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Fate of Tokyo's original capsule tower hangs in balance

Threatened building is a monument to Japan's Metabolist architecture

The Nakagin Capsule Tower has captured the imagination of many architects, artists, designers, film directors and musicians. (Courtesy of Shinichi Ito)

TOKYO -- The apartments in the timeworn concrete building have no hot water or cooking stoves, and the windows cannot be opened to let in fresh air. Its structure is asbestos-ridden, threatened with demolition, and covered with a sad-looking net to protect pedestrians against falling debris.

Yet the Nakagin Capsule Tower on the southern fringe of Ginza, one of Tokyo's priciest neighborhoods, is beloved by architects, artists and many others who consider it a priceless monument to a brief but exciting chapter in Japan's architectural history.

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