JR plan to DESTROY Today's Harajuku Station
Japan Railway East announced it will renovate the current Harajuku station (built in 1924) into a modern (and cheap!) looking concrete block as below.
We are AGAINST this plan.
The much of uniqueness and attractiveness of Japan comes from its beautiful old buildings.
In Japan we witnessed the old buildings were torn down and "renovated" to boring concrete complexes as you see anywhere in the world.
These renovations are done under the name of earthquake risk prevention and convenience for foreign travelers expected for 2020 Tokyo Olympic. But the key purpose is just to accommodate more business. As the shrinking population, the train company looks at their sale from train going down and wants to increase their real estate business and hotel business. Renovation plans cover not only Harajuku but many other stations like Shinbashi, Shinanomachi etc.
Japan lost many unique places due to the decision to put business before the attractiveness of scenery. Japan repeats the same.
In our humble personal opinion... Well, Japan, if you want to keep attracting more foreign tourists, you must pay more respect to your old and unique style buildings. Only some cities like Kyoto, which heavily depend on tourism, started paying attention for the scenery protection in recent years.
Management of Train companies
Business environment changes (and changes so fast these days) and all business needs to change to earn based on the change.
Public transport such as train business has so much impact on the society which forms/deforms cities and lead the flow of people. This has been why biggest train corporations are often government owned in many countries. This also means the business is quite stable compare to other kind of business.
We saw the train companies kill the local business often. Once the train company builds a commercial building on the train station, basically no other business can compete for the convenience. Who wants to walk for even 5 mins to buy things from a local supermarket when there is one inside the train station?
We understand the management of train companies these days. Not all of them are in a good shape due to the shrinking population. If we were in the train company, we would have thought of the same way to survive like saying "hey, we have the train station. Let us build the big commercial district on it with supermarket, hotel, cafe etc. !".
Yet, train companies need to be aware of its social cause and acts in a way which would pump the energy to the local economies rather than kill. And probably this is where the government needs to control a bit even.
Even Kyoto still has prob too
Even in Kyoto (where we used to live), there were controversial decisions, for example, today the JR Kyoto station, which looks like boring concrete shopping mall, was once the station with taste. We remember Kamogawa river was full of smelly mud full of garbage for a long time where no fish could live and in just some last decade the city tried to clean up the river and now we see more people and fishes are back. Yet, the recent news reported that Shimogamo shrine plans to rent out its area for tall apartments to be built.
Safety first but Must be a way...
In the time of frequent earthquake, the safety of people is critical. We understand that the buildings need more anti-earthquake system and so, then, just do so in a way it will not destroy the beautiful old buildings. Japan should have enough expertise to make that happen.
How to Save Harajuku Station?
If you agree with our opinion, please SHARE this or Tag #SaveHarajukuStation #原宿駅の建て替え計画反対 to raise awareness of this problem.
Not sure if can bring any impact but we wanted at least to voice this for Japan. Whether agreeing with our view or not, thank you for reading this.
Source: Wikipedia for Photo and JR for the new Harajuku station image
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