the tokyo files 東京ファイル

Two of my Japanese obsessions are a match made in urban planning heaven: 1) Japan’s vast passenger rail network, and 2) danchi 団地, the large housing complexes that became popular in post-WWII Japan. (I even started a separate blog:the tokyo files: danchi 東京団地萌え).

Danchi are characterized by uniform rows of unremarkable building that are sequentially numbered so that residents and visitors don’t get lost. Below, a still from Scattered Clouds (1967) offers a typical danchi scene; also, a map of the old Asagaya danchi 阿佐ヶ谷住宅 is also quite common.

Danchi can be seen as ugly due to their uniformity and utilitarian design; but these elements also provide their beauty and strength. Danchi represent an era of unprecedented economic growth that followed on the heals of the deprivation that immediately followed WWII. Showa nostalgia 昭和ノスタルジー, the term that describes a longing for that period, is closely tied to danchi nostalgia.

My love…

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