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Talk of architecture in Japan tends to head in one of two directions — the very, very new (as in the mind-bending flagship stores for fashion brands in Ginza), or the very, very old (as in temples dating back centuries). So what, exactly, happened in between?

Well, if you’re talking about Tokyo, two catastrophes are what happened: The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the Allied bombings during World War II. The former wiped the slate clean, if you like, for a rush of inner-city reconstruction mostly in stone and brick, while the latter whittled those projects down — to the strongest and the luckiest.

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