Saturday 10 November 2012

Changing Landscape

Scarf and gloves now for the early morning walk to work though the days are sunny and bright.  We've had some rainy and windy days but for the most part the blue skies and bright sunshine continue. And on a few days, like today, the air is so clear and the mountains so close that you feel you can reach out and touch them.

Got a new camera so I've been out and about in town taking pictures but what shocked me most was the open spaces. Where there used to be a building, suddenly there's nothing. For those older buildings that were not in a good state of repair the earthquake was the last straw. The owners held on for a while but now they're coming down. Most are turned into car parks, or just left empty. Very few are being developed properly. Prime sites with just a convenience store and a massive car park have become commonplace. Presumably the owners don't have the money to replace the 5 or 6 storey buildings that once stood there, or can't be sure of the rental income needed to fund a rebuild.

The city has just appointed a committee to look into improving the look of the city. The word they use is keikan 景観. This word is generally translated as landscape, but it's more to do with the urban landscape and planning. I first came across this word in the early 80s when a high rise hotel was built at the foot of Mount Bandai. There was an outcry and the governor at the time slapped on an order forbidding further development that would blight the view of the mountain. In Japan's dash for growth in the 1960s and 70s old buildings were demolished and development was a free for all resulting in ugly urban sprawl and the countryside littered with billboards. Coming from England which has almost too many restrictions, I wanted to scream, 'Are there no regulations at all!'. A Landscape Act was eventually passed in 2004.

Well, here are some pics of the changing landscape in Koriyama. It would be good if these sites could be developed sympathetically in future.

There is snow on the high mountains: Mount Bandai and the Azuma Range. The tourist  roads which have been toll-free to encourage tourists are now only passable during the day and will close for the season next Thursday . This is our last chance to enjoy the autumn leaves in town before we hunker down for the winter.
Bye for now
Restaurant and building being pulled down just behind my office - though this one will be redeveloped.
Now you see it, now you don't. This building disappeared in a  matter of weeks.
(The building behind  is the apartment block where I live.)
Familiar sign:  Demolition in Progress - and a neat builder asking for your cooperation
The building where I work - covered in scaffolding and net for the past three months.
The building is finished with tiles and the cracked ones are being replaced.
Scaffolding goes up. Don't you love those baggy knickerbockers the builders here wear!
Used to be restaurant. Not a pretty sight. Top end of Sakuradoori.
(Car in the foreground is the neat little Cinquecento I drive these days.)
This prime site next to the City Concert Hall used to have a 5 or 6 storey apartment block .
Now it's a 7-11 with huge car park.
Here too, on the main intersection between Sakuradoori and Route 49.
At least the house with nice garden will get more sun now that the huge ugly
building that once stood here is gone.

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