Will 50 Years of History Vanish This Year? Crisis Looms for Shinjuku’s Outlandishly Designed Battleship Mansion | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Will 50 Years of History Vanish This Year? Crisis Looms for Shinjuku’s Outlandishly Designed Battleship Mansion

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A warship apartment in Shinjuku City…according to people who live nearby, few people already live there

A hidden landmark in Shinjuku is facing a secret crisis.


The hidden gem of Shinjuku, resembling a battleship, is quietly facing a crisis. This building, known as the Battleship Mansion, located in Shinjuku’s Okubo district, has been standing for over 50 years. However, talks of its demolition have surfaced this year, drawing renewed attention to its existence.

The rooftop, resembling a battleship’s deck and a defining feature of the building, exudes a unique atmosphere not found in other structures. With its grey exterior and distinctive appearance akin to a battleship’s bridge, the building stands as a relic in Shinjuku, reminiscent of a ruin.

Formally named the GUNKAN Higashi-Shinjuku Building, this structure was completed in 1970 under the names Dai-3 Sky Building and New Sky Building. Designed by Yoji Watanabe, a former army seaman, the building reflects his innovative style, influenced by his background in naval engineering.

In 2011, through renovation, the building underwent changes in its interior, exterior, and name. This 14-story mansion features protruding rooms on each floor, creating a floor plan reminiscent of a shrimp’s tail.

With 150 iron-made residential units attached to Y-shaped corridors on each floor, the building showcases meticulous attention to design, including the installation of water tanks horizontally. Its unique design elements set it apart as a true ‘eccentric’ in the world of ordinary buildings.

How do people in Shinjuku feel about such peculiar architecture? I talked to a 43-year-old man who has lived in Shinjuku for over 20 years and has considered moving into the Battleship Mansion.

“I once looked into renting out of curiosity and checked property listings. It was before the renovation, so the building was even older than it is now. There were no toilets in each room, so I think only those really drawn to the design would consider living there. In my opinion, it’s a mansion used by people who appreciate old architecture, design, and art.”

When it comes to shared toilets, it becomes a property that appeals to a specific type of person. However, considering the historical context of the 1970s when this mansion was built, it’s understandable that the toilets are communal.

During the 2011 renovation, they held an event called Re-Sailing Event, gathering various creators such as photographers, illustrators, and designers for an exhibition. Reports from that time indicated that there were 1,000 attendees, showcasing the building’s popularity despite being a niche event.

Even now, illustrations adorn the walls at the entrance of the mansion, making it a place with a significant presence as a space.

The design is distinctive and was popular when the building was first renovated
A painting at the entrance. It creates a unique atmosphere.
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