during the next fiscal year.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201501070029
The building:

http://www.asahicom.jp/articles/images/AS20150106003988_comm.jpg

Excellent news! I hope the Rokumeikan and Edo Castle are rebuilt, too. If the former becomes the new State Guest House, the Akasaka one should be changed back into the Crown Prince's Palace.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
For Sale: Historic Taisho-Modern House in Shinjuku





One of the first homes to be built in the Mejiro Bunka-mura subdivision is for sale. The pre-war home is one of just a very small number of surviving historic houses in this neighbourhood. As much as 70% of the Bunka-mura neighbourhood was destroyed during air raids in 1944 and 1945, while urban development in recent decades saw the demolition of many the few remaining original residences.

Although the age of this house is unknown, the Taisho-Modern style house could potentially be 90+ years old.

The property is being sold as land only, with the house to be included as-is. No value has been placed on the house as it is expected a buyer will demolish it to build a new one. As such, it is listed at land value.

The 176 sqm block of freehold land fronts onto a 5.3 meter wide public road on the south-west side. This is a generous road width for a residential neighborhood, as typical roads tend to be no more than 4 meters wide.

The land is zoned as a Category I Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zone. Building heights in this zone are capped at 10 ~ 12 meters. Maximum allowable building sizes are also relatively low in this neighbourhood, with maximum footprints of 50% of the land and a maximum total floor area of 100% of the land size. This means that the maximum house size on a 100 sqm block of land would be no more than 50 sqm per floor and no more than 100 sqm of living area aboveground (allowances apply for garages and basements).

The property is a 6 minute walk from the Oedo subway line, which is 24 minutes direct to Roppongi Station and 14 minutes direct to Shinjuku.

http://japanpropertycentral.com/2017/03/for-sale-historic-taisho-modern-house-in-shinjuku/
http://japanpropertycentral.com/tok...ale/taisho-modern-historic-house-in-shinjuku/
Somebody would have to be an ISIS-tier cultural vandal to destroy this mansion and replace it with several shed-roofed rowhouses. Land a few blocks away with a wall believed to have been by Frank Lyod Wright was destroyed for such. Meanwhile, a mansion across Shin Mejiro Dori is a registered cultural property and maintained beautifully.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Are there any new (21st century) constructions that have Western/European style architecture and design?

Aside from Shiodome West of course
Are some of the buildings in the photo new? Can you tell me what street this is, so I can look it up in Street View? It looks interesting. :)

BTW: I noticed that in Asia, places with old buildings tend to be the "not so good" neighbourhoods of a city – or am I wrong? In the western world it's the opposite, wherever you have old buildings, it's usually the better places to be / to live. So I guess that's one of the reasons why many of these pre-war buildings in Asia have disappeared. It's really a shame, I like them.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
^^It's here. The area was developed within the last decade.

Western or non-Western, there isn't a clear correlation because it's universally about location in real estate more than building stock. You have many "not so good" neighborhoods of old buildings or failed new towns in the West, and your gentrified places with old buildings which are usually mixed with new ones. Japan usually follows a more Western dichotomy compared to its other Asian neighbors, but prewar buildings are more far and few. What's left is what survived the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and/or World War II, as well as demolition under the fear of earthquakes and failed attempts at heritage protection. Also, the buildings in this thread are all in some of the most prestigious areas of Tokyo.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top