Wood if you could

Saitama prefecture contains a good portion of Tokyo bedroom communities, but it also has a lot of forests, and recently the prefectural government announced a plan to increase the amount of locally produced lumber that is used for new houses. Starting in June, the prefecture will accept applications for subsidies from residents who plan to build or buy new houses. The prefecture will pay up to one percent of the interest on housing loans for up to five years if the house being bought or built contains lumber grown and milled in Saitama.

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Condo confidence

Since 2005 the general feeling has been that the used condominium market in Japan is crap. Actually, it’s always been crap, and this blog will eventually get to that, but in 2005 it was officially crap thanks to Hidetsugu Aneha, the structural architect who was found to have falsified earthquake-resistance data on a number of buildings he helped design. Consequently, these buildings were deemed unsafe and some have since been rebuilt at great expense to condo owners and builders. Another consequence is that people realized that Aneha probably wasn’t the only one falsifying data to save money on things like steel support beams. In 2006 Susumu Ojima, the president of condo developer Huser Ltd., was arrested for allegedly selling units that he knew had been built with faked earthquake-resistance data. 

Ojima was eventually convicted and appealed the decision. His second trial just ended today with the judge upholding the conviction, but no one seems to be paying attention anymore, what with the recession and all. Used condominiums saw a pretty big jump in sales last year.

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Introduction

Greetings. This blog is about Japanese housing. It is not an advisory guide, nor is it a professional survey of markets and trends, though over time such matters will certainly be addressed. Mainly, it is a means of coming to grips with the peculiarities of Japanese housing in all its iterations–economic, stylistic, cultural–from the standpoint of people who actually live in Japan, namely the authors, one of whom is a resident alien, the other a Japanese national.