Danchi 団地
by Cody Ellingham
sound ON

Danchi Dreams

Danchi Dreams

Photographic Series by Cody Ellingham

The afternoon sky is waning.
The hour strikes 5PM and a short melody rings out over the loudspeaker with an eerie echo.

I am standing alone before a complex of Danchi, Japanese public housing apartments.

Row upon row of identical numbered buildings reach into the distance, their fluorescent lights flicker to life and illuminate the stark concrete.

Danchi emerged across Japan in the 1960s to cope with rapidly growing urban populations.
From 3 and 4 story buildings on the edges of cities, to massive clusters of 15-story blocks complete with schools, shops, and playgrounds, the concrete communities of Danchi replaced the wood and dirt of Old Japan.

Danchi were not just housing projects but were a dream for many, something to aspire to.
They were a vision of a harmonious life and Japan’s new found prosperity.

Half a century later Danchi are in decay.

The concrete symbol of Japan’s economic miracle and post-war identity are slowly being forgotten and some are already gone.

I photographed Danchi at night, the time of dreams. I visited over 40 complexes and observed both the signature of decline, and also the promise of that original dream however slight.

– Cody Ellingham

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cityLab (The Atlantic)
Spoon & Tamago
Fast Company
Design Boom


If you are interested in purchasing a print edition from Danchi Dreams please send an email to cody@codyellingham.com


Danchi Dreams was first exhibited in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa in Tokyo's Old district in May 2018.

We converted an old factory building from the same era as Danchi into a gallery for 1 week, including a visual and soundscape installation and large photographic prints.

Danchi Dreams: Photobook

Danchi Dreams: A Photobook Exploring the Dream
and Decay of Modern Japanese Public Housing Architecture.

This project was successfully funded on kickstarter
in June 2018. The photobook has now completel sold out.

First edition of the photobook is limited to 300 copies.

Featuring a foreword by Darran Anderson, author of Imaginary Cities.

Dimensions: 355mm x 241mm (14" x 9.5")

Hardcover: 92 pages

ISBN: 978-986-96223-8-7
Language: English

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Born (1991) and raised in Hawkes Bay, Cody Ellingham grew up exploring the mountains and rivers that define the New Zealand landscape. Ellingham studied Japanese literature and language at Victoria University of Wellington and completed an exchange programme to Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo in 2012.

It was during this first year in Japan that Ellingham’s fascination with photography emerged while travelling through Northern Japan after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami that devastated the region. In the town of Otsuchi-Cho in Iwate he volunteered with other students in the summer festival that followed a winding course through the empty streets of the town that had been washed away. Cody took the chance to photograph the foundations of houses and shops that no longer existed, exposing a deep connection between time and place that he has continued to explore.

His first series DERIVE was featured internationally and exhibited in Tokyo.

Cody Ellingham