Will the apartments be built underground at some point?

Housing shortage in Tokyo : Measure and meter

After walking down the shabby staircase, you can't believe your eyes. A rickety elevator rattled up the floors. The laminate floor, the brown tiles at the bottom of the wall and the yellowed wallpaper above also didn't bode well. But then. Behind a heavy metal door, in which the key did not want to fit, opens this luxury apartment, stylishly designed down to the last detail.

Adam German leads into the entrance area of ​​the apartment in the center of Tokyo, in the middle of the trendy Shibuya district. Take off your shoes, park the tips parallel to each other in the direction of the apartment door. That's the way it is in Japan. The massive broker in a loosely fitting dark suit spreads his arms. “This is one of our special objects,” he says. A high-end refrigerator, shelves made of fine wood. Expensive ceiling lights hang low in the two and a half rooms, which can be converted into a single room through roller doors. "Everything made by the designer."

Space is in short supply

But even the 60 square meters of living space are a luxury in themselves. In the largest metropolis in the world with 37 million inhabitants and also the most economically powerful on the planet, the population density is higher than in most cities. 4,750 people live here on one square kilometer, more than twice as many as in New York. Space is in short supply in Tokyo.

Tokyo regularly ranks in the top places in global comparisons of the most expensive cities. Here and in Hong Kong, most billionaires have recently invested in real estate, and an increasing number of the super-rich from China and other Asian growth countries. More and more rarely from Japan itself. According to an analysis by the real estate company Savills, the rare large plots of 1500 square meters cost more than 100 million euros. However, the analysts suggest that the market is as good as exhausted. Almost nothing is empty either.

The planning, construction and brokerage scene in Japan's capital is dynamic and fast-moving because business is tough. Because of the very high land prices, a typical property is torn down after around 30 years and a new one is built in its place. Because in this way more money can be made. Tokyo therefore has the highest density of architects in the world, four times as many work per capita in all of Japan as in Germany. And so the skyline of the capital shows a sea of ​​buildings in every quarter, almost none of which are similar to the other. Narrow, two-story houses are hidden between skyscrapers, the boundaries of the small parks with temples or shrines are drawn by high-rise buildings. But concrete can be seen almost everywhere. Because most of the city was built on at some point.

Economic stagnation

These days it has been 25 years since one of the largest real estate bubbles in history burst in Japan. In early 1990, Tokyo's leading Nikkei 225 index halved within a very short time, similar to the Dow Jones in New York when the global financial crisis began in the summer of 2007. Land prices in the country fell to a quarter of their former highs in five years. The total economic damage of this slump can hardly be quantified. One thing is certain, however: The result was economic stagnation in which the country has persisted to this day. The "Bubble Crash" brought the second largest economy in the world at that time to the end of a society in which incomes were fairly evenly distributed. Hardly anywhere today shows this as strongly as in living.

"Life costs a lot here," says Adam German, who works for the leading real estate agency Housing Japan. When the mid-forties came to Tokyo from Canada eleven years ago, prices of 1,000 euros per month were already common for a small apartment that combined the kitchen, bedroom and entrance area in one room.

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