The neighborhood I grew up in Colorado consists of houses mainly built in the ’50’s and ’60’s. That means the houses are about 50-60 years old. Although the houses were once a pop-up community, the construction was solid, and the layout of the neighborhood is pleasant, so the neighborhood continues to flourish.

I think Japan must be an architect’s nightmare. Loose soils,and earthquakes are enough to make my head spin, but paired with steep slopes, heavy summer rainfall, and tsunamis. there are a lot of elements to fight in this country. This doesn’t explain abysmal construction  I see around town (Kyoto faces the same issues, and is absolutely beautiful). Houses for the most part in my area aren’t intended to last more than 30 years. On my walk home from Uenohara ES, I walk by houses that are literally crumbling, some of the houses are only about 25 years old. Windows are boarded up because the windows inside shattered under the pressure from the warping walls. There are gaping holes in the walls, and in some, there are pieces of plywood over holes in the floor of the upper floors. If it were a choice between homelessness, and a roof over my head, I see that these houses in ruins are the better option. The part that makes me sad though is that at some point these people had enough money to buy the house outright, but it now has no value. Even the land the houses are built on aren’t enough to help the people whose homes have crumbled around them. In town the cost of tearing down a house costs more than the land it occupies.  One of the houses is on the main street, it no longer has doors, most of the windows are broken, and the floor inside is so littered in holes I see them stepping from hole to hole instead of on the floor boards. Sometimes when a house is no longer fit to live in, and the family has enough money to build a new one, the old house is just left abandoned, this gives an opportunity to those whose houses are too dangerous to live in, or someone who has recently come on hard times.

To me it is just mind boggling that houses here are constructed so poorly. Laminates are used for flooring, wall papers are plastered up on walls that let moisture seep into the house constantly, the walls are so thin that without some sort of energy input the house is always the same temperature inside as outside.

Uenohara

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Crumbling Buildings in Japan