What’s up Friends!
It’s that time of week for you guys to learn a new word. I think today’s vocabulary is not that random considering my history of living in Chicago. It’s a unique experience being able to compare and contrast things that are present in both countries.
Take a look at the building in this photo. Can you tell what it is? If you guessed government housing or project you are correct!
Today’s word is 団地/だんち/danchi or “group housing/multi-unit housing”. This is the colloquial term, but I’m gonna call a spade, a spade and share the word 公営住宅/こうえいじゅうたく/kōeijūtaku or “public housing”. I feel like this word more accurately describes the nature of the housing. However, for the sake of accuracy I’ll breakdown both words for you.
*Beware: There are multiple readings for any given combination of characters. If you were to encounter these in a different context, the pronunciation may change.
I think the difference between the two words depends strictly on context. There seems to be more formality with second word, it’s use seemingly delegated to official documents or newspapers. I’m sure no one actually says this word in daily conversation.
Anyway, I live in close proximity to a number of projects like the ones in the photo. However, the negative imagery we associate with such housing in the west isn’t so obvious in Japan. Though there are some districts within Tokyo that may have a higher density of projects like these, most of the time 団地 are sprinkled throughout many types of low, mixed, and high income neighborhoods. In fact, I work at a giant school in an affluent neighborhood with a project right across the street but you wouldn’t know it unless you knew what to look for. The most obvious signifier of 団地 is a prominent number placed on the side of the building.
These buildings are remarkably well kept. In fact, the city just finished repainting a few structures about a month ago. Unfortunately, I’ve never been inside of a project in Japan, nor in America, but the atmosphere between the two is drastically different for sure. The grounds typically feature manicured trees, playgrounds for children, and a school or 2 nearby. This complex has about 3 within walking distance.
Well, that’s all I really wanted to point out. Just a cool tidbit of what I see in my day to day life.
Stay tune for tomorrow’s word,