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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Japan Tobacco vs the Neighborhood


Japan Tobacco dormitories being demolished, Nakano, Tokyo.

When I moved into my apartment in Tokyo's Nakano ward, in the Chuo 1-chome district, about four years ago, the Japan Tobacco dormitory complex just a few meters down the road was in use as a dormitory for young male workers.

It consists of several bland, putty-colored rows of two-story tenement buildings, full of tiny identical apartments, and the land between the buildings is all concreted over, without a scrap of freshness or greenery to be seen anywhere.

Japan Tobacco dormitories being demolished, Nakano, Tokyo.

However, sometime over the past year, without noticing it, it stopped being used, and the windows were boarded up.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the demolition crews moved in. It is now in the process of being demolished.

At the same time as the demolition work began, posters appeared all over the neighborhood urging that the land be turned into a park. Wandering past the plot, I have also heard on a number of occasions people actually musing to each other about how good it would be if it were turned into a park.

Poster advocating turning Japan Tobacco dormitories into a park, Nakano, Tokyo.

Will neighborhood democracy prevail? Or will vested interests turn it into something "grand" and expensive? Only time will tell. We'll keep you posted.

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