storefront

Mechanical claw gobbles up Showa history

日本語では「パワーショベル」と言いますね。昭和時代の家にさようなら。

Living in Tokyo you become used to the continual process of demolition and new construction. Not the ten or twenty year boom and bust cycles I’ve seen in San Francisco and New York City. Even in the perpetually shrinking Japanese economy, Tokyo continues to morph and grow. The photo is from the demolition of a post-war Showa house in Nakano, a residential neighborhood. It will undoubtedly be replaced with a multi-unit structure made of pre-fab materials and slightly customized, standard layouts.

Closer to my house, I’ve seen the local liquor seller vacate his main storefront, which was replaced by a brand new 7-Eleven in less than four weeks. I watched the incredibly fast work to the interior, modernizing a 1970s storefront into the faceless, placeless space of a convenience store. They also installed enormous heating and cooling structures on the roof. I was glad to see that the liquor store owner has retained an adjacent, closet-sized space for his liquor sales. He seems to enjoy interacting with the neighbors.

Old storefront in Shimokitazawa full of plants

下北沢を自転車でぶらぶらしていて、きれいな店先を見ました。ずっと前に、店を閉めましたが、まだ歩道の庭は手入れされています。懐かしい気持ちになりました。
Biking in Shimokitazawa, I was struck by this old storefront partly covered in plants. There’s an impressive accumulation of pots, stands, and small trees. In a city of constant demolition and rebuilding, it’s nice to see this relic of the post-war period: clean architectural lines with aging wood and metal fixtures. It seems like the shop closed long ago, but the resident maintains the garden right up against the street.

Beautiful raphis palms outside of small shop

I love how this small shop on Shinjuku Dori has two beautiful raphis palms outside the storefront. They provide a lush and tropical look and partly obscure the air conditioning unit.  Tokyo has a surprising number of small shops throughout the city, and their owners seem more likely to take pride in their neighborhood and cultivate plants than big chain stores.