“I am a ruin myself, wandering among ruins”*…
Japan is in some sense uniquely blessed as a land of ruins. Its rapidly aging population, low birth rate, urbanization and lack of immigration have left a legacy of ghost towns and more than 8 million abandoned homes, or akiya. That tally could hit 21.5 million, one-third of all residences nationwide, by 2033, according to the Nomura Research Institute.
Abandoned homes are ubiquitous in rural Japan, posing health and safety hazards to locals, but they can even be found in central Tokyo, vacant edifices that for whatever reason owners refuse to demolish and rebuild.
In addition to the scourge of abandoned homes, Japan is dealing with lingering effects of the asset-inflated bubble economy of the 1980s and 1990s that saw the construction of numerous hotels, theme parks and other leisure facilities that went bust when the bubble burst. Some money-losing facilities, including the ill-fated Canadian World in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido, themed on the popular “Anne of Green Gables” novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, were rehabilitated into public parks. But in all too many cases, others were left to rot…
More on the “ghost towns” of Japan at “The lure of Japan’s mysterious ruins.”
* Heinrich Heine
As we keep our ear peeled for echoes, we might we might send majestic 100th birthday greetings to the U.S. National Park Service; it was founded on this date in 1916.