Tokyo Damage Report


In Japanese, shitamachi (下町) literally means "lower city" – in other words, down by the river. But it's as much an economic distinction as a geographical one: shitamachi neighborhoods tend to be ramshackle and full of collapsing buildings. (of course, the "new trendy" sections of Tokyo are often full of super expensive apartments the size of closets, while on the other hand, shitamachi people often own their own property, so who is to say you should judge a book by its cover?)


Anyway, I like shitamachi places because they often have a cool, post-war vibe. The buildings look like they were thrown up in a hurry after the bombs. It's not slick or kawaii.  Actually, shitamachi is popular with native Japanese for the same reasons!!


Anyway, here are some photos from  an east-Tokyo neighborhood called Mukoujima:



The cluster of buildings above is so random it looks like some Katamari Damacy shit!

The "haunted house" above? that's actually A DENTIST'S OFFICE.  Let's see more:


Fuck!  Wonder if they get a lot of repeat customers??






Above: the Dove shopping mall in Mukoujima.

(actually all the bombed-out ruins are ALSO in the mall).



Below, some classic "tiny as fuck" tokyo architecture, in Meguro:




below, another haunted house (オバケ屋敷) (’obake yashiki')







In  case you dare to knock on the door: it's at

Sumida ku, Agatsumabashi, 2-chome-5-9.

Don't be too scared, though .. . it's right next to a high-class jewelry store.

I imagine there have been words exchanged.

Below: Asakusa 3-chome shitamachi:




18 comments Tags: ,

18 Comments so far

  1. William April 1st, 2010 9:38 pm

    Cool photographs. I love those kind of places for the same reasons. I was just wandering around a similar place today, looking for hidden sakura trees to photograph. :)

  2. AnokPanda April 2nd, 2010 7:03 am

    That van at the top has mad personality, like he's trying to tip toe out there cause he's afraid of contracting rust.
    I like when movies are filmed in these types of neighborhoods.

    Any idea of a general population census of a neighborhood like this. i'd be tempted to live in a place like that, but I'm sure there are a few health & safety hazards along with a lack of others modern conveniences I couldn't deal with.

  3. szaszha April 2nd, 2010 6:57 pm

    so, is there a comic shop in the mall, or is that hanging iron silhouette of jeff albertson (simpsons comic book guy) just there for no reason at all? i'm totally baffled by this.

  4. derek April 2nd, 2010 9:54 pm

    i know this has nothing to do with this post, but have you uploaded any cds or music on this website and if not could you? i really like j-punk but its hard to find it online. thanks

  5. Victor April 3rd, 2010 12:16 pm

    Dude! I absolutely love those photos, there is something charming in all those buildings: not so clean, not so neat, not ugly but mesmerizing.
    It makes you think Who lives there? What is this building history?  Does Dr Hobo-san live there?
    I´m sure that the sumida-ku house looks lovely in springtime with all those branches covered in green leaves.

  6. 23 Wolves April 4th, 2010 2:32 pm

    I like this very much.  I wonder if there are any Silent Hill type games set in Japan?

  7. james April 5th, 2010 2:47 am

    Those pictures of the buildings that are completely falling apart, like the one made of corrugated steel with the hole in its roof, do people actually live/work in those? Or are they just straight up abandoned? In homes like the first picture, what is it usually like on the inside? I'd love to see you do a series on the insides of buildings (although I know that would obviously be harder to get permission/take pictures).

  8. Mr.Brian April 5th, 2010 6:45 am

    I think I know that toy store. Looks like one near Kuramae station. That furry house is rad. Great pictures.

  9. Flora April 5th, 2010 10:45 am

    My god these are gorgeous!  Esp the furry house!

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  11. Sarah April 5th, 2010 4:09 pm

    Tiptoeing Van is my new favourite character.

  12. Tim Drage April 6th, 2010 1:59 pm

    Ok so when I status-post TDR stuff on facebook apparently it induces FANART –

  13. admin April 7th, 2010 1:09 am

    @tim : well, my photo is nothing more than fan-art of that building, so . . .
    @sarah: tiptoeing van???
    @flora: thanks!
    @james: the house with the hole in the roof I assume is abandoned – it looks like it caught on fire.
    @sjashja: how did you find out Comic Book Guy’s real name? (I suppose ‘real’ should be in quotes?) (p.s. I assumed that store’s logo was late-’70s George Carlin, but I guess the first one to dare enter can solve the puzzle).

  14. erious April 9th, 2010 6:17 am

    Great photos, I have an unhealthy fascination with this kind of urban environment. One of the reasons I dropped out of university where I was studying architecture was because I wanted to design shit that looked like that on purpose.
    Anyway, your site is one of the main reasons I want to at least visit Japan in the future, and one of things that caused me to start learning Japanese.  I've been reading your work for years already, but I don't think I commented before – so I'll take this opportunity to thank you for all the great content so far, and hope for more to come.

  15. sixmats April 9th, 2010 6:40 am

    I think you should have gone inside some of the buildings – if they're abandoned.

  16. maki September 22nd, 2010 6:30 am

    How do i get in touch with you (as in the author)? im a freelance journo, and I need to contact you!

  17. Bobby Serious March 2nd, 2011 9:51 pm

    There's a really interesting abandoned building in Mukojima that has 'OFF LIMITS' stenciled (in English) on it's front wall – according to a local oyaji, it was a brothel in the postwar period and the sign was there for American GIs.
    Not many buildings like that around anymore.
    Well worth looking for if you head up there again – it's just off Pigeon/Dove street

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