I have not spent much time in the resurrected city of Hiroshima, but the half an hour walk from the train station to the Peace Memorial Park revealed a city just like any other. In fact, it was really not that memorable. I am not going to go into a description of Hiroshima’s terrifying history and the truly remarkable rebirth, but there is one thing I would like to mention. During the train ride from Osaka to Hiroshima, I noticed a somewhat unique pattern of urban development which crystalized for me when the train reached Hiroshima. Ten to twelve-story massive structures were dispersed throughout a field of mostly residential houses or small businesses no more than two to three stories high. The tall structures densified within and around cities, but never formed a cohesive centralized area as one would expect. Rather, they always stood in isolation, provoking disquiet. The areas looked like cities in a perpetual state of becoming—but never quite there yet.
I can only assume that these repetitive ‘monsters’ are newer housing developments built within the last ten to twenty years. Even though some of these large structures could pass for social housing, most of them appeared to be in great condition, with exterior balconies and large windows. From what I understand, Japan just does not have urban slums, such as those in India, Brazil, or even France. (After a quick search online I found out that the average lifespan of wooden houses in Japan is around twenty years, and concrete ones about thirty. The whole country seems to be in a constant state of renewal.)