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Harajuku Station will be demolished after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

37 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Back in June 2016, East Japan Railway announced it would be rebuilding Harajuku Station ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and while the new design promised a more modern building better able to cope with the huge crowds of commuters in the area, they were yet to make a decision on whether they would be able to preserve the old building or somehow merge it into the facade of the new one.

▼ The old station and its narrow footpath become heavily congested during events, and passengers are set to increase dramatically during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

harajuku-station-demolition-tokyo-olympics-news-japan.jpg

Now, after three years of consultations with local retail associations and Shibuya Ward, where the station is located, JR East has come to a decision over the fate of the near-century-old building, and the conclusion they’ve reached is that the old station needs to be demolished.

While the building, which was built in 1924 in a European style, is Tokyo’s oldest wooden station and a historic landmark, the structure itself isn’t sufficiently fire-resistant, and therefore needs to be taken away for safety reasons.

A JR East representative said, “There were people who voiced opinions over wanting to preserve its long history, but for safety reasons the decision was made to demolish the building”.

The wooden building will be torn down after the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and replaced with a new one currently being built adjacent to it, with the grand opening scheduled for March 21 next year. While the new station will take over operations when it opens, the final completion date for works at the site is scheduled for Aug 31, 2021, a year after the Olympic Games.

While the old station building will disappear from the landscape, JR East says it will honor the former structure by using fire-resistant materials to recreate its European look as much as possible in the new building. However, plans for the new modern-looking two-story structure, which include a new entrance on the Meiji Jingu side of the station, show a building that looks worlds away from the original.

he-2.png

People in Japan were saddened to hear news of the fate of Harajuku Station’s beloved old facade, leaving comments like:

“Noooo! This is such a tragedy!”

“It’s always sad when history becomes a secondary consideration.”

“As the station closest to Meiji Jingu shrine, the old station building was perfectly suited for the historic location.”

“I’m crying for Japan.”

“Can’t they carefully dismantle it and move it to another location?”

“The option of relocation is a must!”

While JR East has made no mention as to whether or not the building will be preserved and relocated, which has been the case for a number of historic buildings in Japan’s past, many people are now holding on to the hope that the building won’t be simply torn down and completely lost forever.

And given all the changes that the capital is currently seeing as new buildings pop up all over Shibuya ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, ensuring old Japan continues to thrive with the new is increasingly becoming an important issue.

Source: Jin

Read more stories from SoraNEws24.

-- Shibuya Station 2019: one step closer to the Neo-Tokyo of our dreams

-- JR East to introduce numbering system at all stations in Tokyo

-- East Japan Railway abolishes skirts, ribbons in women’s uniforms to “eliminate gender difference”

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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History should be preserved where appropriate, yet that place has served it purposes many decades ago and is a potential firetrap!

Either move it, or find another location to build a new station!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I am sorry to be negative, but what an unimaginative, bland, nondescript design the replacement station is. Too bad they can't move the new station a few meters south and restore the old station and repurpose it as a teahouse, visitor center or what not. If fireproofing is their excuse, there are ways to fix that problem. As it is, the land is too narrow for a station. They should borrow some of the park entrance to make a real station. I am not against progress, but it just seems that we are destroying too much history when remodeling for continued use is a viable option, especially for a beloved structure such as this.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Even if it is necessary, a city losing its personality is very sad.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Look, anyone that has been to Harajuku Station on a weekend knows that the current station needs to be replaced. That truth cannot be avoided. It's not just that it has fire safety issues, the size and layout cause major congestion issues.

However, that said, I want to echo @hooktrunk2 said. The proposed new station design is horrendous. Maybe suitable for some nameless train station somewhere else, but not as a replacement for Harajuku Station. Surely they could incorporate some of the elements of the old station into the new station, at least in spirit, to give it some character!!

I remember when they were busy rebuilding the Marunouchi area, including the Central Post Office. They tried to do that so that at least there was a connection to the past, to the history that was the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station.

Surely they can do better than this bland modern blob structure!!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@mitoguitarman

yes indeed, but the whole Harajuku/Omotesando area has been in the process of that for years. back in the 90's Omotesando was interesting, lots of quirky little shops and nooks and crannies, on a human scale... then the Brand-Palaces moved in, and personality moved out (of course they retained a token bit of the Aoyama Apartments). even Takeshita-dōri now has a glossy glass-and-concrete-style building (with famous-brand shops) on the corner of Meiji-dōri, probably the first of many such buildings there. the ethos that created 'hip' Harajuku will simply re-surface elsewhere, and the cycle will repeat itself.... in the interests of the new purpose of human existence: shopping.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

At least keep the old structure and incorporate it into the new.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

That's a shame. Was the current building destroyed during WW2 and rebuilt after? If not, how many buildings are there in Tokyo that have survived as long as this one has? It's a bit kitschy but it has character and I'm sure that whatever the problems are with this building and the site, the officials wouldn't have looked at it too hard trying to find a solution that would have preserved the station building in some way, even if it meant using it for some other purpose. If they were going to replace it with something genuinely imaginative and different, it might be worth it, but:-

JR East says it will honor the former structure by using fire-resistant materials to recreate its European look as much as possible in the new building.

Judging by the illustration of what the new building is going to look like, this statement from JR is just another piece of corporate BS.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It needs to go. It’s like a one room school house trying to serve a state university of 30,000 students.

They got by during the week but the weekend was torture.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I remember, many years ago, my cousin and his wife taking me there to show me the quaint Tudor style architecture of the station . . . . It would be nice if they could keep some memory of it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Move it to Meiji-Mura open air buildings museum near Inuyama.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a charming looking train station!

Wouldn't it be best to at least professionally move station elsewhere and preserve it as an antique or museum?

Once you throw it away, it's gone forever.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Either move it, or find another location to build a new station!

this makes absolutely no sense. this isn't some mobile home that you can suddenly pick up and transport easily to some magical new location.

and you mean to find another location to build Harajukiu station? uh...where? the whole problem is that harajuku station is a wooden death trap and too small to handle the hourdes of tourists that descend upon it now.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It’s an interesting comparison in those before and after photos. They removed all the people from the after shot. Will they be able to do that in real life?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@nakanoguy01

Moving old beloved buildings is nothing new. Amazingly, it is done more frequently than you may choose to believe. As for the location, look at google maps, I think if it weren't for it visually blocking the Meji Jingu Torii, they would hover the new station over the car entrance to the park, closer to Olympic Bridge and create a bigger roundabout on the backside of said station where the current drop off for the park is near Cafe Mori no Terrace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I love this old station, it seems charmingly out of place. But it does get so busy, I can understand the need to refurb/rebuild. Hopefully it can be moved and re-purposed as some here have suggested.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Terrible news. I would have hoped history would have overcome the decision and instead efforts to keep it safe instead were planned

2 ( +3 / -1 )

the way that photo at the top is shot, it looks like the docomo tower in the background is a tall spire on top of the station. i had to zoom in to realize that it wasn't a cathedral style roof

0 ( +0 / -0 )

this makes absolutely no sense. this isn't some mobile home that you can suddenly pick up and transport easily to some magical new location.

and you mean to find another location to build Harajukiu station? uh...where? the whole problem is that harajuku station is a wooden death trap and too small to handle the hourdes of tourists that descend upon it now.

Historic buildings are taken apart and moved all the time, "guy". They can put it in a park or other historic area that gets less foot traffic.

Heck, just move it 100 meters away and problem solved.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Historic buildings are taken apart and moved all the time, "guy". They can put it in a park or other historic area that gets less foot traffic.

Heck, just move it 100 meters away and problem solved.

That's right. Engineers are moving an entire stone tower at Hirosaki Castle 100 metres so they can work on repairing the foundations. Then they're going to put it back again. If that can be done with a 300 year old three-storey stone tower, why can't they move a relatively light 95 year old timber structure?

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-34149758/japan-s-moving-castle-in-40-secs

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Relocate and preserve it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry, Hirosaki is 400 years old!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pedestrian flow and safety are important and will be addressed, but I'm sure the awful volume of the new station is more about JR wanting to profit from in-station shops. They see all these young consumers passing through and they can hardly make a yen off them now because there is no room for shops. That's a tragedy for them. So the beautiful outside spaces and large trees behind the station will be given over to more retail.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Historic buildings are taken apart and moved all the time, "guy". They can put it in a park or other historic area that gets less foot traffic.

Heck, just move it 100 meters away and problem solved.

BigYenToday  10:38 am JST

That's right. Engineers are moving an entire stone tower at Hirosaki Castle 100 metres so they can work on repairing the foundations. Then they're going to put it back again. If that can be done with a 300 year old three-storey stone tower, why can't they move a relatively light 95 year old timber structure?

And will the castle be operating and open to hordes of the public during that move project? Which is going to take how long? Should the Yamanote be shut down while the move happens? Or just this station, while it is carefully disassembled to be reassembled elsewhere?

I think it could be "re-created" without using the original wood, stairways, platforms, etc. That might be a responsible compromise. Or better, the original facade (the only good part of the current station) could be reflected in an more aesthetically pleasing new station.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei Park would be the ideal place for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That station is dangerous when crowded

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei Park would be the ideal place for it.

Except that it's not Edo-era, which is kind of the point of that park.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sell it to the Chinese for the same cost as the new station.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I agree with the posters above about the problems with the existing building and the new design.

What I do not readily accept is throwaway statements like

and passengers are set to increase dramatically during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

So somehow all these Olympics people are going to come to Tokyo, they are not going to displace anyone who would normally be coming during the school holidays and booking out the hotels, and they are going to converge on Harajuku, not those shiny new stadia where the Olympics are actually being held, resulting in a dramatic (their word, not mine) increase for Harajuku. The idea that the Olympics must mean far more people everywhere in Tokyo, including places popular with teens and people in their twenties, strikes me as nonsense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo, including places popular with teens and _people in their twenties, strikes me as nonsense.

This area is definitely not only popular with teens and people in the their twenties but with tourists of all ages. If you mean Takeshita -Dori, yes but Harajuku is crowded because of the national shrine imo.

The Meiji Shrine is right at the station along with Omotessando. The courses in travel guides for the Olympics start at Harajuku, goes down Omotesando, turns left at Aoyama-Dori, goes past Gaienmae and takes you to the destination, the new Olympic stadium.

Historic buildings are taken apart and moved all the time, "guy". They can put it in a park or other historic area that gets less foot traffic.

What architectural value does it have? it really is just a structure with a faux Tudor facade. It is barely even a building. The entrance has about 6 ticket gates and a narrow walk to a bridge over the tracks. That's it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

replaced with a new one currently being built adjacent to it

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Harajuku+Station/@35.6701231,139.7025377,137a,35y,125.98h/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x560d87a8e2d1d3d2!8m2!3d35.6702285!4d139.7026976?hl=fr-FR

(You can recognize the alone tree and the bridge from the simulation picture.)

So well they have no need to remove the old one. They just do not want to bother upgrading it to be on match with fire regulation and convert it in information center/shop/... and/or are afraid people will be more interested in going there (picture, waiting for friends, ...) than hanging in the plain boring new station.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mover it into the park and use it as a tea house or restaurant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And will the castle be operating and open to hordes of the public during that move project? Which is going to take how long? Should the Yamanote be shut down while the move happens? Or just this station, while it is carefully disassembled to be reassembled elsewhere?

Actually the Hirosaki castle grounds are staying open while this particular piece of engineering is performed, but to keep the discussion on Harajuku, the disruption at Harajuku itself is going to happen anyway, unless you think an entirely new station can be built with no inconvenience to travellers. Same goes for the Yamanote, if the line suffers delays or whatever, that's going to be the same whether the entire old building is bulldozed or whether some care is taken in disassembling it to be moved somewhere else. It might be that to carefully disassemble the old station might take a little more time than just to obliterate it, but probably not that much more - and given the reactions of locals as in the article, and in the comments here, I reckon a lot of people would be happy enough for that extra delay to happen. Compared to the construction of an entire new station, demolition is always going to be by far the quickest part of any rebuilding. And the new construction doesn't have to wait for the old building to be reassembled somewhere else, the old building can wait until everything else is done.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

About time they rebuild this place. Love going to Harajuku and Yoyogi park. But I'd rather walk to both places all the way from Shibuya station than going through that hell of Harajuku station.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

tajNov. 21  12:25 pm JST

The Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei Park would be the ideal place for it.

Except that it's not Edo-era, which is kind of the point of that park.

I take it you haven't been there then, because it's not.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

https://www.tatemonoen.jp/english/restore/intro/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another glass + steel monstrocity.... sad

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is why you go to the next stop and walk a few minutes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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