Sunday, September 5, 2010
Urban Archeology in Juban
In Japan most buildings have a relatively short shelf life. But those that survive often have a long memory. Take this boarded up building on a corner in Azabu Juban. Today it is overlooked, passed without so much as a glance and probably not long for this world. About five years ago, it was briefly reborn as a tofu "soft cream" shop. But the frozen confection was vile and after a sweet summer of glory, it quietly closed and the corner parcel slipped back into oblivion.
In its heyday, the shop must have serviced the neighborhood's tonsorial needs, judging from the sad looking barber pole above and the weathered, blue-and-red awning below (I doubt the corrugated metal is original). The now shuttered, curving glass show window suggests a more dignified past. Perhaps that kind lady who is still whipping up white bread at the St. Moritz Bakery (another relic up the street) knows the full history.
Whether in Japan or the US, we just don't build elegant windows like this anymore. Construction costs, aesthetics and design abilities have changed. I suppose you could say we don't live like this anymore either. Barbers have been replaced by stylists and here in Juban everyday shops are an endangered species. I am not a hopeless nostalgic but I enjoy urban archeology.