1. Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi


The only danchi neighbourhood still standing inside the Yamanote line circle area. Easily accessible from Omotesando station. These danchi are my favourite place in Aoyama district, they form an amazing contrast with nearby trendy shops and overpriced beauty salons. The tube-covered dilapidated sci-fi facades are something to look out for, you won’t see this in other Kanto-area danchi. South part of this project was already demolished and redeveloped into two high-rise apartment blocks. Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi will be fully demolished in 2021 and replaced with a huge commercial building so if you’ll be in Tokyo until then hurry up to catch a glimpse of this gem!

Might be difficult to locate with Google Maps so here is the address: 3-chome-4-15 Kitaaoyama Minato City, Tokyo-to 107-0061





2. Takashimadaira Danchi


This district in Itabashi is distinctly high-rise as it was built in the 1970s when the Japan Housing Corporation was struggling with land prices so it started building this enormous beehives. They are well preserved but there mostly elderly people living there, so the infrastructure around Takashimadaira is mostly catering to their needs. The open access corridors are eerily illuminated with blue lamps so the place is great for night photography with long exposure.





3. Tama New Town


Mecca for retro-housing maniacs. An entire satellite city built in the late 1960s with modernist functional zoning featuring its own train station, shopping plaza, schools and hospitals. They even have a community centre with a small museum dedicated to the history of the project. This settlement is quite famous and is therefore well maintained so you won’t find too many abandoned or dilapidated buildings, however it is an amazing case study for people interested in urban planning. It takes a while to get there from central Tokyo but totally worth spending a day trip on.





4. Tokiwadaira Danchi


This one is for the off-the-path explorers and fans of horror stories. Currently infamous for a high number of lonely deaths inside the apartments, Tokiwadaira Danchi used to be a dream for many young couples in Chiba in the 1960s. The cultural impact of this project was so strong that they dedicated a permanent exhibition to Tokiwadaira's history featuring a full-scale replica of a portion of a standard building containing one furnished apartment at Matsudo city museum nearby. This is the only 1:1 danchi replica in the world, believe it or not. Tokiwadaira is an hour trip from Ueno but after visiting you can drop by the 21 Century Forest right next to it for a very pleasant walk.




Of course, there are hundreds of smaller danchi settlements all around Tokyo, but they not as famous than the above four and are rapidly being demolished. For example, I wanted this list to include Nakano Danchi that I've read about in urban photography forums, however, Google Maps views made me realise it doesn't exist anymore. Tokyo is just very fast and greedy, but don't worry: even if they won't survive in the capital, dilapidating danchi neighbourhoods will be reminding us of their better days in every other prefecture's suburban areas for many years to come.


Your craziest danchi otaku,


TK