Seki is a small city in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Its economy is based upon a long tradition of blade making and cormorant fishing along the nearby Nagara River.
I've spent eight months in Seki, working as an ESL teacher together with my fiancée. What immediately caught my attention were the great amount of old, diminished or run down buildings. I often couldn't tell if people were still living in them, or how could they actually live in such consumed dwellings. I'd set off to explore the city whenever I could, purposely wandering with my camera, fascinated to document what was otherwise, at its very worst, falling into ruins.
A portion of an abandoned duplex right in front of my apartment.
A very modest private home, right up my street. Notice the fancy blue roof tiles in stark contrast compared to the rest of the structure. Old kanji written in red, to the right, roughly translates: "Vehicle entry forbidden".
I later realized that it used to be old custom for the Japanese to demolish the homes of their ancestors once these passed away. They'd never live surrounded by the same walls of their dead, and would build a home from scratch before moving into the same lot. Houses have therefore been designed with easy demolition and reconstruction in mind. This makes sense, also considering frequent earthquakes. The average lifespan of a traditional home is between twenty to fifty years at most. Modern apartment buildings have broken this tradition, but still follow easy replacement principles.