Ikimasho!

Shimokitazawa: End of the Line

ImageOn 23 March 2013, the level crossings at Shimokitazawa in Tokyo lifted for the very last time. It was a sad day for anyone who has ever lived in the area.

The Odakyu train line has now gone deep underground, and with it has brought a huge, brand new station that is both sterile and soulless in equal measures. It is not what Shimokitazawa is about, but I guess this is what you call ‘progress’ in the modern age. I often think of my neighbourhood as a village – and the level crossings that dissected it were part of its charm. It was part of old Tokyo, so little of which now still remains.

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To me, these huge pipes always looked like something out of Akira

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Ever since I arrived in Shimo over a year ago, the station has always been a construction site. People often complained about it, but I liked it.

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This entire line is now deep underground. All that remains are the tracks, lifeless.

ImageOn the last night of the Odakyu line being active overground I decided to take my BMX down for a nostalgia trip. I’m glad I did – there were all sorts of people out and about: news crews, train nerds and even some guys doing live video projections onto the shutters of the now-defunct Shimokitazawa market under the station. I took a short video of the cycle from my house to the station, showing some of the projections, and ending with the crossing lifting for one of the last times.

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Lastly, I drew this very quickly as a reminder of the crossings. I only gave myself the time it took for the lights to change… Luckily it was during rush hour🙂

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing stuff like this. I’ve traveled through Japan once and while I saw many crazy and beautiful things, the stuff I miss most now are the little ones. The electronic cuckoo sound of a pedestrian light turning red, the 7/11s (I wanna have those where I live T_T), the huge amount of small stores, getting a hot can of drink from a vending machine… stuff like that. And yes, these railways snaking through the cities are also very Japanese. I can imagine your sentiment about this crossing.

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