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Bright Side

A Photographer Shows How the Past and Present Are Merged in Harmony in Japan

In many countries, modernism has taken over in big cities, but this is not the case with Japan where tradition is still highly respected. And that’s because not everyone is willing to sell their property so it can be rebuilt. No matter the amount of money, some landowners stay true to their roots and say that their land is not for sale. And Japan Property Central shows how the old and the new can live peacefully without one overcoming the other.

Bright Side picked 16 photos where old and traditional buildings exist comfortably right next to modern and imposing skyscrapers.

1. Futaba Sushi, in Ginza first opened in 1877. The current building dates from the 1950s.

2. Downtown Toranomon with the Atago Green Hills office tower in the distance.

3. An old house sitting under the glow of Tokyo Tower.

4. This shop has been making custom-order shirts since 1921.

  • The original founder’s face is featured prominently on the storefront.

5. An old shophouse in Kanda. This one was given a makeover a few years ago.

6. An old shop in Uchikanda, Tokyo

7. This one resembles a ‘yagura’ watchtower with a grass-covered base and burnt cedar walls.

  • The ceiling is decorated with crushed cedar pieces. To enter, you have to crawl through a small circular door at the rear and climb a ladder to the tea room upstairs.

8. This was the Shibuya Usagi British-style restaurant, covered in ivy.

  • They relocated to a new location 2 blocks away earlier this year. The new place is also covered in ivy, but not to this degree.

9. A little old house just down the street from Toranomon Hills

10. This coffee place has been open for 50 years and is famous for its crème caramel.

11. A faux castle-style hourly motel that first opened in 1973.

  • This one closed in 1989 but was acquired by Sekitei Group, a leisure hotel chain, and reopened in 2007. The hotel was raking in as much as ¥40 million a month in its prime.

12. An Italian restaurant in an old post-war home in Ningyocho, Tokyo.

13. Yasuyo Building, Shinjuku. It was built in 1968 to honor Yasuda Yoichi, a wealthy businessman.

14. One of the few surviving residences that were built following the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake

  • This one was the shophouse of a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. Notice how the side of the house has very few windows despite being alongside an open laneway? That’s an old fire prevention measure.

15. 2 townhouses from 2 different centuries

16. This old ramen shop, pictured in 2017, was demolished recently as part of a larger block redevelopment.

Have you ever been to any other countries that are actively trying to preserve their old magic while giving modernism a chance? What did you like the most about other countries you’ve visited, apart from their architecture?

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