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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello

I'm an Edinburgh University Japanese major student currently living in Tokyo on an exchange year studying the language.

An element of my study however is research for my final dissertation. As part of this research I would like to gather various opinions about the development and state of modern Japanese urban landscape. Therefore I come here in the hope that I may be able to obtain some various opinions from those with an active interest in the subject. If anyone would be willing to contribute their thoughts I would be very grateful.

I do have my own opinions about Japan and Japan's urban environments but for the purposes of this research I would prefer to remain objective. However, in order to get a full picture I may wish to prompt opinions on certain aspects.

Please be as honest and critical as you can, I hope to hear your views.

Thanks! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Maybe the following issues could be a start...?

- The distinction between Countryside and Urban landscapes
- Suburban/Inner city areas
- Quality of life
- Overhead cables
- Quality of built environment
- Historical presence
- Parks and natural urban environments
 

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EOS 40D
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I have mixed feelings. Some characteristics are impressive and amazing, some are very traditional (i.e. overhead cables) and sometimes dilapidated.

That is what most large cities are like. There will be amazing things and there will be a less ideal side.
 

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I wish you were more specific, but here are a few thoughts I have:

One thing that is interesting about Tokyo is that while it is the world's most populated metropolis, it is not a Manhattan (nor a Martini :lol: ). If you look around from atop the observation decks of various buildings including but no limited to Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Tower as well as Landmark Tower in Yokohama, or other high places even such as Ferris Wheels, you will see a lot of compact developments that are midrise at best. While the land premium is not unique to Tokyo/Japan, the way they avoid going tall in large numbers is noitced. This is changing, hey, I live a short walk away from the Musashi-Kosugi redevelopment, I know a guy living in one of the recent Shinonome re-developments, but the urban landscape really tends to hug the ground outside Chiyoda-ku and Shinjuku-ku. I take the Nambu Line to work, it has an interesting view looking towards Tokyo from the Kawasaki side of the Tama River. Shinjuku sticks out like a sore thumb because it is almost the only thing besides that Yoyogi clock-tower-thingy (NNT's?) and Mark City Shibuya that is actually tall.

Transportation is a particularly interesting piece of Japan's urban landscape. In Tokyo's case, partly with its road network to blame, it has a certain dichomity with most of its commuter rail lines being excellent in speed and profitability while most of its subway lines are slow and sometimes extremely indirect (Hibiya Line, Ginza Line). The system suffers from over-centrilization as well (Ootemachi/Nihonbashi, Nagatachou/Kokkaigijidoumae), but its coverage is very extensive with short station spacing in both subway and commuter networks.

One thing that I can appreciate here in comparison to my hometown (Toronto, Canada) is the high degree of government control at the local level - it is quite visible, and I'd say it pays off. Sometimes it is a shocking transition crossing the street (or tracks as is sometimes the case) if that street happens to be a border between wards. This actually has an impact on the quality of life within neighborhoods - you don't necessarily need to move out of the city to find improvement. The crowds each ward draws is proof in the pudding too, the results give really local identities.

That said, running urban Japan is an absurd beauracritic snail. The Japanese are a little too attached to their hand-written forms, and following their rules to the letter even when it makes no sense to do so (for examples of the kinds of messes this creates... check out the social security scandal).
 

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I am from Dallas but I live in central Tokyo right now, and have spent a lot of time in Fuji and Kamakura. Japan is an amazingly beautiful country... as long as you stay outside the cities ;) So here are my thoughts.


Quality of life
Yeah... well I suppose thats depends on what you want. Tokyo is nice for people who want to do a ton of things but are not really sure what those things are. Its not for people that want to save money. I have heard you can make a lot here, but I find that hard to believe. Maybe its just my industry though. Tokyo is way, way, too dirty, sweaty, ugly, gray, and lifeless for my tastes. The convinience of things is very nice of course though, and the transit system is amazingly good, but you still end up commuting like an hour (walk + train) or more usually. My commute back in the US was like 10 minutes if that :(

More rural or suburban towns, like Fuji or Kamakura, are much much much much more pleasant (they have trees and grass!) and more similar to the US. I would say people are even somewhat more friendly to strangers in the suburbs.


Overhead cables
Heh, what is up with those things? They are so aesthetically displeasing. Also what is up with the trees in Tokyo on many of the main streets? Every year they butcher all the branches. They look like like toothpicks and dont provide any shade ;)


Quality of built environment
Generally quite ugly. See previous point. I have seen lifeless industrial warehouse districts in Dallas that had more character than some towns here (at least they had trees). Which is sad, cause again, Japan is so amazingly beautiful. There is so much potential.


Historical presence
In most of the big cities in Japan, I feel they have about as much historical perspective as we do in Dallas. Which is to say, not much.


Parks and natural urban environments
Some parks in Tokyo are quite nice, but they are too few and too far between. So they are usually quite crowded and full of weirdos ;) But parks in general in Japan are kinda lame. Too small, and not really that naturey. And who in their right might builds swing sets over concrete ;)
 

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Tears of Buddha
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I'm sure that most of Japanese will agree with sogod.
We have so many civic problems to be solved.
 

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@ coldstar

Is Tokyo UGLY?! Why do dome people consider Tokyo UGLY or even DIRTY?! Don't they realize that 95% of world cities are dirtier than Tokyo?!
 

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Is Tokyo UGLY?! Why do dome people consider Tokyo UGLY or even DIRTY?! Don't they realize that 95% of world cities are dirtier than Tokyo?!
Of course it will be subjective.

As they say, beauty is always within the eye of the beholder. You can't always please everyone :p (as the saying says).

With that said, I think Japan can bounce back......as long as they stay away from building boxed-shaped buildings. Japan must stay away from this route in order for it to be more well-known in the construction industry. Fortunately, there are few structures being built or are built that show that this can be possible (ie. Namba Hips shopping center in Osaka, Ropponggi Hills, Atago Green Hills, Shin Toranomon.....and of course.....X-SEED 4000 which will be put up before the century ends:devil: )

Once that happens, then Japan will reach the top spot and from there, it will be the world's #1 in constructions (no other country would be able to beat Japan by then).
 

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@ Blackraven

and of course.....X-SEED 4000 which will be put up before the century ends:devil: )
^^ Er...X-Seed 4000 is just a visionary/dream/fantasy project. It will NEVER get built.

Anyway, I guess you're right, Japan does need to build more non-boxy scrapers. Newer developments in Tokyo really are beautiful (i.e. Tokyo Midtown Tower--beautiful box and Ropponggi Hills) but I'm hella sure it won't come near the audacity of China's booming cities. :yes:
 

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hmm, I don't think Tokyo is dirty at all, but yes, Tokyo is ugly without doubt.
Even Tokyo's Governor is always saying that Tokyo's cityscape is vomitive to anyone.

BTW, sogod, if you want to live an American way of life, then you should avoid living in Central Tokyo. In the suburbs of big cities or in the countryside, the people fully depend on the cars and big shoping malls with huge parking lot for everyday life. The envirionment is relatively well organized.
The people who are best well off are not the Tokyoites (they're high income earners, though) , but the livers in the country.
 

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Anyway, I guess you're right, Japan does need to build more non-boxy scrapers. Newer developments in Tokyo really are beautiful (i.e. Tokyo Midtown Tower--beautiful box and Ropponggi Hills) but I'm hella sure it won't come near the audacity of China's booming cities. :yes:
Actually Tokyo Midtown is an ugly box (while the Roppongi Hills tower is circular thus making it better). The tower itself is a plain box (like a newer version of the lame PBcom tower in the Philippines).

However, where it fails heavily in one aspect (box-shaped tower) is eventually made up with another (neo-Japanese interior, massive Galleria high-end shopping plaza, the Suntory Museum, 21_21 Design Sight museum by Tadao Ando).

^^ Er...X-Seed 4000 is just a visionary/dream/fantasy project. It will NEVER get built.
It will be built as a means to help reduce congestion of living space in Japan. It won't be as a means to show off against other countries.....but it will serve a purpose that will be beneficial for providing space in the face of current problems of congestion. In fact not only the above is needed but Sky City and Shimizu Pyramid will indeed be needed.

Japan's population (contrary to news reports) may actually stop shrinking. With hundreds of millions of people living in such a small country, there is a problem of living space. Thus the reason for high prices for housing and real estate as a result of demand overpowering supply.

Thus the need for "MEGACITY" strucutres. We are talking about hundreds of floors/stories of concrete, steel and stone....and maybe even cutting-edge materials as well (carbon nanotubes, photovoltaic cells, holographic projection etc.). Huge structures alone that support hundreds and thousands of inhabitants with complete facilities throughout the entire unit.

Yes, I admit that it will cost a lot....even billions (all three projects would cost more than A TRILLION to complete). What's more, duration of construction will take longer than "regular" buildings (definitely taller & bigger than Burj Dubai) but I feel that by then (when we start moving to the next century), these megacity structures will start rising (and these three will start getting built).

With Japan having less than 100% debt to GDP level by 2020 and having ZERO DEBT by post 2050, the time is right for these superstructures to rise.

The time is ripe:cheers:
 

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I love Japanese paving stone and the perfecto asphalt and other urban complements like a yellow marks for blind people ^^
 

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With Japan having less than 100% debt to GDP level by 2020 and having ZERO DEBT by post 2050, the time is right for these superstructures to rise.

The time is ripe:cheers:
HuH!?! :nuts:
 

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HuH!?! :nuts:
What I'm saying is that by the second half of this century, Japan would have little to no economic debt.

As you know, Japan atm has a very high amount of overall debt (which is 172% of their GDP last year). By 2020, this number is expected to improve (falling to <100%) and by the next 30 years or so after that, the country will have little to no debt (10% or less...or even ZERO DEBT).

Once that happens, then we can see megacity structures such as X-seed 4000, Shimizu Tri-Pyramid and Skycity 1000 being built and before this century ends, these said buildings will already be complete.

Hopefully, I'll try my best to keep myself alive so I can relocate into one of those "utopian" living strucutres :D
 
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