I haven’t posted anything in a few days, so I am feeling a bit obligated to post something. (PS: Skip to the last paragraph for the most interesting part)
So we are going to talk about the odd mix of modern thoroughfares, high-rises, winding alleyways, and shabby one or two story homes. As you know, I often end up wandering all around the area I live. Although there are major four and six lane streets kriss-crossing the area, there are also vast areas of winding suburbia. It’s not like American suburbia where someone came in and developed a large track of land with houses or apartments. Rather, these haphazard alleyways and one-car-wide streets may lead to apartments, a 1960s house, duplexes, and or even schools. No orientation, no predominant style or theme, no particularly obvious social class. It is truly haphazard in the very sense of the word; as if people built wherever and however they wanted with little or no zoning. If it weren’t for the buildings, I would say it was a very old city. Some of the streets are barely wide enough for a car while others are a bit tight for two people; like paths through an old European city. The buildings range from mid-grade apartment buildings to 1950s and 60s houses with corrugated tin sheds and add-ons. On the left there is a dilapidated house with its corrugated tin and overgrown plants and on the right you have a new apartment building with glass doors and a few landscaped flower beds.
Much of Tokyo (and many other cities) were destroyed by bombs, fire, etc. during the war, afterwards it must have been a race to rebuild. Maybe during post war reconstruction logical infrastructure was sacrificed for speed. This would only explain the initial chaos though, not the persistence to current day. Why are they still like that? I really have no idea but I find it quite fascinating. Why are there houses that look like they belong in a semi third-world country among $1000 per month apartments?
Maybe the owners are elderly and know that their property is likely only to rise in value. Also, if they sell, it is highly unlikely that they will ever own their own house again, property is far too expensive. I suppose I might like to keep my house too, even if all that was once fields or other houses is now 10 stories high.
All that to say “I have no idea what is going on, but it is kinda interesting.” It makes for a nice place to walk too. Imagine having a massive maze surrounding you. You can walk every day and never take the same path, at least partially because you have no idea what path you took.
I’ve also found the sounds to be fascinating. You can sit in the middle of all this and hear trains, cars, food vehicles advertising their wares, someone’s TV, a baby crying, and bike tires wising along. Walking along, I often see a man in a suit, his face lit by a cigarette, returning home from work at 8 or 9 PM. As the cigarette turns the corner, you hear the whir of a tire coming and, after it has passed, you watch the silhouette of a middle aged woman with two bags of groceries hanging from her handlebars disappear down an alley a few yards farther down. The whole time a food cart echoes through the buildings from some main street far away. I miss the stars though; luckily the people are just as numerous.