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Can you help me identify this building?
December 2, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me identify this building?

Here's the picture.

This is a scanned postcard. I believe it is from the 1940s or 1950s. If I were to guess, I'd say this building is in Japan -- Tokyo, perhaps -- but I can't be sure.
posted by nitsuj to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Definitely Japan, based on the signs visible in the background.
posted by illenion at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2012


It looks like it has some kind of radio apparatus on the roof — maybe a simple air/sea emergency antenna plus some kind of early radar?
posted by scruss at 5:01 PM on December 2, 2012


I should note that I don't speak Japanese or Chinese, but from my limited knowledge and ability to see given the resolution, I don't see any characters that make it definitively Japan and not China.
posted by threeants at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2012


No, it's definitely Japan, based on the hiragana on the tower to the left of the large building.
posted by dd42 at 5:47 PM on December 2, 2012


Driving on the left hand side strongly indicates Japan too. Lots of trams in Japan, so that doesn't help any.
posted by wilful at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2012


Definitely Japan. I suspect it's a department store, but there's no legible signage.
posted by adamrice at 6:23 PM on December 2, 2012


No, it's definitely Japan, based on the hiragana on the tower to the left of the large building.

Ah, yep, sorry. I can recognize those as Japanese but didn't catch them visually!
posted by threeants at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2012


The vehicle in the right front looks pre-WWII, with that split rear window.
posted by easily confused at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2012


I see "Pyle" on a building in the background to the right, which bears a resemblance to the Ernie Pyle Theater in Tokyo.
posted by sageleaf at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Completely stumped by this one. Does it have any characters or writing on the reverse side?
posted by anewnadir at 9:26 PM on December 2, 2012


Tokyo suffered severe bomb damage as we all know, and wasn't into making a lot of postcards of buildings immediately post-war, so I would date it to the late 30s.
posted by wilful at 10:34 PM on December 2, 2012


I think you're onto something there, sageleaf, with the Ernie Pyle Theater. That confirms the date to mid 1940s-mid 1950s and this card is likely an artifact of post-war Allied occupation. Also, that puts this building somewhere in Chiyoda ward.
posted by illenion at 10:38 PM on December 2, 2012


Oh here we go! Ginza Toshiba Building.
posted by illenion at 10:42 PM on December 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


The Toshiba building is at the Sukiyabashi crossing (huge scramble crossing) in Ginza, and I just remembered that I was at that intersection earlier this year. I checked to see if I took any photos while I was there, and found this video that I must have accidentally taken. Weird coincidence!
posted by illenion at 11:08 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, so that bridge behind the building is Sukiyabashi (Sukiya Bridge) when it was really a bridge. I've never seen this photograph before! The vertical sign to the left of the building says "Matsuda Shinkukan (vacuum tubes)," which was apparently a Toshiba product from the 1930s to the 1960s, and the Toshiba Building was called the Matsuda Building before. Further back I see a "beer hall."

Found some more pics of the building from different angles. The first picture was apparently taken in 1934 (Showa 9) from the moat side, where the pine tree can be seen in your pic. The third pic taken from the roof is the roof of the Matsuda Building. The second picture (painting) is from 3 years before the Matsuda Building was built, so it's still not shown (the small park on the left side is where the building will be built).

This was fun!
posted by misozaki at 11:32 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'm amazed this was tracked down, considering how different the building looks today. Great job, and thanks!
posted by nitsuj at 5:33 AM on December 3, 2012


It's June 2013, and I'd just like to add that the newer building is gone now and the lot is currently under construction.
posted by misozaki at 4:52 PM on June 13, 2013


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