The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter


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Been working on a few photo stories about development in Tokyo. Lots of the older areas of downtown Tokyo are being demolished and rebuilt as modern consumer towns. Those these areas might be more attractive to younger families and women the loss of traditional Shotengai, or shopping streets is a shame. Equivalent to the High Street in the UK, the atmosphere and diversity of these areas is one that would be more attractive to foreign visitors. Japan tends to see the modern, identikit shopping and residential complexes that it is building over once lively, uniquely local communities as more favourable though. It is a cleaner image to show the world and one that is more familiar to the increasing number of tourists that are visiting.

As Japan readies for the 2020 Olympics it is easy to imagine more of these towns springing-up. The image above shows the plans for that most individualistic of places, Shibuya. While they provide high concentrations of employment and convenience for visitors, and it is true that a lot of the tradition, small, family-run shops that give shontengai their charming character are now run by people happy to sell up and retire, it is a shame that they will be replaced by international brands and large national chains housed in towers of glass and concrete. However beautiful these might end up looking.

Anyway it is a developing story in many areas of Japan and one I am sure to be following more.



Update: To see the fruit of my labours with the Journalist Richard Smart and the Urban land Institute magazine, down load the app here and have a read.


2 responses

  1. pheyton

    There are still many shotengai, they’re just outside of downtown. Still lively, relevant and enjoyable. I love seeing the city change though, it breathes life and excitement to the stale remnants. However, I remember when they tore down the art community buildings on Ometesando and built that monstrosity in it’s place. Maybe that was an exception. Tokyo has changed quite a bit since I first moved here and I hope it doesn’t stop though.

    February 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm

  2. I observe the trend to do away with the old almost everywhere in Asia. Not a lot of heritage is preserved.

    February 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

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