09 March, 2016

Tokyo houses aren't rare

My image of Tokyo before I first came here was of tonnes of sky scrapers. It didn't help that I'd spent time in Singapore, where, it seems most people live in large apartment complexes. I imagined that Tokyo, one of the largest metropolises in the world, would be living vertically. After all, how else do you manage to fit so many people into so little space?

Well the truth is something else entirely. There are a lot of apartments in Japan, but I'd guess that most of them are under 10 stories, probably even under six. We've lived in our different dwellings in Japan, two in Sapporo which were both apartments and neither higher than four stories. 

When we came to live in Tokyo we had three boys and decided that a house was a better idea. Who heard of living in a house in Tokyo?

See the skinny house taking advantage of a strip of
land that would have just been "wasted" in Australia.
We often joke when we're in Australia that Tokyo-ites
would have build several houses on the grassy
verges between houses and the roads there.

Well, as it turns out, lots of people. We've lived in two houses in Tokyo. Our neighbours are all living in houses. Next to us is even a house with just one elderly lady.

I think the key to high population density with low rise buildings is not wasting space. There really is minimal wasted space in this city. Japanese are experts at utilising almost every space imaginable. 

Yesterday I did a "Costco run". It is something I do every couple of months to stock up on various things. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour usually, to drive there, but the distance is under 20km. Along the way I snapped photos of houses I saw (when I was stopped at red lights). I wonder if this will give you something of an impression of what real Tokyo looks like. The houses are compact and use up most of the block. 

I have to emphasise that we don't live in the highest population density area of Tokyo and neither do any of the photos on this post come from those areas. The population density in the inner city areas of Tokyo is around 15,000 people per square kilometre. Our area has "only" 8.980 people per square kilometre. My drive took me west to places as sparse as 3,000 people per square kilometre! As far as I can tell it is hard to find areas in Australia that even come close to this.

Population density map (unfortunately without a key, lighter means more people).
I'm not quite sure what's happening here.  Two separate houses, but one car
parked behind the other. Perhaps these two houses are on the same property
and are owned by an extended family?

Townhouses. But much smaller than Australian townhouses.
They are only one room wide, and, by the look of it
two rooms deep.
A footpath (sidewalk, pavement) is a rare thing. These houses are on a
major road (two lanes each way), hence the footpath.
This house caught my eye because of the sneakers airing/drying on the wall.
With Japan's low crime rate, these shoes are probably pretty safe, even
though the house is just off a high-traffic two-lane road.
Only just enough room left for these cars. These are three separate houses.

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