The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Building sites

One of the things you get used to, or not, here in Japan is the constantly changing environment in which you live. Houses and even office building are, it seems, more or less disposable: built to last a certain length of time (usually 25 to 30 years) and then routinely demolished and re-developed. Some great building have gone by the by that way to be replaced with pointless, pork barrel, residential and shopping lifestyle complexes.

Where an Englishman`s home is his castle, to the Japanese such sentimentality seems strange. Four walls and a roof are practical at best but nothing more. Asked why, the Japanese usually cite the earthquake risk as the main reason many of their buildings are built so badly and the reason they are not over attached to anything which could be destroyed in the next wobble of a tectonic plate. But coming from Europe where we have some cities that are beautiful to look at as well as interesting to live in (as well as a few in countries like Italy that are both of those things AND seismically active too) such indifference to the place you not only call home but the place you invest your time, love and energy in making a home seems cold.

Most people “don`t know what they got `till it`s gone”. Yet in Japan that feeling is possible to come across almost everyday in your own neighbourhood and only recently have people begun to bemoan the endless development that scar their cities and spoil their views.

Makes you wonder what the average Japanese would make of this moving and powerful multimedia essay by Scott Strazzante called Common Ground over on Media Storm about the effect of a building develpment on two families: those that were there before and those that came after. Have a look it is good work.

Too Late to type.

Talk soon.

Damon

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