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Urban Archaeology

May 19th, 2003

View from the 9th floor of my school.

The college where I work is located in Shinjuku, about 15 minute’s walk from the JR station. Our building is situated on a large “block,” and the interior of this block used to house a golf driving range and a model home tract. The land was owned by NTV, the television station.

About a year ago, NTV decided that the land was going to waste and they needed some serious income, so they sold the land to the Urban Development Corporation, which presumably will build high-rise apartments there.

However, the site turns out to be a rich archaeology deposit. The first excavation, closer to my school, had remains of the foundation of a yashiki, or country home, for a wealthy Edo-period family. The building was owned by Matsudaira Sado-no-kami, or the Daimyo of Sado, now Ishikawa prefecture; I believe this was the site of their residence while living in the capital Edo.

But the current dig, on the other side of the lot (in photos), has a rich find of 9,000-year-old Jomon pottery, with a WWII bomb shelter thrown in. Some of our classes have visited the site, and we may get more chances still–it looks like the construction of the new buildings will be on hold for a while yet before they get all they can from this valuable dig.

Here is a web page detailing the dig.

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