I have been in Japan more than 10 years. I have either lived in Urayasu or spent most of my time there. I have come to love the old part of town. The town that harks back to its days as an important fishing town on Tokyo bay. Most of the the fishermen these days have to offer fishing tours rather than reap the harvest from the sea. Or they have a yakatabune (a boat used for parties). Unlike their forefathers whose livelihood was directly dependent on what the sea provided.
Those days are quickly coming to an end. The old part of town will not be much different from the new part of town within the next 10 years. Therefore, I have witnessed the destruction of an authentic piece of Japanese culture.
The heart of the old part of Urayasu is Flower Dori (Street). At one point in time before the highway and the Tozai train line was built this was the main drag. Small shops hawking their wares. Fisherman homes lined along the canals that let out into tokyo bay. The first time I walked down the street about 10 years ago I was amazed that there were still public baths on the street.
Now we jump to just a few days ago. I turn my bike to head down Flower Street to see how the destruction has been progressing, only to learn that it has been progressing at an almost unimaginable speed. A beautiful old tackle shop had been replaced with a tasteless apartment building and that was just the beginning.
The street was being widened at one point. Both of the historic buildings on both sides of the street had been leveled into dust. My heart just sank. It was heartbreaking seeing the street that was once so full of character being replaced with modern apartment buildings.
I had hopes that the city would preserve some of its own heritage, but that dream has been turned to dust. They won’t stop until there is nothing left to rebuild. It was one building at a time, now they are being replaced in twos and threes. The pace is unrelenting.
One of my favorite stomping ground for photographs will be left as memories in only in pixels, and celluloid that I have captured them on. I much rather be able to wander those streets, then just be at home and look at photographs.
Old Urayasu will be new Urayasu in a short time. I shed some celluloid tears.