Kawaramachi Housing Complex – Kawasaki, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Kawaramachi Housing Complex

This Metabolist, retro-futuristic residential complex resembles a cyberpunk space colony established on Earth. 


In Japan, danchi is often a large cluster of apartment buildings that can be found everywhere due to the country’s limited space compared to its high population. While most danchi look pretty standard and alike, some are anything but ordinary and have decidedly unusual designs. An example of the latter can be found in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa, just across the Tama River from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.

Constructed in 1972 by Metabolist architect Yukio Ōtani, the Kawaramachi Housing Complex is known for its inverted Y-shaped buildings, with colonnades resembling the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer. In total, there are 15 buildings on the site of a former “mammoth-scale” factory complex, comprising most of the Kawaramachi district.

Due to the building’s height, the lower levels naturally receive less sunlight than the upper floors, and the iconic inverted shape was designed to prevent this. At its height, the Kawaramachi Housing Complex was home to more than 20,000 people. It also contained an elementary school, in addition to a small shopping arcade and post office. Its residents aren’t as many today, but there is said to be at least 3,000 to 4,000 families living there.

Know Before You Go

Approximately a 20 minute walk from Kawasaki Station. Keep in mind that this is a residential area where quite a few people live.

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March 20, 2020

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