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Tuesday
Jan182011

Walkabout - Hakozaki

 

Unfortunately, little remains of Hakozaki's former charm.

The university has become all but a ghost town since the opening of the Itoshima campus on the extreme opposite side of town. What will happen to the campus's Taishô and Meiji Era buildings is yet to be known, but you never can underestimate Japanese government officials' ability to turn architectural heritages into dreary, unkempt parks that no one ever visits.

The thousands upon thousands of wooden houses that once stood along Hakozaki's narrow streets have all but disappeared, torn down and replaced with shabby apartment buildings, prefab houses, and parking lots. The few that do remain are more often than not covered with ugly plastic or tin siding.

 

It's a terrible shame, but nobody seems to be shedding any tears over it. Most Japanese have come to accept it as "normal", and in a sense it is: the same thing has happened virtually everywhere in Japan.

There's a lot of talk in Japan these days of machi-tsukuri (街作り), town building or community development. I come across the word a lot in my translation work. The fact of the matter is, however, that government has been willingly complicit in what I call machi-tsubushi (街潰し), the wasting, destruction and crushing of towns in its misguided rush towards "modernity" and "development". 

 

With that now off my chest, I went for a long walk around Hakozaki and Maedashi while I was waiting for the Tama Seseri Festival to begin at Hakozaki-gû Shrine several weeks ago.

 One of the nicer homes in the area. Modest, yet sophisticated. 

A small, nicely maintained shrine I found at the end of an alley.

A shime-nawa is hanging above the doors of the shrine. 

The wall surrounding the old Kyûshû University campus. The sign says "No Parking".  

The front gates of Kyûshû University, constructed I believe in the Meiji Period. 

 Mandarin oranges 

 Another small shrine, a block away from Hakozaki-gû. 

A nicely maintained private residence in, I believe, the Maedashi neighborhood.

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