by Ewa Nowogorski
Tokyo is a modern city, and although not as posh as some other ultra modern and new cities, it certainly has the ability to reimagine itself and change in the blink of an eye. Buildings can be put up in a matter of weeks, and laws can be changed even faster to make the city a better place.
Ever since the Tokyo 1965 Olympics, Tokyo has committed itself to improving its look and function. And even before that, the constant occurrence of strong earthquakes have constantly forced Tokyo to modify itself for the better. Before 1960, Tokyo looked nothing like what it does today. It looked so different that you would probably not recognize it. It was an ugly sprawl of old wooden houses, scabrous shanties, cheaply constructed stucco buildings and danchi (public housing estates).
During a single decade, between 1950 and 1960, the population of Greater Tokyo swelled by nearly five million inhabitants to 22.6 million and in Tokyo’s 23 wards by nearly three million, to 8.3 million inhabitants. The construction of large, non-wooden buildings increased by 770% between 1953 and 1960 and gradually smaller buildings were replaced by bigger and more profitable ones. Buildings were built closer and closer together, and land became extremely scarce.
Even now Tokyo continues to change, barely preserving its look from just a few decades ago. Constant disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes are motivating engineers to design buildings and structures that can withstand the worst of disasters. In another few years, we will surely again be shocked to see how much more the city will change.