From old traditions under threat, to astonishing historial finds, you told us how the city is changing
Our Guardian Tokyo Week has touched on everything from unauthorised picnics to underground rap battles between businessmen. We explored in depth whether next year’s Olympics can live up to the 1964 games, how Tokyo is bracing itself for its next once-in-a century earthquake, and how life is changing for women in the city.
We asked you for your thoughts on how the city’s changed, and for your comments on our coverage.
Tokyo is changing, but not for the better. Many old, beautiful traditions are dying out. Young people aren’t upholding them. English is infiltrating and the result is not good – the Japanese language is chock full of random, annoying English words.
Mass immigration will be the nail in the coffin. Japan will be ‘globalised’ and its traditions relegated to tourist spots. Why do we want Tokyo to be like London? What is so great about Tokyo ‘finally opening up’? The whole world is becoming a homogenous lump. Where will the tourists go then?”
The canals, sea, and rivers below the railway were inundated with concrete and landfill, and a centuries-old field of seaweed destroyed. Water stagnated, sludge emerged, and sea life perished. Estuaries turned into cesspools and/or were transformed into roads. The tramway system was virtually destroyed in favor of freeways and cars became dominant. Clearance of living things saw hundreds of thousands of homeless cats and dogs killed by the state. As with all very rapid, massive modernizations, from the US through the Soviet Union to China, this transformation was achieved through violence; in this case, the horror of war and its detritus, followed by preferential Cold-War terms.”
After several plans to build a new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo had been cancelled, the embarrassment was redeemed by an almost happy ending. In July of 2020, the New National Stadium, a ship, anchored under Odaiba’s Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo became the first host of an era of a newfound Olympic spirit.”
Japanese academia is much more open to non-Japanese professors than it used to be. Tokyo itself is diverse and exciting and this is a great time to be working in the city. Numbers of international students are rising sharply (because of demographic decline, universities are increasingly looking abroad). Most international students are still from elsewhere in Asia, although US/UK/Europe numbers are rising.”
Your article about the aging population of Tokyo’s suburban housing estates was very informative. I think it would be beneficial to the series if you contrast this phenomenon with the renaissance some more central public housing estates are experiencing due to the influx of immigrant families ( Chinese in Kawaguchi, Indian/ Bangladeshi in Ojima, Koto-ku and Kasai, Edogawa-ku). By also featuring these places, I think you’d give the reader a more balanced picture of the changes Tokyo’s population is experiencing.”
Take for instance the old ‘Habutae Dango’ that was located near Nippori Station with its 200-year-old history as a tea house and dango (sweet dumpling shop), a favourite haunt of the poet Masaoka Shiki and the author Natsume Soseki, and repository of a few Shogitai relics from the 1868 Battle of Ueno. Each time I visited Tokyo I would make a point of visiting to enjoy their dango and matcha green tea whilst at the same time contemplating the wonderful garden view available only to patrons only to find on my visit in 2018 that it had become a building site.”Continue reading...