I live in a peaceful, nouveau riche neighborhood on the border between Setagaya-ku and Meguro-ku, where the magnanimous demolition teams swoop in once a week to level another house with traditional architecture and replace it with two luxurious three-story condos measuring fifteen feet across. Lately, the construction state offered a handful of wealthy people a new place to call home in another faux-Form-Follows-Function reinforced concrete Modernist daydream. The tenants next door were not so happy and raised the handmade banner seen below upon their second-floor balcony. It reads: 「近隣の住環境を奪うな！隣家との間５０cm余り？風も通らぬ圧迫建設！！」In English: “Don’t take away our neighborhood living environment! You can’t leave even 50 cm between the houses? This is such oppressive construction that even the wind can’t pass through!”
One should not expect very much lebensraum in Tokyo, but I understand the neighbor’s emotions: The sons and daughters of local merchants are selling off the old Showa houses and selling the land to real estate developers with an eye on the 40 year-old business star with the yellow Porche and high-water pants. But why such the abject desperation for land-grabbing in late 2005? This isn’t the Bubble. Just give the neighbors half a goddamn meter and get a move on to destroying some more antique residences in Yutenji. Think of all the poor concrete just waiting for a chance to be used!