Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Falling down houses

One of the things I was surprised about when I first started living in the Japanese countryside were the number of houses that were literally falling down like the one in these pictures. After some "research" I was told that it is so costly to dispose of the building materials of the houses and the land is so cheap and plentiful around here that most people just leave houses to rot back into nature and build a brand new one next door rather than going to the trouble of pulling it down. There are also many houses around our area that are no longer lived in, but that will never be sold - mainly because it is the "family house" and therefore contains the Buddhist altar etc. (which can actually be moved, but is not often done). There is also little demand for the houses and there is always the vague hope that someone from the family will return from the big city and choose to live in the countryside.
Back to the house in the picture... every day I drive past this house when I go to get the children from school. If you look carefully you will see that it was once a 2-storied house, but the top story has basically fallen through the first floor. If you look even more closely (you really need to be there in person to do this) you will see that there are many things still inside the house. If you look even more closely at night time you will see that the lights are on and that there are actually people living in there. My husband is currently working in the "welfare" department so I often ask him about it and he says that they have tried to find alternative accommodation for the occupants, but they refuse to shift. It turns out that they have lots of gambling debts... from pachinko! Yet another reason to stay away from the big, noisy, smokey, bright pachinko parlours!


  1. OMG - people live there!! Some people chasing away from the yakuza wannabes live in Steven's old house - the one that used to be the wedding reception hall!!

  2. that's just so so sad. :(

  3. Wow, you could have written that about my neighbourhood! We have 4 buildings on our land other than the house we live in. We looked into having a couple removed and the recycling fees are horrendous. It's not working though as- like you said- people either just let them collapse or they bury everything- there is an old shop buried under my carpark- I think it was a law that had good intentions but didn't work out quite how it was intended...

  4. Oh I know that house! I can't BELIEVE someone's living in it!

    I went into one once many many years ago in Sanko, and found a Japanese flag, shh don't tell...I got all my friends to sign it, WWII style, and it ended up on my brother's wall in NZ