Friday, July 13, 2018

More about houses

The last of the neighbor's house has come down. Now the banging and crashing is removing the cement base, busting up and trucking out all the debris.

The builders behind the rice store have piled up the big garden rocks.

It makes me hopeful that, instead of putting in an apartment building, the space left over after the house is rebuilt might return to a beautiful garden.

The destruction caused by heavy rain to the southern areas has been big in the news.
Of course typhoons are regularly on our list of summer events. This archipelago is battered by an average of six typhoons per year, between July and October ... sometimes lasting into November.

This latest rain was unusually heavy, and in a land made up of about 70% mountains and hills, houses most often are built on steep slopes or flood-prone planes below.

Many houses are built of wood in a traditional style.  The foundations are also made of wood, which gives flexibility in earthquakes. But they stand little chance in landslides or floods. Sometimes whole houses are carried away.

Evacuation orders may or may not come as they are not sent by experts but government officials, They are not mandatory and may be ignored, or they may come at a time like during the night and not be heard.

 As I explained, the nearest road to the west divides Nerima, where I live, and Koyama-cho, the up-beat section of our ward.

This a one-way street between a highway to the south and a small two-way street running between that street and the next big highway to the northwest.

55 years ago, this area was mostly fields with a few houses. All but a few of these houses have been built quite recently. On the Koyama side, they are individual homes and on the right side, mostly big apartments or condominiums.

Nikko and I walked up toward the station this morning.

The most recently built item on the Koyama side is this large day-care facility. It is still getting some tweaking over weekends, but it opened for business at the beginning of the month, and the yard is often filled with kids. (Yesterday when I passed, there was a teacher flinging buckets of water on hot screaming kids).

When my kids were small, this was a wide field with tall trees at the back and a valley below. I could listen to owls calling until about five years ago.
While this building was being built, the space to the north was also being cleared. It was a big space and I thought big enough for a huge apartment. The dirt was dug up into huge piles and cement mixers moved in. I asked one of the workmen what was being built, and he said 6 houses. Well, after all, that is the Koyama side of the street. the huge apartment is going up on the other side near the station.

Thinking about building on hillsides in an era of landslides, Nikko and I looked down the hill at the new wall that was built to hold the hillside for those new houses.

I don't know how well reinforced this block wall is, but it has to hold all that dirt and six houses with all the run-off of water that will no longer be absorbed by trees and shrubbery.

Along where that wall is now, used to be a nice row of trees. Two of those trees supplied mulberry leaves to my silkworms.

They have built a road down the middle and the spaces for the houses are all marked off.

These are being built by a company rather than individual owners, so I imagine they will all be similar in style and materials.

They seem to be all going up at once.

On the left is the fence that runs along the edge of the day-care building.

No space wasted! (or left over for gardens)

This is a street built a number of years back on a less steep part of the hill.

two houses on each side and two at the back.

These have a bit of space for plantings and cars to park.

Then, two houses down, another new street,

The wall to the left belongs to one of the only two houses in the area from long ago.

Earlier houses were built singly and have garden space and plenty of big trees.

This is one of the two original houses.

There is a huge pine, it's branches fastened to a long pole reaching many meters across the wide gate, all the way to the front gate.

In those days, walls were made of limestone...
now with a rather worn look.

And now the last of the earlier side-streets.

Add all the apartments across the street from these side streets, and it should be no surprise that there is no place to sit on the trains.

Those were put in before this boom.

On the way home, Nikko and I stopped to talk with a neighbor who had just moved into one of the houses built in front of my gate.

He had grown up in the area between the two train lines coming out this way, back when it was all farmland.
We talked about how much the area had changed ... so much that, when getting off the train at your former station, one could hardly recognize the place ... or find your way back to where you used to live.

I pulled these pictures,  from a file of photos taken long ago.

My eldest daughter is standing in front of our wooden gate where our front step is now. She is wearing a sweater I knit from yarn scraps.

The road is dirt.

At three years old, dressed in a kimono for "Shichi-go-san" for children ages three, five, and seven,
she is standing with her grandfather in the field ... now a construction site.

and below, a picture of me and my eldest daughter, and my friend, Miki-san with her two daughters, the youngest born on the same day as my eldest. I had painted a pair of wood ducks on the gate and the neighbor to the north had a fence of greenery instead of concrete blocks.

Now the path is a meter wider and paved with asphalt. The high building in Miki-san's former garden block the sun.

My lilies have had to grow to over 8 feet to find a bit of sun.

I think they are taller than the maple tree beside them.

And, these are stretching out across the street to find some possible sun there.

I had to tie them back so they would not leave pollen on passersby.

and this plant is reaching over the hedge and out into the street to get some light.

Probably if it were standing upright, it would be as tall as the first one.

The orange cones are blocking the street where new gas lines are going in ... not that anyone is going to squeeze down this way on anything other than a bicycle...

Not much happening with needle and thread. Busy preparing for another guest, this time a former scout and childhood classmate of my #3 daughter. He brought me some beautiful tenugui ... possibly to use in a quilt??? I'd better get back to sewing!


  1. Changes, new building, modernisation or what the developers would call progress. Guess it is inevitable these days to cram more homes into smaller spaces. It is happening here in NZ too. Tenugui, is that the beautiful fine lawn like they use for hand towels? Hope it is in your favourite shades.

  2. That is a tall lilly. Mine are only about 18 inches tall, at the tallest points. Enjoy your newest house guests.

  3. It's the same here - everything is always changing and I get so tired of it sometimes - and it's hard to keep up with it all. In my opinion - not ALL change is for the better - some of it is just change for the sake of change. The old ways are "old" - so they must be bad - and that's sad. I love seeing your old photos and how it used to be. I hope you enjoy your guest and your beautiful tenugui - ;))

  4. It is such a shame that lush vegetation has to make way for modern living. Homes surrounded by verdant trees and flowers seem happier to me. Your Lily is magnificent. Isn't it funny how plants grow to reach the sun. I have seen the devastation of the floods over there on the TV. It is just horrible, but you say these happen regularly. Those old photos are sweet. Enjoy your guest; I hope you enjoy some stitching time.

  5. its a sad fact that concrete is replacing trees x Those of us who can need to keep the green going xx

  6. Wow - what changes - and love the photos of the "old days". I recently met a new neighbor who has lived in Bellingham for her whole life of almost 80 years - what stories she will have to tell, as there are almost 100,000 people here now. We have decided not to go back to my hometown of Sitka, Alaska, as they have cleared many square blocks of houses and trees across the street from the house I grew up in - and there are two big chain hotels in that area - it would break my heart to walk down our old street and see the changes - I'll remember it as it was. Changes come whether we want them or not - time moves on, with our without us.

  7. I remember hearing how Nerima was countryside in Tokyo back in 80's. I never been that side of Tokyo but the landscape changes so quickly when reached outside Kanshichi or Kanpachi. It's a strange place. At least Japan build drainage on the roads unlike Ireland. You can laugh how easily we get flooding here.