Kyoto university has the last old-fashioned wooden dorm, a decrepit structure where Ethernet cable strung on the decrepit supports overhang robotics students working on the shattered floor.
Nearly a century old, and looking every day of it, Yoshida-ryo is very likely the last remaining example of the once common Japanese wooden university dormitory. This building was built in 1913. Organized from the very beginning to be self-administering through a dormitory association (å¯®è‡ªæ²»ä¼š), the students themselves have been responsible for selecting new applicants for residency. This autonomy, however, came under full-scale assault in 1971, when the Ministry of Education began a policy of regulating or closing dormitories, which were seen as "hotbeds for various kinds of conflict." University authorities first tried to close Yoshida-ryo completely in 1979, and after failing to overcome opposition over the next 10 years finally closed the Western Yoshida-ryo across the street.
With the death of Japan's violent student activism, the campaign to close the dormitory subsided for a time, but in the aftermath of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake there were new calls to replace the poorly aged building, which had already seen its maintenance neglected for decades by a university that had wanted to demolish it.
At present, the future of the dormitory is unclear. While residents have performed some minor upgrades over the years, such as the haphazard stringing of Ethernet cables through the halls to each room, they have only recently begun discussing the possibility of performing serious repairs themselves. There has even been some discussion of bypassing the university and applying for historical building preservation funds, although the building may be considered too far gone for proper restoration, particularly while still being lived in.
(Image: Roy Berman/CNNGo)