A seashore covered in concrete

Recently I took a day trip to Iwaki with my in-laws. We ended the afternoon on the top floor of a 1980s hotel in a cafe which had the clever idea of placing sand on the floor below the tables that face out on the coast. On closer examination, I realized that both the small hill and the seashore are covered in concrete.

The view reminded me of Alex Kerr’s Dogs and Demons about how the institutional forces that lead the government to degrade the countryside and the environment. On the one hand, pouring concrete on the hillside protects the houses below, and presumably what look like huge concrete children’s jacks on the shore prevent flooding. But did they need to build houses on such perilous land, or was the lure of construction profits and kickbacks too great to pass up?


  1. Answering those final questions would make for a very interesting post. It could be the beginnings of a wonderful environmental microhistory — and a very long blog post. But could you tell us who the ‘they’ are and how long that that community as been around?

    1. Thank you, Colintyner, for your comment. I highly recommend Alex Kerr’s book that describes in great detail and with great insight how Japan has been paved over. Japan’s construction ministry along with private companies have found it extremely profitable to pour concrete. Money goes to both corporations and bureaucrats, creating a vicious cycle where no risk is too small to engineer an elaborate solution. I don’t think I can do this topic justice, so please check out Kerr’s book.

  2. Thank you for the reply. I appreciate the reference; however, I don’t think that Kerr’s schema is going to help me — or anyone — really understand the particular circumstances that led to the building of that community and its littoral landscape — pre and post concrete. Anyway, I think that the answers that I am looking can only come from interviewing people that live there. There’s my new side project, eh. Thanks again for feeding me with thought, and its looks like you have a great project.

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