Secret Japan Series: Danchi 団地 buildings

Danchi 団地 Live like a Japanese city dweller.
Every country has post war, modernist building stock and Japan is no exception. Built in economically booming Japan in the 1950s, through to the 1970s, danchi were a new way of living for Japanese.
Danchi Dreams by Cody Ellingham photographer
Modernist flats sprung up in urban areas across Japan, as the population of their cities rapidly grew. Danchi were aimed at young professionals and families that needed affordable accommodation and were wildly popular.
The only way you can secure a danchi flat is by lottery, with buildings in popular areas often having waiting lists running years even today.  They are still a mixed community of young families, immigrants and the elderly. Most parts of Japan have an older ageing population, but danchi buildings are still a place where you can see intergenerations living side by side.
As in most countries, these modernist symbols of the 20th Century, are now in disrepair and their angular modernist concrete isn’t seen as the future anymore. But there are fans in Japan, trying to turn around the perception of these buildings.
Danchi Dreams is a book by New Zealand photographer Cody Ellingham, which explores these buildings in stunning photographs. Showing them in all their states from Dream, Decline and Decay. This series of photographs captures the modernist architecture with stunning effect.  It makes the perfect gift for architecture lovers, or a beautiful book for yourself.
Kata Kata Katazome Japanese Postcards 
Our very own Kata Kata brand, has a shop in the courtyard of Jindai Danchi built in 1965, located in a suburb of Tokyo. (182-0006東京都調布市西つつじケ丘4-23-35号棟104) It is seeing a revival in it’s fortunes, with cool independent stores moving into the shops. Creating a new community and authenticity Japanese shopping experience.  This is a model of how danchi can and are being brought back to life and appreciated once again.

Yamamoto ice cream Yamamoto Grass fed Milk Shop.

Open: 10:30-17:00 (Closed Tuesdays)

Next door is Yamamoto selling all kinds of Japanese dairy sweet treats and ice cream. Their milk comes from their own farm in Hokkaido, where the cows can graze 24hrs a day. With no chemicals used on the land or hormones given to the animals. As their cows are grass fed only, rather than given grain feed, they believe it is better for you and rich in Omega-3 and 6. But with all the sweet treats they have, it’s easy to loose your way!

Tegamisha cafe in tokyoTegamisha Cafe.
Open: 11:00-17:00 (Closed Monday/Tuesday)
Two doors down on the corner plot is Tegamisha Cafe. Where you can sit looking out at the retro modernist architecture of Jindai Danchi, drinking their home roasted coffee. They also sell cakes, which are a weakness for Kata Kata employees. 

Pole-Pole Japanese textile company

Pole-Pole LAB.

Open: 13:00-18:00 Friday, Saturday & Sunday

Also within the danchi complex is Pole-Pole LAB, a Japanese textile duo that use the space as a gallery and place to sell their unique textile creations. Creating beautiful modern textiles in geometric and textured patterns. Having worked with some big names in fashion, interiors and consulting with fabric mills. Their unique style is modern and fresh, with the danchi being the perfect backdrop to the store.

So next time your in Japan, why not check out a danchi complex near you and discover this brutalist architectures softer side.

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