DANCHI DREAMS tells the story of modernity in Japan through an exploration of public housing projects known as ‘Danchi’. Danchi public housing projects emerged across Japan in the 1960s to cope with rapidly growing urban populations. From three and four storey buildings on the edges of cities, to massive clusters of 15-storey blocks complete with schools, shops, and playgrounds, the concrete communities of Danchi replaced the wood and dirt of Old Japan.
These structures were a vision of a harmonious life and Japan’s new found prosperity. Danchi were not just housing projects, but a dream – something to aspire to. People yearned to live in the modern life of Danchi and to leave behind the cold and noisy wooden houses that had come before.
Somewhere along the path to modernity the connection with the old way of life disappeared entirely, but it did not seem to matter. Half a century later Danchi are in decay. The concrete symbol of Japan’s economic miracle and post-war identity are slowly being forgotten and some are already gone.
I photographed Danchi at night, the time of dreams.
Concrete does not last forever and cracks are showing. We see our own weakness in the strength of concrete, but the truth is that it too is incredibly fragile. When exposed to the passage of time it will return to sand as soon as we to ashes.
There are cypress trees that were standing before the first Danchi was ever built, and will still be there after the last Danchi is gone.
About Cody Ellingham
Cody Ellingham is a 27-year-old photographer and art director based in Tokyo, Japan. He grew up on the East Coast of New Zealand in a small town near the mountains.
His photography is primarily landscape and architectural, with a deep nostalgia for places locked in time. The aging skyscrapers of the city and the Arcadian forests of the mountain are both alike in that they are only a fragment of a myth that never was.