Here, starting in the 1970s and growing along with the infamous Bubble Economy of the 1980s, a former working class neighbourhood and student ghetto were razed to make way for a new generation of skyscrapers and international hotels.
Not everyone likes what’s happened to the old neighbourhood. Keizo Hino describes the area in his story, “Jacob’s Tokyo Ladder:”
Some particularly grand skyscrapers… were built in the latter half of the sixties and into the seventies, during the flood tide of rapid growth, and are nothing less than massive parallelpipeds, constructed with absolutely straight lines and planes, utterly without embellishment or a light touch. The steel shells of these buildings are massive and the walls thick as fortress walls, and even the relatively small rectangular windows, fitted with tempered glass from top to bottom, are set in perfect alignment vertically and horizontally.
One building, in particular, the head office of a bank, has massive walls, all a dark taupe, making it look as if the whole edifice had been carved out of a mountain of volcanic rock. This night particularly, its dampish walls were almost black. They were far darker than the night sky — purple-tinged with a blush of pink — over the heart of the city.
The Bubble has burst long since, but today architect Kenzo Tange’s computer-chip-inspired Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building still towers over the area.
Later additions, signs of the times, are the homeless-proof gratings over sidewalk-level exhaust vents, and smokers shoaled at public ashtrays in out-of-the-way corners at the base of the buildings.