Published on July 10, 2013

There is an apartment house that had seen history and towns of the Taisho and Showa Periods.

History of Uenoshita Apartment
Uenoshita Apartment is one of apartment houses that were built by Dojunkai Foundation as reconstruction work after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Dojunkai had constructed 16 reinforced concrete apartment houses during a 18 year-period between 1924 and 1941. Uenoshita Apartment was built in 1929 in Shitaya-ku (present-day Higashi Ueno 5-chome, Taito City). It was the sole Dojunkai apartment house with a history of 84 years while other Dojunkai apartment houses had been demolished and reconstructed. However, its reconstruction had been considered since the end of the Showa Period due to its deterioration, and finally it was decided to reconstruct it. Its demolition began in June 2013. It will be rebuilt into a 14-story commercial and residential building in summer of 2015. 
 

Uenoshita Apartment stood quietly facing Kiyosubashi-dori Street, close to Inaricho Station on the Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro. It seemed as if only the apartment house had left unchanged since the early Showa Period. The four-story apartment house's fourth floor jettied out like eaves. The apartment house consisted of two buildings; the first one with stores on the first floor and the second one for residential use. There were a well, washing area and pump in the front garden where you felt like residents were chatting with each other around the well.
The first building had commercial space on the first floor, and its second, third and fourth floors were residential apartments. The second building's first, second and third floors were residential apartments, and its fourth floor had apartments for singles, a shared washing area and bathroom. The buildings were built with a simple and strong concrete structure in preparation for earthquakes after the Great Kanto Earthquake. Large beams made of concrete were also exposed in rooms, but you could feel the modernistic flavor in the Taisho and early Showa Periods from doors, doorknobs, light switches, transoms and lattices that decorated a front window of a meeting room on the first floor.
 

 
  A antique-looking, august light switch
 
There were a large washing area and a pump in the front garden.
The front of the second building. The fourth floor jettied out like eaves.

Window frames of the meeting room had modern decorations.

The front of Uenoshita Apartment

The front entrance

Modern banisters at a staircase landing

 
There were a simple bathroom and kitchen in a room of the residential apartment. The room was small but functionally designed. Although the room was built in Western style, which recalled the flavor of the Taisho Modernism, there were "ranma" transom that was reminiscent of "tokonoma" alcove and a wall-cupboard, so it combined Western and Japanese styles. Residents of Uenoshita Apartment formed a women's association and a children's group, which worked with the neighboring Inagami-cho district association, and community activities were actively carried out. Children participated in radio gymnastic exercises, summer camp by the seaside and in wooded highlands, and neighboring Shitaya Shrine's festivals. Also, they used to play with each other at the large front garden and stairways of Uenoshita Apartment.
However, with deterioration of the the more than 84-year-old buildings, residents had been aging, and replaced with new residents. The community activities conducted by residents of Uenoshita Apartment and neighbors, which formed the "core" of the old commercial district of Tokyo, had gradually stagnated, and people in the community became less associated each other. Therefore, the reconstruction of the apartment house was planned in an effort to ensure a safe and comfortable living environment and to restore the community.
 

A single-family room in the second building. This room was in the building which wings jettied out. It had large windows on three sides, and offered well-ventilated open space. The flared portion of "ranma" transom that functioned as "tokonoma" alcove was decorated with modern design.

A rice bin was placed under the small desk beside the kitchen sink.
Modern contrast between the black lintel and pillars and the white wall

There was a washing area made of concrete on the rooftop.

The view from the rooftop. Potted flowers were also placed on it.


Good old days of Uenoshita Apartment

Uenoshita Apartment children's group: At the window of the meeting room
Uenoshita Apartment women's association: In front of the apartment house
A fire lookout tower viewed from the street in front of Uenoshita Apartment
Paris Barber viewed from Kiyosubashi-dori Street
 
A festive float of Shitaya Shrine: In front of the apartment house

History of Uenoshita Apartment
Uenoshita Apartment is one of apartment houses that were built by Dojunkai Foundation as reconstruction work after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Dojunkai had constructed 16 reinforced concrete apartment houses during a 18 year-period between 1924 and 1941. Uenoshita Apartment was built in 1929 in Shitaya-ku (present-day Higashi Ueno 5-chome, Taito City). It was the sole Dojunkai apartment house with a history of 84 years while other Dojunkai apartment houses had been demolished and reconstructed. However, its reconstruction had been considered since the end of the Showa Period due to its deterioration, and finally it was decided to reconstruct it. Its demolition began in June 2013. It will be rebuilt into a 14-story commercial and residential building in summer of 2015.