New, but lifeless; shabby, but alive
On the other hand, despite this deluge of new housing developments since the 2011 earthquake, leaving no free space anywhere, there are also many abandoned homes sprinkled all over the city. It is as if the inhabitants simply walked out, closed the door, and never came back. You can even see kitchen utensils still hanging in windows, or clothes waiting for the next day of work. Being Japan, there is no question of vandalism. So, these buildings remain, getting older and shabbier as the years go by. Their age and emptiness give an eerie feeling. But at the same time, the wildly overgrown gardens and rusty walls yield a sense of life and of mystery. Surely that is good for the imagination and the soul, don’t you think?
This extreme contrast of inhabited, but lifeless homes, next to shacks or empty, but alive ones has led me on many photo explorations around my neighborhood. Here are a few of the shots so far. Maybe you will be as intrigued as I am in seeing of them, each with its unique presence and definite personality.
Where do the children play?
Uninhabited, but Alive
Even a bicycle is left as is
Barely Standing, but Inhabited
My grateful neighbor’s home and garden
My neighbor’s friend lives here.
These photos seem to show that Japan, too, is a very divided society. The differences are not as loudly broadcast as in America, but they are there, and for the most part, accepted. There are the rich and the poor. Those who live in newness and comfort, next to those who reside in poverty. There are small developments with soulless homes popping up like mushrooms coupled with shacks and empty places filled to the brim with life of one form or another. The unifier in all this, though, is a deep sense of national identity. “We are Japanese and we are very proud of it.” I hope very soon Americans, with maturity and no embarrassment, will be able to say the same.