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PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES. TOKYO RESIDENTIAL SUBURBS Connection between physical conditions and social issues in declining outskirts of Tokyo. Rugile Ropolaite | 2016

The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, Faculty of Socio-Cultural Environmental Studies Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint-Lucas Brussels Master Dissertation -

Problems and Possibilities. Tokyo Residential Suburbs Rugile Ropolaite Supervising professors - Akiko Okabe, Bruno Peeters 2016

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to pay gratitude to the people who helped me. Firstly, I would like to thank professor Akiko Okabe for her wisdom, patience and valuable time that she shared with me. Professor Bruno Peeters, for his guidance when helping me find my direction in the complex suburbs of Tokyo. Members of Kashiwa Village Residents Association for their generosity and time when answering my questions and giving feedback. Old and new friends from Japan who introduced and helped me to explore the different ways of Japan. My brother for sharing his knowledge. Friends and colleagues from Lithuania, Belgium and across the world who encouraged and supported me in one way or another during this research.


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ABSTRACT Suburbia is a relevant topic in many cities, that have experienced rapid growth, including Tokyo. After WWII, Tokyo expanded in the shape of suburbs, many of which, today are becoming socially and physically obsolete. This paper attempts to analyse how physical environment of residential suburbs has affected the social life of the dwellers. Situations of suburbs worldwide, that also experienced rapid suburban growth and local movements in Japan will be used as references for creating solutions. The research discovers and analyses main physical characteristics of suburbia: urban sprawl, lack of infrastructure and mixed land uses, that are accompanied by ageing and occurrence of vacant homes. This analysis shows that the combination of these issues has been leading to social isolation and community deterioration in old residential suburbs. By understanding the background of developments and the reasons that led to these issues, paper looks forward and proposes improvement strategies based on current and future conditions. Thesis ends with conclusions of how Tokyo suburbs can try to remain socially and physically sustainable on their own. Current situation of decline is seen as an opportunity to remodel the current environment by redefining spaces and use of buildings according to future statistics and needs of residents. Proposed solutions are related to the local suburban characteristics, assets and knowledge of the dwellers and allow declining suburbs to develop their own ways of remaining viable.

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WHY TOKYO SUBURBS -Demographic and social changes -Physical characteristics

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CHANGES IN TOKYO AFTER WWII -New vision for Tokyo -Growth, The 1968 City Planning Law and Environmental crisis

16 16 16



MACHIZUKURI AND PARTICIPATION -Preservation and sustainability -Machizukuri in suburbs

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25 26 28 30 32



SUBURBANIZATION -Beginning and evolution of Tokyo suburbia

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SUBURBAN HOUSE MODEL -Transformation of the household -Plots -Structure

38 38 38

AFTERMATH XX CENTURY RESIDENTIAL SUBURBAN DEVELOPMENTS -Present and future of suburbia -Urban sprawl -Insufficient infrastructure

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-Mixed use developments -Advantages of mixed use

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AGEING POPULATION AND LOW BIRTH RATES -Future population 2015-2054

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POSSIBILITIES IN DECLINE -Third places and new policies -Jiyu-hiroba in Kashiwa city -The New National Spatial Strategy

53 54 54 55

CASE OF KASHIWA VILLAGE -Kashiwa Village -Access -Greenery - asset of Kashiwa Village -Age of residents and household size -Kashiwa Village from residents perspective -Meeting with Kashiwa Village Residents Association members

56 56 60 62 64 66 68

READJUSTMENT OF PRIVATE PROPERTIES INTO COMMUNAL PROPERTIES -The process -Contents of shared space and impact -Avoiding the tragedy of commons

70 70 73 73



RECYCLING A SUBURBAN HOME -Converting private houses into functions for residents -One house -Two houses -The structure

77 77 78 80 82













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Figure 1. Tokyo Metropolitan Area


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INTRODUCTION In this first part the aim of research and structure of the thesis will be presented. This chapter also contains the general overview of suburbs in Tokyo today and highlights it’s main characteristics. “Suburbia was at once the most characteristic product of explosive urban expansion and desperate protest against it ” (Robert Fishman, 1987 cited in Dunham-Jones E, Williamson J., 2011, pp. 17)

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This paper will attempt to present the current and future situation of Tokyo residential suburbs. It will explore the impact of built suburban environment on people - the relationship between planning issues that occurred just after WWII and their connection to the social problems today. Firstly, the situation and evolution of Tokyo metropolitan area after WWII will be overviewed, as well as the main methods of planning, that had influence on suburban developments. Cases of suburbs in foreign megacities will be explored as well. Secondly, the general situation of Tokyo residential suburbs and most common issues there will be investigated. Both planning and social problems will be reflected upon as they are linked and influenced by each other:

proper public infrastructure and loss of community vitality. It will be observed that because of decline some physical planning issues cannot be completely resolved. Nevertheless, declining population can be seen as an opportunity when creating socially and economically sustainable future suburbs. In order to achieve that, new planning measures should response to local assets and needs of each suburban area.

-Urban sprawl -Mixed use developments -Insufficient infrastructure -Vacant houses (Figure 2) -Ageing and low birth rates (Figure 3) -Social isolation Furthermore, in this research, it will be reflected on how these problems can be turned into possibilities for declining and ageing Tokyo suburbs. Since growth is no longer a realistic option to keep suburban areas lively, new mindsets and strategies are needed. Kashiwa Village in Kashiwa City, Chiba prefecture in the northern part of Tokyo metropolitan area will serve as a case study for more detailed theoretical investigation and will depict the possible design solutions for that area. Unlike most post-war Tokyo suburbs, Kashiwa Village is a planned large scale development, therefore it may provide a better understanding about similar developments of that time. Despite it’s organized planning and specific characteristics, Kashiwa Village does contain the same issues as other, less planned old residential Tokyo suburbs: ageing population, occurrence of vacant homes, lack of

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10000 residences, households



14 Total residences (left axis)



Total households (left axis) Vacant housing rate (right axis)












1958 63









0 13 year


Figure 2. Numbers of residences, households, and vacant housing rate. Based on data from Fujitsu research Institute, 2015 1950 6

Male | Female 4 2


2 4

2005 6

Male | Female

6 4



2 4

2055 6

Male | Female



6 4 100
















2 0


4 6

Figure 3. Japan’s population by age group. Based on data from National Institute of Population and Social Security Research

Figure 4. Surroundings decorated with greenery - a feature of Japanese residential areas

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Today in Japan much attention is paid to the condition of rapidly shrinking rural areas, measures to preserve them and to cities, especially Tokyo, that is the core of diverse functions, profitable investments, jobs and economy. Tokyo suburbs is a collage of fragments taken from both of those worlds. They have complicated development characteristics, plus, are constantly changing - declining and growing at the same time. It is a challenge trying to analyse them and present a precise common overview. Some scholars have even suggested that the term “suburbia“ should be dismissed and focus should be put on “multi-centered dynamics” in the metropolitan areas, as there is no conventional way to read all the different variations of suburbia (Dunham-Jones E, Williamson J., 2011, pp. 10). Therefore this research will mainly focus on the residential areas developed after WWII, that dominate Tokyo outskirts.

Demographic and social changes After WWII, during 1950-1975, Tokyo experienced the highest migration flow of all the cities in Japan, with 285.7 thousand people moving in annually (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 174). Tokyo today is still a growing city and will continue to be one until 2020 - afterwards it will slowly start declining (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2013). However, since the beginning of XXI century, older suburban areas in Tokyo Metropolitan Area have been declining in a faster pace.

elderly, making suburbs socially and economically unsustainable (Murayama, Okata,, 2010, pp. 32; OECD, 2016, pp. 182.). The future challenge will be not necessarily to keep these areas populated, but to help them remain prosperous (OECD, 2016, pp. 71).

Physical characteristics Most of the residential suburbs in Europe and North America are relatively stable once build. It is a valued quality of suburbs and residents are willing to preserve them that way (Sies, 1997 cited in Sorensen, 2001, pp. 248). However, calm and stable suburb notion does not apply to the majority of Tokyo outskirts. It is difficult to distinguish the line of where the city ends and suburb begins - that is the complicated outcome of different worlds literally clashing with patches of farmlands, industrial factories, residential homes, old and new developments (Figure 5, Figure 6, Figure 7). Such spatial organisation is directly linked to loose planning regulations and Japan’s single-minded orientation towards economic growth during postwar period. The next chapter will explore in greater detail the background of Tokyo suburbs: conditions after WWII, main policies and movements.

Nowadays less people are getting married, more of them stay single and prefer living in central areas. Those who do chose living in suburbia, are only interested by newly built homes in attractive neighbourhoods. Dwellers of old suburban neighbourhoods (built specifically in the 1960s-1970s for nuclear families), have grown old, their children - had left home, and the once young residential areas are now filled with

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Figure 5. Kashiwa Village, suburb of Kashiwa city

Figure 6. Kashiwa-no-ha, new suburb of Kashiwa city

Figure 7. Suburbs of Kashiwa city

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Figure 8. Kashiwa Village 1979. Beginning of development

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BACKGROUND OF TOKYO SUBURBS It is important to investigate the large scale development patterns and major decisions taken over the years in order to grasp the dynamic and logics of smaller suburban developments, as the decisions taken in higher levels directly affect the planning and social aspects on a smaller scale. In the following pages it will be reflected on the main changes and policies that occurred in post-war Tokyo and that had influence on current suburban areas. “When we saw our national land turned into scorched earth with sporadic burnt concrete structures, we had a dream and hope of drawing a new city as if over a blank white sheet. But soon we learned that there is a thick opaque layer of political, economic, and social realities beneath the scorched earth of each city...“ (Kenzo Tange, 1971 cited in Koolhaas, Obrist, 2011, pp. 56)

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After Word War II, rapid economic growth accompanied by urbanisation and industrialization began. Many people left rural areas for better life, work and education in Tokyo. However, the city was not prepared to deal with enormous influx of population. New vision for Tokyo After the war, urban planners saw the opportunity to create an ideal city. Suggested reconstruction plan by Ishikawa Hideaki was extremely different from prewar urban pattern (Figure 9). It was inspired by garden cities and Greater London Plan with big green spaces, preserved farmlands, wide boulevards with trees and a greenbelt. (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 162-163; Ward Stephen V., 1992, pp. 83; Wegener M., 1994, pp. 95). However, several reasons made this plan impossible. Firstly, there was a the lack of funds to realize it in a economically weak country, even though it was planned to implement it with Land Readjustment projects (see page 18). Secondly, there were many opposition movements and the size of area with the high density of property ownership in Tokyo made such idealistic concepts even more utopian. In the end, Tokyo gave into the pressures explosive growth and was rebuilt along the former pattern with only 6.8 percent of projects completed (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 165-166).

Growth, The 1968 City Planning Law and Environmental crisis In 1950s and 1960s, New Industrial Cities were being developed by putting all resources into industry-led economical growth (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 168). The main feature of Japanese urbanisation is that it was influenced by central government’s direction of the budget towards economical growth, with a minimum of resources dedicated to planning matters. While in most developed countries, after WWII, haphazard sprawling developments were prevented by proper land control regulations,

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Tokyo suburbs grew in a different way: planning and development rules were kept loose in order to provide more freedom for private investments (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 333). Little attention was paid to environment and residential area quality: providing proper infrastructure or implementing rules for development quality, except for some building standards and weak zoning system (Sorensen, 2000, pp. 229). The country needed to recover and this strategy was successful in ensuring that. Urban sprawl problems were strongly present until 1968 when concrete laws were introduced to reduce their impact. The 1968 City Planning Law was created to prevent urban sprawl by dividing planning areas into Urban Promotion Area(UPA) and Urbanisation Control Area (UCA). The sprawl had to be prevented by allowing new developments in UPA and preventing them in UCA. Although this method improved some areas, generally it had not been very successful. Many loopholes in 1968 City Planning Law regulations allowed unplanned developments. In residential areas restrictions applied only to noisy commercial functions and large factories, that had to be located in industrial areas. The rest of functions (like smaller factories) were permitted in residential neighbourhoods, which, due to the massive growth, eventually spread into large industrial areas (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 230). New constructions were beneficial for the growth of economy, but at the cost of residential life quality and eventually resulting in environmental crisis, during which a large number of people suffered or even died from environment-related diseases. Furthermore, the combination of housing and industrial facilities destroyed a number of amenities like forests, hills, beaches and contributed to deteriorating living quality with noise, smell and visual pollution (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 207). Instead of fixing those weaknesses of the new system and restricting the uncontrolled developments, the government encouraged Land Readjustment projects (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 342).

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Figure 9. Plan for Tokyo with residential, commercial, industrial and undesignated zones. Unzoned areas would serve as public spaces, parks, fire breaks and in the suburbs these areas would perform as a greenbelt.

Figure 10. Planned and completed Land Readjustment projects

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Tokyo suburbs have a chaotic pattern: high rises next to clusters of low rise detached buildings, complicated street networks, agricultural-urban lands clashing into one another, farms, vacant plots, factories - all in the same panorama. Even though it is not obvious from a first glance, there is a tool that attempts to create order in these areas. Land Readjustment (LR), is a method, when scattered irregular plots of agricultural land are gathered, roads and main infrastructure are built, and the land is subdivided into urban plots. Owner of each land contributes a part of their land (usually 30 percent) in order to provide space for roads and public spaces. Even though, with LR properties become smaller, they also become more convenient and desirable - their value increases and when selling, a profit can be made. LR is an important tool for suburban areas, as it can improve the basic quality of life in residential neighbourhoods. The projects in LR areas include improvement of infrastructure, road layout and public facilities, because patterns of property delineations are changed. Usually it has been difficult to assemble the small plots with multiple owners into one land suitable for development, but LR is a cheaper method rather than gathering all lands into a one ownership (Sorensen, 2000, pp. 225). The land still belongs to the owners, who give a portion of it to sell or pay off the readjustment costs. On social level, LR projects are less disruptive of the existing communities, since owners have the rights to their remaining land (Sorensen, 2001, pp. 258).

Therefore, usually LR projects tend to be scattered in a sea of sprawling developments, even though they are organised from within (Sorensen, 2000, pp. 320). The biggest influence of LR on suburbia, is that the land plots can be adjusted in the most convenient manner. When an area becomes socially or economically stagnant or has an obsolete urban pattern, it can be readjusted according to changing needs. Such example can be seen in Kashiwa-noha. In 2001, a Land Readjustment Project began, creating a next generation smart city (Mitsui Fudosan, Co., 2014) and allowing to model the area in the most convenient matter. Therefore the shopping mall with restaurants, hospital, new residential high-rises and other functions is situated next to the railway station, a convenient location for residents, most of whom commute to work in Tokyo (Figure 13). LR will be especially necessary in the declining future, when Japan’s problem of vacant homes becomes even more severe and begins to spread throughout less desirable suburban areas, allowing the gathering the unused properties to provide space for other, more relevant functions.

Even though LR is a tool for organizing space and implementing order, Tokyo suburbia still is scattered. One of the main disadvantages of LR is that it can encourage leapfrogging development. (Sorensen, 2000, pp. 319) That occurs when there are difficulties to develop places close to existing urban areas. Furthermore, LR is not used for metropolitan scale, it is used for smaller land readjustments.

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Figure 11. Land readjustment

Figure 12. Kashiwa-no-ha before LR in 1984

Figure 13. Kashiwa-no-ha during LR in 2016

“One of the major factors in accounting for the prosperity of Japanese economy is that her people have opted to tolerate, rightly or wrongly, a meagre resource allocation for their living conditions, thereby leaving the maximum amount of resources for industrial development. Japan has been able to afford only such a living environment as LR could offer. Indeed LR has been the most vital tool for Japan to muddle through, coping with heavy demands for urban land and resource constraints, particularly during the high economic growth period� (Nagamine, 1986, pp. 52 cited in Sorensen, 2000, pp. 324).

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Different processes and activities regarding people’s engagement, management and protection of shared places spread around Japan, during the 1990s, the period of economic stagnation. They have been referred to as machizukuri (community building). Initially machizukuri was a response from the society to the government that failed them. It focuses on people, allows them to become a part of improvement and protection processes of their communities and urban life quality. It intended to strengthen and contribute to the roles of society in local governance, create lively and sustainable communities, tackle the relationship obstacles between citizens, governments of local and central scale. Today machizukuri has shifted more to public participation and management of shared spaces (Sorensen, Funk, 2007, pp. 24). Special attention is paid to residential areas, that have been neglected by Japanese government during the rapid growth period. Improvement takes place by widening roads, providing public facilities for communities, parks, development control in sprawling areas and historical preservation (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 325) (Figure 15).

Machizukuri in suburbs Machizukuri processes in suburban neighbourhoods have proven to be effective. In this scale, it is easier to meet people, share the costs and responsibilities, since residents know each other and see who is participating. The feeling of commitment and respect can be seen in little details of suburban streets and alleys: one can observe people cleaning the street in front of their home, decorating it with flower pots. These actions come directly from the people and therefore can stimulate bigger interventions in the local scale, while connecting the community at the same time. The idea of machizukuri is needed, especially in today’s declining and ageing suburbs, since there is a bigger threat of social and environmental degradation. Involving people into these processes has been recognized as a necessary act. Because of their knowledge they can suggest relevant ideas, that would help to maintain vitality in each area, that has it’s own specific qualities (Sorensen, Funk 2007, pp. 5).

Preservation and sustainability Since the 1990s, a number of associations related to participation, citizen involvement in caring for shared public spaces, like volunteer centres and NPO’s, has increased. It suggests that the traditional policies are not enough to satisfy the needs of people when providing a desirable environment to live in. Machizukuri groups advocate different ways of planning, from small local improvements to preservation and re-use of buildings, because local qualities are important to many Japanese (Sorensen, Funk 2007, pp. 271). People tend to value the places they live in, spend time improving, maintaining and protecting, both the private and shared spaces. In addition to these activities, the gathering of community, social activities, learning about one’s neighbours has been an enjoyable process itself (Sorensen, Funk 2007, pp. 277).

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Figure 14. “Wooden apartment belt� in Tokyo. Focus area of many machizukuri movements

Figure 15. Example of machizukuri projects in Taishido

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After WWII Japan was in a difficult position, with massive destruction and severe housing shortages - therefore urban planning problems were unavoidable. The value put on economic growth was the most important reason that led to rapid, uncontrolled urbanisation which resulted in an endless amount of urban issues for years to come.

cal planning. In addition to that, civic organizations are necessary to local governments. Movements like machizukuri demonstrate the growing interest in urban issues and are important for providing the relevant information of what is needed to the local governments, who then balance the needs and demands (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 352).

Japan’s case demonstrates how important are development restrictions. A lot of money was spent since 1980s to improve planning mistakes, but little has been achieved, as developments continue to spread on the urban fringe. Plus, the high cost of land and lack of public spaces has been discouraging spending money on urban problem solutions (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 349).

Japan is rich because of it’s post-war rapid economic revival and growth. Nevertheless it is questionable if this success will ever be reflected onto better quality life of people in residential areas. The single-minded focus on economic growth and reign of central government in decision making on all levels - both are contributors to the current planning and social problems in Tokyo suburbs.

Land Readjustment is the main tool that is used to obtain land for public spaces. Nevertheless, LR is not able to provide coherent planning on a bigger scale, therefore, in suburbs, the islands of planned developments are usually surrounded by a sea of unplanned sprawl. Land controls were loose in order to develop residential homes in the cheapest possible way and reserve the rest of the funds towards growth. That was a fatal mistake, because the best time to create good quality patterns is at the very beginning, while neighbourhoods are still being planned. Japan has a strong central government and insignificant local governments. Such system was aimed towards rapid developments of industrial sectors, but was not beneficial for planning at the local level. Usually local governments are more responsive to people’s needs, local environmental issues, but as they did not have any influence, the needed developments that could contribute to a better urban life, were never realized. Japanese central government held back the local governments by not allowing to have independent planning approaches and achieve better urban environments (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 341). However, recently, this situation has shifted and it is has been acknowledged that strong local governments are relevant when it comes to lo-

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Although each city has peculiar growth patterns, it can be useful to investigate the conditions, problems and solutions of foreign megacities, that, like Tokyo, lived through wars in the XX century and at some point afterwards had experienced rapid growth. The situations of suburbs in London, Seoul and Los Angeles will be investigated in the following chapter.

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Figure 16. Tokyo suburban pattern - Kashiwa City area R. Ropolaite | 2016


Figure 17. Suburbs of London, Seoul and Los Angeles 24 |

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SUBURBS OF MEGACITIES IN EUROPE, ASIA AND NORTH AMERICA Further essays will present the cases of suburbs from foreign megacities. The following cities have experienced rapid growth since the second half of XX century and continue to grow today: London, United Kingdom, Seoul, South Korea and Los Angeles, United States of America.

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LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM Greenbelt, housing shortage and urban-suburban challenges Population of London metropolitan area: 14,033,085 (Eurostat, 2016)

One of the major planning concepts that defines London’s urban structure is the greenbelt. It was introduced in 1955 to control urban sprawl from spreading into rural areas, prevent towns from merging, preserve character of each area and assist the recycling of neglected urban lands (Rode P., 2011). After a period of population decline (1940-1980), Greater London’s population started to grow and currently is 8.7 million. Furthermore it is projected to grow by at least 1.6 million by 2033 (GLA, 2015). As a consequence, the city continues to suffer from high cost of living, traffic congestions and shortage of good-quality affordable housing. The housing shortage problem (80 percent of population in London cannot afford averagely priced London home (Hatherley et al., 2015) has caused leap-frogging - areas are developing beyond the greenbelt with approximately 300 000 commuters travelling from homes beyond the greenbelt to work in the city. Therefore, it has been observed that the travel times have increased, there is more pollution, congestion, loss of public conveniences (Cheshire, Sheppard, 2002 cited in Rode, 2011, pp. 206). The population of London is shifting to outer areas in search of affordable housing and as a result many suburbs are experiencing population growth, combined with high levels of inner and outer migration (as in the case of Barnet) (Figure 18 - Figure 21). In a lecture of AA School of Architecture on London’s suburbia (Hatherley et al., 2015), various solutions regarding these issues were presented: - Creating homes and jobs in other cities in order to relief London. - Densifying parts of London, that already have good access to public transport and amenities (London is a low density city, with 50 percent of homes that are semi-detached or detached (Rode P., 2011, pp. 197) and retrofitting the city itself, using brownfield land, exploiting the cracks and gap

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spaces to accommodate people. Another suggestion in the lecture was regarding suburban environments and their density. The spatial layout of suburbs usually includes a commercial, business cluster around main station in the centre of suburb or a high street (Figure 19, Figure 20 ). The residential private detached or semi-detached buildings with gardens spread out around it in monofunctional streets with sufficient amount of public greenery (Figure 21). Suburbs in general have relatively healthy lifestyles, family friendly environment, rather low levels of crime, but unaffordable housing, traffic congestions and mismatch between local jobs and workers. Furthermore, the pace of growth requires a greater level of adaptability given the mix of society (in nationalities, ages and cultures) and makes it a challenge to satisfy the needs of such diverse residents. Amongst them, there are numerous knowledge workers, many of whom would like to settle near their work place, and commute less, if it were not for the higher housing prices in inner city (Local Futures Group, 2010). As a consequence, even though London’s suburbs can offer a pleasant environment in themselves, their remote location prevents the residents, most of whom are workers in the urban core, from enjoying it. Metropolitan dispersal and density might contribute to reduced commuting hours and residences closer to jobs in suburbs (Gordon; Richardson, 1990, 1995 cited in Sorensen, 2000, pp. 238). Therefore more attention could be paid to the idea of suburbia as a mixed use place that can contribute to both - the economic growth of the metropolitan area and a place to reside.

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Figure 18. Barnet suburb - typical of many suburbs in London

Figure 19. Barnet suburb: residential streets and the highstreet

Figure 20. Barnet’s high street

Figure 21. Barnet’s residential street

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA New towns of gated communities Population of Seoul Metropolitan Area: 25,620,000 (Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, 2015) Seoul Metropolitan Region (SMA) experienced a massive growth and rise of population since the Korean War - from 2.4 million in 1960 to 9.8 million people in 2016 (World Population Review, 2016). In the late 1980s, the SMA suffered from an extreme shortage in housing and increasing housing prices, therefore the second phase of suburbanization expanded beyond the greenbelt (Kim K.J., Choe S.C., 2011). The government initiated the ‘‘Two Million Home Construction Plan’’ and in the early 1990s five large-scale new towns were designed to deal with overpopulation in Seoul, that would solve the city’s housing shortage problem. These developments replaced the old city pattern of low rise detached buildings with a forest of residential high-rises (Kim K.J., Choe S.C., 2011). Korean suburbs contain lifeless streets that are deprived of pedestrian movements. Nevertheless, they have lively third places, which are humanorientated in their design and separated from the automobile roads by greenery. It can be seen in Bundang New Town, one of the first planned residential development in Korea’s suburbs, which takes the shape of high rise standardized apartment buildings with gated communities (Figure 23).

areas is orientated towards automobiles. Pedestrians have to walk along dead streets, barricaded from any activities or facilities and therefore are susceptible to crime (Figure 25). This is the aftermath of decisions taken by residential housing developers who preferred to orientate buildings inward, towards resident parking lots. At the same time the property is surrounded by rows of trees that clearly delineate the public zone with automobile orientated street and the inner residential areas (Lee T., 2012). Even though, the gated-communitylike development has it’s own advantages, creating these attractive pedestrian islands can result in segregation of the public realm. Generally, the concept of suburban centre could serve as a good example for socially and economically lifeless suburbs in other similar cities. Even though the high rise complexes should have been more integrated into remaining suburban pattern, with commercial functions on ground floor and creating safer environment for people in the streets, such spaces are successful in promoting pedestrian movements, community life and encouraging local economies.

The inner pedestrian areas in suburbs, outside of boulevards feature a diverse range of amenities with commercial, cultural, entertainment, sports facilities that compose a gated community-like “suburban centre” (Lee T., 2012). A study conducted in Seoul’s suburbs found out that due to the proximity to these functions, the suburban dwellers have a lesser need to use cars or travel to Seoul, because they tend to stay, spend money and contribute to local economy instead of taking trips to Seoul (Lee T., 2012). An analysis of the street view of such an area shows that most of the public space outside the pedestrian

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Figure 22. Residential area in Bundang New Town

Figure 24. Pedestrian street in Bundang

Figure 23. Residential area in Bundang New Town

Figure 25. Boulevard in Bundang New Town

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LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The mother of sprawl - post-suburban metropolis Population of Los Angeles Metropolitan Area - 13,262,220 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015)

Los Angeles is a low-density megacity due to it’s suburban expansion. Today there is no more land available for suburban sprawl and Los Angeles has been turning itself into a post-suburban city. It is growing inward, not outward with new developments, and is retrofitting it’s suburban patterns to more urban-like textures, as it a more sustainable way for the city to develop. Los Angeles grew with fragmented social, cultural and political layers, without a defined identity or a coherent vision (Fogelson, 1967 cited in Cuff, 2011, pp. 276). That is reflected onto the physical fabric, with multiple places of employment, neighbourhoods and a downtown (Figure 26). The city does not have an overall urban plan, it is multi-centered and built by “profit seeking real-estate interests” (Cuff D., 2011, pp. 277). Even though, since the WWII, Los Angeles has become more socially diverse, it’s physical environment has had the same pattern: single land use and sprawl of suburban detached private homes for middle class, as in the case of Lakewood suburb (Figure 27 - Figure 29).

and regenerate them by converting into more dense and mixed places. Larger projects allow municipalities to gain more knowledge about mixed uses and regulations that are related to urban development, therefore one well-designed retrofit can lead to another (Dunham-Jones; Williamson, 2009, pp. 43). Case of Los Angeles demonstrates the efforts of stopping suburban sprawl and opting for more sustainable growth. It’s post-suburban phase shows the need for urban transformation by creating higher density, retrofitting the existing city patterns, spreading environmental awareness, exploiting existing micro identities, mixing uses and projectby-project planning.

Long commuting hours, car dependency, lack of affordable housing and environmental challenges are creating more pressure to transform the city. Los Angeles has always been more project-based rather than plan-based and more tactical than strategic (Cuff, 2011, pp. 279). Therefore fragmentation of the city pattern makes the idea of a coherent planning difficult to realize. As a tool, tactical incrementalism is more dominant and practised in Los Angeles. It responds to realestate market economies and occurs in shape of fragmented and targeted projects, which are small, but have bigger impact (Cuff D., 2011, pp. 283). Another strategy, similar to tactical incrementalism, but targeting a larger scale, is retrofitting of suburbia. It aims to urbanize larger suburban areas

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Figure 26. Los Angeles

Figure 27. Lakewood suburb

Figure 28. Layout of Lakewood residential streets

Figure 29. Streetview of Lakewood suburb

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Dominant residential pattern


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Figure 30. Barnet suburb

Figure 31. Barnet suburb

Figure 32. Bundang suburb

Figure 33. Bundang suburb

Figure 34. Lakewood suburb

Figure 35. Lakewood suburb

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Dominant architectural form


-High streets containing mixed functions and residential streets in the surroundings -Very expensive housing - Greenery -Semi-detached / detached homes -Long travel-to-work times and traffic congestions Figure 36. Barnet suburb

-Housing separated from public realm -Gated community-like developments -Walkable mixed use pedestrian boulevards -Dominated by high-rise buildings -Long travel-to-work times and traffic congestions Figure 37. Bundang suburb

-Tactical incrementalism strategies and retrofitting projects - No coherent plan -Suburban pattern of detached homes -Long travel-to-work times and traffic congestions -Car dependant

Figure 38. Lakewood suburb

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Figure 39. Kashiwa Village in 1947 (upper) and 2016 (lower)

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PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE CONDITIONS OF TOKYO SUBURBS The following chapter will introduce in greater detail the evolution of post-war Tokyo residential outskirts. It will highlight the main problems suburbs have been facing and their impact on the residents.

“Construction will have nothing blocking it’s way...“ (Yoshikazu Uchida, 1939 cited in Koolhaas, Obrist, 2011, pp. 56)

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After the war, rural Japan turned into an urban country. The baby boomer generation left rural areas and migrated to cities in search for better jobs, housing and higher education opportunities. For Tokyo the only way to meet the increasing housing demand was to grow further from the city core into the suburbs. The mass suburbanization is the most dominant characteristic of post-war urbanisation period (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 205).

Beginning and evolution of suburbia Planning systems in 1919 had paid little attention to the development of suburbia - no required standards for buildings or infrastructure. With the railway development in 1920s, the growth of suburbs began and after the earthquake in 1923 - accelerated even more (Murayama, Okata, 2010, pp. 17-18). Japanese case of residential suburbanization is different from other countries, because it was strongly influenced by railway companies, that developed agricultural land along their rail lines (Wegener M., 1994, pp. 93). According to Sorensen (2004, pp. 251), there are several reasons why these companies had such a big influence on suburban developments. Firstly, the car ownership became popular only in the middle of 1980s. Before then, government had restricted it with high taxes, license fees and putting more resources towards industrial investments. Secondly, employment centres were located in city centre, which were well connected to railway and subway systems. Thirdly, road networks were poor and parking spaces in city centre were scarce. Private railway companies bought lands in outskirts of Tokyo, developed housing estates and garden suburbs (Murayama, Okata, 2010, pp. 19). These companies further facilitated the suburbanization and promised better buildings and green spaces. Such elements allured young families to settle in suburban developments and as the housing prices continued to grow in the city, even more people fled to the suburbs. The private railway companies

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also promoted development along the lines far from employment centres, since it helped them to earn higher profits from longer commuting trips (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 207). Such growth patterns continued to influence Tokyo‘s expansion without any strict planning regulations until late 1960s (The 1968 City Planning Law). In 1960s, during the period of rapid growth, new developments on the urban fringe took the pattern of half developed, half unplanned development, due to the weak control systems. As mentioned earlier, little attention was paid to residential areas, which eventually started suffering from poor environmental conditions, housing problems, lack of parks, roads and sewage systems. After WWII, controlling urban sprawl was the main reason why new planning systems were introduced, nevertheless, only a small part of the land was developed properly. During the second half of 1970s the migration to metropolitan cores stopped, but the growth of urban areas continued with rapid suburbanization and even accelerated, since more people were moving to suburbs in search for better living conditions (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 251). Such patterns of growth continued in the 1980s, as housing prices in the city core grew even higher. In the 1990s with the collapse of bubble economy, suburbanization decreased and population in central areas began to grow. During the first decade of the millennium there was no significantly positive migration to the outskirts (especially the ones developed during 1960s and 1970s) and people who had lived in suburbs with their parents before, settled in urban areas instead.

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Figure 40. Kashiwa-Tanaka station west Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 1999

Figure 41. Kashiwa-Tanaka station, west of Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 2004

Changes after implementation of Tsukuba Express (2005) :

Figure 42. Kashiwa-Tanaka station area, west Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 2005

Figure 43. Kashiwa-Tanaka station area, west Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 2008

Figure 44. Kashiwa-Tanaka station area, west Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 2012

Figure 45. Kashiwa-Tanaka station area, west Kashiwa Village, Kashiwa City, 2016

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Transformation of the household

bushes or potted plants.

After WWII, the private homes in residential suburban areas were being designed for a typical middle class nuclear family - a housewife, few children and a working husband. The goal of many people was to live in a private detached suburban house (Godzik M., 2015, pp. 254). Therefore during the massive suburbanization period, detached home model was most dominant (Kubo, et. al., 2015, pp. 126; Hino, 2015, pp,186). Government made sure that low interests for home ownership were granted in order to stimulate suburbanization and over 19 million homes were build by 2003, with people paying back their loans over 35 years. Housing system was connected to employment system of “salaryman“. Life long employment with growing salary over the years allows people to have a house and pay back the loans (Gardner E., Fruneaux C, 2015, pp. 254).

It is said that Japanese move to suburbs to enjoy a better, greener environment, and in some cases it can be true, but usually greenery is a temporary luxury, that is lost to further suburban expansion and developments (Hanayama, 1986 cited in Sorensen, 2004, pp. 329).

Many nuclear families lived in outskirts, where population age was young, at least until 1990s (Hino M., 2015, pp. 187). Today the declining population and late marriages (if at all) have reduced the demand for housing in remote suburban areas. Single-person households have reached 50 percent of all households in central Tokyo and less people seem to be interested in suburban detached houses (Gardner E., Fruneaux C., 2015, pp. 274). The old physical “nuclear family“ environment of existing residential suburbs has not caught up with this social transformation, therefore contributing to reduced life quality for remaining residents.


Structure The majority of people live in detached houses, that are usually constructed by prefab home builders (Godzik M., 2015, pp. 252). Traditional suburban house has a light timber structure, of one or two storeys without basement and many of them tend to have a underdeveloped sewage infrastructure system (Flutcher, 2012, pp. 31). Typical Japanese house is demolished after the minimum of 30 years, due to few reasons: one - the Japanese preference for new homes and second - the housing quality. The lack of regulations for building standards allowed to have poor housing quality and turned suburban homes into disposable goods. For example, The Construction Standards Law does not require to provide structural calculations for wood-framed houses of one or two levels. Earthquake resistance is measured by “wall-length ratio, that is based on wall area and number of diagonal beams” (Koo R., Sasaki M., 2008, pp. 8). When investigated, buildings passed the test, but they were lacking earthquake resistance when structural calculations were made, which is unaccountable in a country like Japan, that has frequent seismic activities.

Suburbs in Japan have very small plots, due to the expensive land prices. Houses have little gardens on south side (either on the side, front or the back of the building) and approximately one metre distance from three sides of the boundary (Sorensen, 2001, pp. 265). There are no spaces for large greenery in the backyards, except for some decorative trees,

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Figure 46. Construction of a house in Tokyo suburbs

Figure 47. Layout of a residential suburb. Kashiwa Village

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Present and future of suburbia The suburbia we see today was designed to accommodate the population overflow to Tokyo. Many homes were needed for large amounts of people in a short period of time. As a result, they were built in poor conditions, with a very small amount of living area and sprawled extensively to remote suburban areas.

commuting hours, fatigue and mixed use developments, with less access to nature within reachable distance and pollution. Furthermore these issues have been accompanied by ageing / low birth rates and increasing number of vacant houses. The combination of these problems influence the life of residents who live in suburbs and can eventually contribute to the appearance of other issues, like social isolation.

Urban sprawl

These problems will be further elaborated in the following pages.

In Japan, urban sprawl is a term that is mostly used to describe patterns of growth that spread over large areas due to their low density; leapfrog development and undeveloped patches that lessen accessibility, and encourage traffic congestions (Cervero 1989; Ewing 1997 cited in Sorensen, 2004, pp. 231). Tokyo suburbia demonstrates different patterns of urban sprawl : it can occur as a development of one or few scattered homes and of hundreds, planned, laid out in a orderly copy-paste manner (Sorensen, 2000, pp. 235) (Figure 48 and Figure 49). Both can be considered as sprawl if they are far from existing urban areas, lack connectivity, or are difficult to reach from the main infrastructure nods. Urban sprawl mostly burdens families that settle in distant residential suburbs and who prefer to enjoy their own private homes, sacrificing good accessibility to the urban areas. In many cases “urban sprawl“ seems to be the phrase that defines suburbia. Controlling it has been one of the main planning issues for urban planners ever since WWII. Despite the efforts and numerous unsuccessful policies, Japan has not been able to do so - considering the vast areas of maintenance-free developments in present Tokyo suburbia. Urban sprawl in Japanese suburbs has produced an array of issues: insufficient infrastructure - congestion of traffic, unfinished developments, long

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Figure 48. Urban sprawl. Kashiwa

Figure 49. Urban sprawl. Kashiwa

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Insufficient infrastructure Even before WWII, one of the main issues at local scale was the provision of good quality infrastructure along with new developments. No effective systems existed that would control it, there were difficulties when providing land for public infrastructure or stopping the construction of private roads (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 230). New developments had to be designed in a timeless and intelligent manner, that even years after area would still be convenient and would not require major adjustments. Unfortunately, the worm-eaten manner of growth and urban sprawl did not allow to implement a convenient infrastructure system. It failed at the beginning, when land was tabula rasa, making it even harder to improve later. Today numerous infrastructure issues are evident in Tokyo suburbia: First of all, the price of infrastructure maintenance is raised by urban sprawl. Regardless of how many households there are, the same amount of money has to be spent to lay down a road or sewage system, making it expensive to provide for people in remote or low-density developments (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 231). Secondly, in Japan it can take decades until an area becomes fully inhabited and only then basic services are implemented (Kurokawa, et al. 1995 cited in Sorensen, 2004, pp. 231). Such patches of unsupported homes in the suburbs create complicated connectivity to work, school, shops, railway stations and long commuting hours. Therefore, sometimes, unfinished roads, scattered developments mean that suburbs are unstable and open to change. Furthermore, in many residential areas the infrastructure is insufficient with narrow roads, no sidewalks or public amenities. Well-maintained parks and playgrounds tend to be scarce in such developments (Figure 50, Figure 51). Sidewalks are also rarely to be seen in residential suburbs (Figure 52). In addition to that, traffic congestions is a serious issue, as roads, that are less than four metres wide,

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are not equipped to carry an increasing amount of traffic and have space only for two cars (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 346). Thirdly, insufficiently developed infrastructure can destroy the possibility of enjoying natural surroundings. If an environment is rich, it can become a pleasant and exclusive area to reside in. That can be achieved by carefully creating specific pedestrian paths and road layouts (Hough 1995; Unwin [1909] 1994 cited in Sorensen, 2004, pp. 231). Unfortunately, in Japan, when area is being developed, trees and rivers tend to be eliminated, and the land is levelled to provide more space and easier access (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 329). Once build, such developments are difficult to improve. It is often the older areas with the ageing population that need these improvements, but it is expensive to retrofit a build up area, due to the high cost of land and demolitions (Kurokawa, 1995, cited in Sorensen, 2004, pp. 231). The aftermath of policies, that encouraged growth and maximum profits from new developments, today burdens suburbia and it’s residents with insufficient infrastructure. Even though Japan is a wealthy country due to the economic post-war growth, it’s residents have not been able to enjoy it. It is not expressed in good quality of life in living environments, contributing to the “Rich Japan - poor Japanese“ syndrome (Sorensen, Funck 2007, pp. 6). It is doubtful if the infrastructure in remote areas will ever be finished, as demand in future will only decrease.

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Figure 50. Old playground in Kashiwa Village

Figure 51. Path along the park in Kashiwa Village

Figure 52. Typical suburban street with no sidewalks in Kashiwa Village

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Mixed use developments

Advantages of mixed use

Today the dominant pattern of Japanese planning in suburbs, and especially urban fringe, contains a mixture of planned developments and uncontrolled urban sprawl (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 326). Such manner of development in Japan produced a diverse and complex suburban fabric:

Nevertheless, in some cases mixed use contributes to vitality of an area and increases social and economic levels. Fragmentation of spaces and mixing of functions creates vitality, as long as it is inclusive, flexible and coherently connected to a network. However, such situations are usually found in central urban areas, where mixed functions enhance each other (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 222). In Japanese suburbs, such ideas should be approached with precaution, considering the level of weak planning system: the uncontrolled haphazard developments and mixing functions can cause traffic congestions and produce environmental problems (Natori M., 2009, pp. 10; Wegener, M., 1994, pp. 101). Therefore the functions that combine “the mix� should be planned in a compact and coherent manner, responding to the scale of the area and critically considering side-effects of such developments to the dwellers.

First of all, the division between rural and urban is not clear in Tokyo outskirts. When observing it, one can see the outcome of fast urban growth, that created many areas of mixed use: agricultural, commercial, residential and industrial. Most suburban developments spread into farm fields in a scattered pattern of individual homes and create financial obstacles for improvements (Sorensen, 2004, pp. 236). Secondly, suburbs have numerous mixed uses and are always changing with no stability in environment. Land use change without new buildings is not considered new development in Japan, therefore the conversion of farmland to car lots, wrecking yards, recycling facilities is not controlled in urban fringe areas (Sorensen, 2006, pp. 235). These actions is the aftermath of central government, placing no controls over regulations in residential areas, as it was focused on providing more freedom for landowners and developers. Furthermore, a pleasant neighbourhood might become more dense as single lots are divided to host more people or it can be transformed by laying new roads and bringing new apartment blocks. Such changes increase the ways land can be used, changing from a residential to a mixed area, and result in residents suffering from unpleasant neighbours, like industrial companies.

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Well-planned mix use developments are especially relevant for declining and ageing Japan. Such developments can satisfy people’s needs in local areas without having to travel long distances to the city centre and providing a good distribution of workplaces, homes and commercial facilities, as in the case of Seoul. Particularly the ageing and monofunctional residential suburbs are in need of a retrofitting, that would conveniently allow to have a mix of necessary functions nearby and help to sustain a vibrant community.

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Figure 53. Scrap metal yard near residential homes in Kashiwa Village

Figure 54. Automobile repair shop near residential homes in Kashiwa Village

Figure 55. Patches of mixed use developments: parking lot and scrap metal yard within agricultural and residential lands in Kashiwa Village

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Population in Japan began to decrease naturally in 2005 with death rates exceeding birth rates (Sato, 2006, pp. 2). It is predicted to decline by more than 30 percent to 86.74 million by 2060, compared to 126.02 million in 2015 (The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2012, pp. 2). More than one-third of population will be over 65 years old in 2035 (Figure 56 on page 47). Suburbs in particular will experience a rapid growth of elderly population and a shortage of nursing facilities (Third United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, 2014). Nowadays young, especially unmarried people, tend to stay in central areas, where other unmarried people live (Abe, T., 2015, pp. 40), focus on their jobs and enjoy a more diverse way of living. Women are establishing urban lifestyles and customs, therefore the pressures to live a traditional life are disappearing (Gardner E., Fruneaux C., 2015, pp. 275). Japanese government is encouraging women to have children and is attempting to help them balance careers with families with improved policies for day care provision and family-related work leave (Research Committee on Aged Society with Declining Birthrate House of Councillors, 2007, pp. 33-34; Peng, 2003 cited in Sorensen, 2006, pp. 229). Nevertheless, currently the minds of many young Japanese are focused on themselves and committing to raising a child can require too much sacrifice. Being a working mother is experienced as a intolerable status, since those two responsibilities are difficult to balance and taking parental leave for a man is inconsistent with being a salaried worker (Coulmas, 2007, pp. 132). This problem is enhanced by the long working hours in Japan, which leaves no time or energy for meeting a spouse or committing to a relationship. Therefore young people tend to live a life without commitment to anything, but their work and spend the money on their own needs (Coulmas, 2007, pp. 11). In the future, people who decide not to have children will have to rely on public assistance and elderly care facilities.

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This shifted attitude has been affecting the economy in Japan. Younger people and young families tend to consume, buy more than the elderly, therefore the ageing-declining population factor negatively influences the economical growth (Sorensen, 2006, pp. 229). Japan’s declining and ageing population is certain to have major impacts on land and housing markets as well. It will change both the meaning of urban space, and what is needed for a quality life in urban areas (Sorensen, 2006, pp. 228). Furthermore, these social changes will suppress new housing demand and it will begin to decline along with the population, hopefully, reducing the current growth of vacant homes.

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FUTURE POPULATION 2015-2054 In thousands of persons Year

All ages

0-14 years old

15-64 years old

65 and over years old

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033 2034 2035 2036 2037 2038 2039 2040 2041 2042 2043 2044 2045 2046 2047 2048 2049 2050 2051 2052 2053 2054

126,597 126,193 125,739 125,236 124,689 124,100 123,474 122,813 122,122 121,403 120,659 119,891 119,102 118,293 117,465 116,618 115,752 114,870 113,970 113,054 112,124 111,179 110,220 109,250 108,268 107,276 106,275 105,267 104,253 103,233 102,210 101,185 100,158 99,131 98,103 97,076 96,048 95,021 93,993 92,964

15,827 15,574 15,311 15,056 14,800 14,568 14,318 14,049 13,766 13,505 13,240 12,959 12,706 12,466 12,242 12,039 11,856 11,692 11,544 11,410 11,287 11,171 11,060 10,951 10,842 10,732 10,618 10,500 10,377 10,249 10,116 9,978 9,835 9,689 9,539 9,387 9,233 9,077 8,922 8,767

76,818 75,979 75,245 74,584 74,011 73,408 72,866 72,408 71,920 71,369 70,845 70,349 69,799 69,187 68,522 67,730 67,224 66,330 65,412 64,441 63,430 62,357 61,229 60,059 58,917 57,866 56,888 55,985 55,117 54,308 53,531 52,810 52,098 51,385 50,683 50,013 49,386 48,773 48,180 47,613

33,952 34,640 35,182 35,596 35,877 36,124 36,290 36,356 36,436 36,529 36,573 36,584 36,597 36,640 36,701 36,849 36,673 36,848 37,013 37,203 37,407 37,651 37,931 38,239 38,508 38,678 38,769 38,782 38,759 38,676 38,564 38,398 38,225 38,057 37,881 37,676 37,430 37,171 36,891 36,585

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In most of the countries, the rate of vacant homes is affected by the economic level of the time. Nevertheless, in Japan, the rate of vacant homes has been steadily increasing since WWII and in 2013 it was 8.2 million (Fujitsu Research Institute, 2015). After WWII, when cities needed to accommodate a growing number of new residents, homes were build rapidly, in low quality and shorter life spans - as disposable goods. Furthermore, when suburbs spread, many of them expanded into unattractive locations, developing a pattern that was difficult to adjust afterwards, making those homes unsuitable for re-use or re-selling (Fujitsu Research Institute, 2015). Today those are the suburbs that suffer most from an increasing number of vacant homes. In Japan the size of household is decreasing: in 1950 it was approximately 5 people, 3.22 in 1980, 2.42 in 2010 and is estimated to decline to 2.31 by 2025. (Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 2010; Nishioka H. et al, 2011). The growing number of unmarried people in their 30s and 40s is one of the reasons why there is an increase of vacancies in suburbs and increase in condominiums in Tokyo. Children leave their parental home in suburbs, parents get old and homes eventually become vacant (Kubo et al., 2015, pp. 126). Residential homes tend to fall vacant also because owners are waiting to sell it or they move to a nursery home and after their death inheritors see little need to renovate it (Jonas, Rahmann, 2014, pp. 122; Kubo T., et al., 2015, pp. 135). One of the biggest problems is that vacant homes do not occur in a continuous manner. Even though there are less tax payers, the same amount of roads and parks has to be maintained for the remaining population therefore creating financial burdens (Harding R., 2015). In addition to that, people become scarce, public transportation - infrequent and more shops go out of business. Eventually, when left unsupervised, vacant homes cause problems such as falling of debris, they become hotbeds for crimes, have undesirable influence on area image,

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landscape and urban cleanness (Konami H., 2013, pp. 3). Factors that also contribute to the increase of vacant homes are: economic decline, demographic changes, urban policies, tax regulations, disasters and especially new developments in other areas. Usually, when population grows in one area it declines in another one, because residents are attracted by a life with new homes, quality public spaces, greenery, shopping opportunities and sufficient infrastructure. In upcoming years, Japanese will have even more choices of where to live, as there will be more vacant homes. Only the most attractive suburbs will experience growth - it means that higher standards will be needed for housing, including size and quality, especially for the areas that cannot provide good connectivity to public transport nods. Even though the economic situation with population decline has been precarious, the constructions are still continuing with approximately 800 000 new homes each year (Fujitsu Research Institute, 2015). With these numbers, Japan gives the impression that these decisions to continue further developments are still based on predictions of population growth (Flutcher, 2012, pp. 28). However, according to the Fujitsu Research Institute (2015), almost 1/3 houses in Japan will be vacant by the year 2033 if the current pace of new constructions continues, compared to 23%, if there were twice as less of new constructions. Such continuous growth will further lead to deteriorating quality of residential suburbs and given the forecast of Japan’s low birth rates, ageing population and reluctance to allow more immigrants, it is clear that the issue of vacant homes is unstoppable.

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28.5 28.4

30 25

22.8 22.1

20 15

Japan (pas data) Japan (Case 1) Japan (Case 1) Tokyo (past data) Tokyo (Case 1)

10 5 0

Tokyo (Case 2) 58 63 68 73 78 83 88 93 98 03 08 13 18 23 28 33

Figure 57. Vacant Housing Rates in 20 Years (Japan and Tokyo). Based on data from Fujitsu research Institute, 2015 a) Case 1: Number of new constructions - recent average value Demolitions - average of past 10 years (2003-2008 and 2008-2013) b) Case 2: New Constructions - starting at recent average, reduced incrementally every 5 years to reach 50% of initial value by 2029-2033.

Figure 58. Vacant plot in Kashiwa Village

Figure 59. Vacant plot in Kashiwa Village

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“Social isolation fosters an unhealthy lifestyle and leaves people without a purpose in life� (Coulmas, 2007, pp. 31). This chapter reflected on main physical characteristics in post-war Tokyo suburbs. Since these issues define the environment in residential suburbs, they can also affect the resident’s life quality on the social level. -Insufficient infrastructure - lack of sidewalks, playgrounds, parks, long distances to public facilities and commercial centres is one of the main reasons why people cannot fully enjoy life in suburbs. It can discourage residents, especially children and elderly, from going out as there are no activities for them or no means to get to places that offer those activities (lack of public transport). Geriatric gerontologists have confirmed that such social isolation can cause a decline in intellectual activities of people, especially elderly, making it hard for them to shop, cook food and communicate with neighbours (Kumagai et al. cited in Ito et al., 2015, pp. 116).

works of older dwellers are decreasing, they have reduced access to social hubs and less chances of forming new acquaintances (Figure 61)(Ito et al., 2015, pp. 107). -The number of vacant homes is directly linked to the growing ageing-low births rate issue. When population declines, more vacancies occur and the quality of the existing suburban environment deteriorates. This problem is even more exacerbated by new suburban developments elsewhere, which Japanese people prefer. Finally, when there are no new occupants and no incentives left to revitalize or to invest in older neighbourhoods, it leaves the remaining residents socially isolated in declining environments.

-Mix use developments, although in some cases contributing liveliness of an area, can also affect the social life and health of residents. They create an unpleasant environment to be in with undesirable industrial companies or parking lots, settled nearby and polluting the surroundings. In such areas residents are less eager to go out, as the activities to take on and people to interact with are scarce. Today these issues, created by post-war growth, have become more enhanced with low birth rates, ageing population and increase of vacant homes. -Ageing and low birth rates strongly affect old suburban neighbourhoods, where together with the population, community vitality is declining too. Nowadays such areas are unbalanced - mostly occupied by elderly, as younger generations are less eager to have children and especially live in old suburban settlements. Therefore the social net-

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As society changes, the mindset for creating solutions to social problems has to change too. New attitude must adopted that would allow to create future strategies regarding mentioned issues. Possibilities in decline will be investigated in the next section.

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8.5% 2.4% Overall




Single Couple Other Total Person Only Households Households Households




Single Couple Other Total Person Only Households Households Households



Figure 60. Percentage of elderly who have no one to ask for help. Based on data from White Paper on Elderly Care, Cabinet Office of Japan (2013)

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0





























Single Couple Other Total Person Only Households Households Households

Single Couple Other Total Person Only Households Households Households

Male Little or no contact

Female Make greetings

Close relationships

Figure 61. Elderly’s links with community. Based on data from White Paper on Elderly Care, Cabinet Office of Japan (2013)

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Figure 62. Kashiwa Village, 2013

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POSSIBILITIES IN DECLINE The next section of the paper will present the possibilities for future planning of suburbs in Japan. Kashiwa Village in Chiba prefecture will serve as a design case study where solutions will be provided.

“Emptiness does not merely imply simplicity of form, logical sophistication, and the like. Rather, emptiness provides a space within which our imaginations can run free, vastly enriching our powers of perception and our mutual comprehension.“ (Kenya Hara, 2008 cited in Jonas M., Rahmann H., 2014.)

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Occurrence of vacant properties is usually perceived as a sign of decline and social stagnation. Nonetheless, the idea of undefined environment, that does not fit into a category can be viewed as tabula rasa for re-creating a derelict space. The alternative spaces are contrary to planned and predictable environments, therefore they seem more attractive and offer more spatial and social liberty in a homogeneous landscape (Jonas M., Rahmann H., 204, pp. 34). Strong aspects of Japanese mentality include communal sense of responsibility and organisation skills. Many spaces have the characteristics to become appropriated, but it is the people’s initiative that helps to realize that (Frank, Stevens, 2007, pp. 10). There has been a shift in Japanese society: people have become more active and conscious about their surroundings. That is also a side effect of education about environmental awareness and traditions that have been lost in past decades of focusing on economic growth (Jonas, Rahmann, 2014, pp. 39). It is visible in areas that are suffering from population decline - people themselves are using vacant plots as third places, because they offer an opportunity to experiment with setups, that would usually not be permitted in more formal public spaces. Such setups can include informal interventions and activities like workshops, crafting, gardening or food production. Rice farm in Ginza, Kasu Harappa ONDI rental vacancy in Yanaka, container library and plaza in Kitakyushu (Figure 63) and many more serve as examples of vacant land re-use.

one kilometre south east of Kashiwanoha-Campus Station, is being used as a community garden under Kashiniwa Program, for free and it provides open spaces for town events, sport activities or vegetable gardens. The basic preparations were done by middle age or elderly citizens (The University of Tokyo, 2015, pp. 133) (Figure 65). Garden was regularly used for sports, as a play field for children, for flower, vegetable growth, group exercises and activities such as One Coin Club (when residents chip in 500 yen and gather to talk and drink each Sunday after moving the grass). Community members water, plant, prune the plants with support from garden managers, and share the harvest amongst themselves. This allows to form relationships between users and watch out for one another, check if anyone is absent (The University of Tokyo, 2015, pp. 134). Over time, as the project became more successful, it also became more inclusive. It grew from a place dedicated for members of community council to a place where anyone who was interested - was welcome. Jiyu-hiroba has proven to be a successful solution to vacant property problem in suburbia and has been able to reduce social stagnation amongst the community members. This case shows how changes that have begun with small informal interventions in vacant properties can grow into a bigger or permanent phenomena. Such alternative appropriations of unused spaces can become a method of converting vacant lands for community needs as they can encourage social interaction, participation and formation of community ties (Jonas, Rahmann, 204, pp. 40).

Jiyu-hiroba in Kashiwa city Measures were taken to utilize a vacant lot by conducting a social experiment called Choi-nou (community based petit agriculture), (Figure 64, Figure 65). It was organized by town council and the main objective was to manage the increasing number of suburban vacant lots as shared public spaces (The University of Tokyo, 2015, pp. 129). Jiyu-hiroba (Liberty field), owned by Kashiwa city,

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The New National Spatial Strategy Possibilities in decline have been recognized on a national scale as well with The New National Spatial Strategy (National plan or NNSS), that was introduced in 2015. It is sets directions for upcoming 10 years in Japan and introduces possible future planning changes for declining and ageing areas, including suburbia.

Figure 63. Community space in Kitakyushu

Figure 64. Community garden in Kashiwa City

Figure 65. Location of Jiyu-hiroba garden

Firstly, NNSS sees the demographic challenges as a opportunity with less traffic congestions, environmental pressure and more flexibility in land use, promoting necessary care facilities in existing residential neighbourhoods. Secondly, it recommends the enhancement of technological and institutional innovations to retain good life quality, encourages women to have longer careers, provides better commuting, child-care conditions in order to combine jobs and family (OECD, 2016, pp. 3). Urban planning-wise, it promotes compact cities, improvement of networks, more interaction between areas and exchange of ideas, services, goods. In addition to that, new revitalisation strategies are promoted and are based on assets and potentials found in local contexts, as it is the diversity of each area that can attract people and investments (OECD, 2016). Therefore NNSS suggests that the idea of change based only on external actions should be abandoned and areas are encouraged to focus on their own potentials and identities (OECD, 2016, pp. 18). Since this strategy was adopted in 2015, it is to early to predict whether it is successful or what will be the long-term impact of the future Japan. The plan itself is responsive to what has been happening in Japan, but it’s implementation will take years, since a well-designed spatial proposition is required for each specific case.

“Intricate minglings of different uses in cities are not a form of chaos. On the contrary, they represent a complex and highly developed form of order.� Jane Jacobs R. Ropolaite | 2016



Although the number of issues is lesser and they are not as severe due to the planning organization, well-planned New Towns and large-scale developments like Kashiwa Village do suffer from same social problems as the rest of suburbia. Japanese residential suburbs developed in 1960s1970s are now facing numerous challenges. They have to become attractive for younger people or will turn into “ghost towns“ with numerous vacant houses. Such neighbourhoods have a higher risk of turning into declining communities because of ageing and because detached homes in suburbia are less popular in second-hand markets (Kubo T., et al. 2015, pp. 123). In planned residential districts population increases naturally when people move in the beginning, it peaks and then declines, when children leave homes and parents grow old. Afterwards, the size of population mainly depends on housing demand in suburban residential districts (Sato, 2006, pp. 4). In some cases the populations begin to increase due to subdivision of residential lots or new developments. In others, that are not changing, population continues to decrease with occurrence of vacant homes, which can lead to further social and physical decline.

(Figure 72 - Figure 83, pages 58-59). Before the development, it was a rural area, with small plots of rice fields covering the lower altitude land, where Kashiwa Village is right now. The clusters of residential homes were built in the higher altitude (due to the floods) and have remained there to this day. One can distinguish the older developments from the newer ones, as the homes in the old parts are built irregularly in different architectural styles and have lower quality (vacant homes can be observed there) (Figure 91 on page 65). Design of Kashiwa Village resembles the suburbs in North America - with homogeneous function and cul-de-sac streets. All homes are detached, with very small gardens facing south. Nevertheless, unlike in typical cul-de-sac developments, (which are often criticized for encouraging car dependency and increasing the length of journey to nearby places (Booth, 2007), the green alleys in the backs of detached dwellings do not increase the usage of cars for local trips in the village and allow filtered permeability for pedestrians. The alleyways form axes through the area and connect them to shotengai, the shopping street, which is the only commercial spot in the village.

Kashiwa Village Kashiwa Village is a residential suburb with a population of 5000 people. It is located in Chiba prefecture, which has been generally growing with households, not with the company sector (Hebbert M., 1994, pp. 76). Kashiwa Village development began in 1979 and was build up in at least two decades. The town was developed gradually. First the homes along the main road were build, in order to create a welcoming impression for newcomers. Later on different patches of plots were developed, leaving the central ones to be developed last, as it was more profitable to sell them later (Murakami et al., 2016),

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Figure 66. water

Public green,


Figure 67. Boundaries

Figure 68. Pedestrian paths

Figure 69. Functions: educational and

Figure 70. Roads

Figure 71. Building scale R. Ropolaite | 2016

residential, commercial


Figure 72. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1947

Figure 73. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1955

Figure 74. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1961

Figure 75. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1967

Figure 76. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1974

Figure 77. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1979

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Figure 78. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1984

Figure 79. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1989

Figure 80. Area of Kashiwa Village in 1999

Figure 81. Area of Kashiwa Village in 2005

Figure 82. Area of Kashiwa Village in 2008

Figure 83. Area of Kashiwa Village in 2012

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Access The village is car dependant, with 86.3% of residents using a car as main mode of transportation. The closest railway stations are Kashiwa-no-ha Campus Station and Kashiwa-Tanaka Station, both of which are 27-30 minutes away on foot (Figure 85). For local matters people tend to cycle (35.2 %) or walk (41.5%) (Figure 84). However, it can be too difficult for some elderly residents, as Kashiwa Village is in a lower altitude than it’s surroundings. The public transportation system is used by 53.7% of residents, but is not convenient enough, since buses do not have flexible timetables, therefore are further promoting car ownership (Fatoma D., et al., 2014).


86.3 % 16.1 %


41.5 %


35.2 %


53.7 %

Bus Motorcycle

4.0 % Figure 84. Main mode of transportation.

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Kashiwa-T anaka Station. 27 min. wa lking 7 min. by c ar

a o-h on. n . wa ati shi us St lking a K mp wa . Ca min. y car 30 in. b 9m

Figure 85. Case of Kashiwa Village. Travelling time to the nearest railway stations on foot is 27 and 30 minutes. By car - 6 and 9 minutes.

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Greenery - asset of Kashiwa Village An important feature of Kashiwa Village is that residents are highly fond of agriculture and gardens: greenery is the most dominant physical characteristic in the area (Figure 87). People’s affection for plants is evident when walking in Kashiwa Village - the pedestrian paths and private properties are well-maintained. Individual efforts can be seen at every house, which is decorated with flower pots, bushes, trees and in the central public pathways connecting the village (Figure 86). With decreasing and ageing of population of the area, the amount of vacancies will only increase, as well as the number of people who will no longer be able to maintain their properties. Therefore knowledge and admiration for greenery can be seen as a part of Kashiwa Village-specific future strategy. This asset can be further exploited when managing vacant properties.

Figure 86. Residents of Kashiwa Village maintaining the streetscape

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Figure 87. Greenery in Kashiwa Village

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Age of residents, household size and future population Kashiwa Village was designed in 1979 and the new homes were occupied by nuclear families, that were dominant at that time. Today the children of those families had grown up and moved out, leaving their ageing parents alone. Traces of decline and ageing society are already visible in the physical environment of Kashiwa Village. One can observe vacant homes and empty lots (Figure 89 - Figure 92). According to questionnaires, conducted by The University of Tokyo (2015), 37.2% of the residents in Kashiwa Village are 20-39 years old, 54.3 % of residents are 40 - 61 years old, 22.7 % are 65-71 years old, 10.9 % are over 75 years old. Less than 20 % of the residents are 19 years old and younger (Figure 88). The dominant size of a household in Kashiwa Village is 2 people (43.8 %), 3 members (24.9%) and


4 members (18.23%). 6.5 % of people live alone. However, there cases in Kashiwa Village when families buy two homes and settle next to each other: one house is for younger and the other for older generation (Murakami et al., 2016).

After the second phase of Kashiwa-no-ha development (Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City, 2015), the situation might in Kashiwa Village might become more critical. The mixture of future functions in Kashiwa-no-ha - new residences, night life, parks, schools and proximity to the railway station will entice new residents to move in. Furthermore, the current development in Omuro, an area next to Kashiwa Village along the Tsukuba Express railway line, is more attractive to new residents, both for it’s location and new homes. Such developments in the surrounding areas will make the possibility of population growth in Kashiwa Village less realistic.

5.2 %

Elementary School

5.7 %

Middle School - Age 19

7.9 % 37.2 %

Ages 20-39

54.3 %

Ages 40-61 Ages 65-71 Ages 75+ No other family members in household

22.7 % 10.9 % 7.5 %

Figure 88. Age of household members. Based on data from University of Tokyo 64 |

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Figure 89. Vacant cafe in Kashiwa Village

Figure 90. Old structures in Kashiwa Village

Figure 91. Vacant house in Kashiwa Village

Figure 92. Vacant plot used as a garden in Kashiwa Village

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Kashiwa Village from residents perspective During a survey, conducted in Kashiwa Village by The University of Tokyo (2015), specific qualities and desires for the area were discovered. Residents were asked about their life, experience of living in Kashiwa Village and what they think is needed. Main desires for the village included improvement of physical environment, support of existing residents and community revitalization (Figure 93). According to the dwellers, the most needed improvements for Kashiwa Village, regarding physical improvement, are finding solutions to vacant homes, preserving and improving the green environment, providing more park benches, places for casual sports and most importantly - improving transportation means and convenience levels (Figure 94). For community, people are hoping for more support regarding oldest and youngest dwellers, promotion of resident interaction and most importantly - encouraging entry of young new residents. With the population decline in Kashiwa Village, more vacant homes occur, shops go out of business

and such properties require site-specific solutions, therefore, people were asked about possible measures for re-using vacant buildings in Kashiwa Village (Figure 95). Since the lowest satisfaction level included shopping facilities and transportation, according to the residents, the most useful way to use these vacant buildings is to provide more shopping facilities, that sell fresh food and daily goods with a delivery service option. Creating more healthcare institutions and consultation services was another desire of the residents. The members of households with children hoped for a playground or temporary child care facilities. The mentioned needs are rather typical for an old residential suburb, like Kashiwa Village, since ageing has become evident, convenience level and community sense has declined.

This information was confirmed and explored in further detail during the meeting with members of Kashiwa Village Residents Association (see page 68).

Heightened townscape and safety Increase in child population, transition to a new generation Revitalized community Improved transportation Improved shopping convenience Community that helps one another Management of vacant homes 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200

Figure 93. The community’s expectation. Based on data from University of Tokyo

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Supporting the elderly Supporting child-raising Encouraging entry of younger people Finding solutions to vacant homes Improving the green environment Servicing park benches Providing more casual sports Opening restaurants Improving transportation Promoting resident interaction 0






Figure 94. Desires for Kashiwa Village. Based on data from University of Tokyo really agree a little agree not so agree not agree

Fresh food Sales of daily goods Delivery service for items Health and recreation Bar-time on certain days Plaza for children Temporary child-care Supplementary study services Flea market

Exchange or sale of recyclable items Self-conducted classes Events (Shogi- Japanese chess) Computer classes Rental offices Health consultation services Concierge services 0






Figure 95. Desires for vacant shops. Based on data from University of Tokyo R. Ropolaite | 2016


Meeting with Kashiwa Village Residents Association members Provided below are more information pieces from the meeting of the author, students Moriya, Makino and prof. Okabe with Kashiwa Village Residents Association members (Tanigawa, Takeda, Murakami and Akedo), that helped to support this research about Tokyo residential suburbs. During this meeting different aspects of life in Kashiwa Village were discussed - residents, relationship with neighbours, needs, convenience, ageing and decline and other. -Most of the residents were born during the babyboom period (born 1947-1949), majority of them work in Tokyo and 1/3 of residents have worked overseas. -Even though living spaces are smaller than in Western countries, residents do not interact as much as one might expect. Most of them work in Tokyo and tend to communicate or form acquaintances during community festivals or local events.

-New developments around Tsukuba Express reduce the chances that more people will move into Kashiwa Village, as Japanese are usually tempted by newer homes. -Residents do understand that because of shrinking such improvements regarding convenience are difficult to realize. For example, Kashiwa Village School has the capacity for 1200 students and only 250 students. -10 years ago such proposals, regarding decline and social issues, were not seen as relevant as they are today - people are eager to learn of what could be done for their village. -Kashiwa Village has a lot of greenery and is serene. Dwellers are contempt with it, but they do express a need for more bustle, younger people, communication amongst themselves, more convenience and “an open space which would naturally make residents go outside“.

-Residents highly expressed a need for general improvement of convenience - better public transport, shopping opportunities, as the shops in the local shotengai do not suffice. Most of residents go shopping elsewhere, because the variety is higher and prices are lower than in the local convenience shop. However, residents and especially the elderly, who cannot drive, have to rely on the local shopping street (that is why it was re-opened again in 2015, after being closed in 2012). -The situation in surrounding areas has changed drastically since Tsukuba Express was implemented. New developments are occurring around the railway and Kashiwa Village is now considered a more remote area. Bus service operates once an hour, due to the low number of users and majority of the dwellers have to rely on cars.

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Figure 96. Meeting the members of Kashiwa Village Residents Association

Figure 97. Meeting with members of Kashiwa Village Residents Association in Kashiwa Village Community Centre

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Informal solutions that could improve the physical conditions in the village and contribute to community vitality will be investigated. The suggestions bellow address the current and future issues in suburbs that were mentioned before - lack of proper infrastructure, mixed-use developments, social isolation, ageing and vacant house issues. The different designs can response to multiple issues at the same time, as they are linked with each other. A vacant land can spark a change that can turn a deprived property into a socially active third place, as in examples mentioned earlier (see page 54). However, in order to maintain suburbs, different measures must be provided - community services for the elderly, management systems for vacancies and improvement of existing properties to attract different people (Murayama, Okata, 2010, pp. 32). The image of surroundings can be kept welcoming by adapting vacant lands and houses. These changes may begin with small steps and over time gradually evolve into a bigger scale project, as in the case of Jiyu-hiroba in Kashiwa city. Different land uses and connected designs create accessible and safe pedestrian areas (Dimmer, 2012, pp. 82). As more unused properties occur, more of them could be combined into a continuous cluster of vacancies and be adapted for specific uses. If the vacant land is being used it contributes to the image and improvement of the neighbourhood, instead of worsening it.

The process When the number of vacant properties becomes higher, Land Readjustment principles can allow the creation of a space that would suit the future needs of the village.

beneficial for the maintenance village. Most of the buildings in Kashiwa Village are over 30 years old and many have already been renovated. The habit of demolishing buildings over the age of 30 in Japan might be efficient for relieving the issue of vacant homes, since the government does not support renovation of private properties (Sorensen, 2006, pp. 234). These reasons and processes may allow to accomplish the gathering scattered vacant properties into one continuous community space. The chosen project area is in the centre of the village. It allows equal access for the residents, has good connectivity to the shopping street and public pedestrian alleys (Figure 98). With Land Readjustment people would remain as owners of their land. However, if they feel incapable to supervise the plot themselves, they could decide on other supervisors, who would do it for them. The cooperation with residents is essential in order to maintain the plots and for this strategy to work. Therefore, it is necessary to agree that the plots would be used and co-managed by the dwellers, who are willing to maintain and respect it. Benefits of such arrangement can be mutual, both for the vitality of neighbourhood and for the owner, who will have his land taken care of. If a person still lives in the planned project area, an alternative could be offered. Another vacant home in the area can serve as a new habitat. That would allow the owner to keep the original land and have a home nearby. This strategy of inner-migration could be implemented, because during the meeting with members of Kashiwa Village Resident’s Association, it was confirmed that there are already approximately 10 households in Kashiwa Village that have moved from one house to another within the village area (Murakami et al., 2016).

Vacant plots, as mentioned earlier, usually occur in a haphazard manner, scattered around the area, therefore concentrating them into one area is more 70 |

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Figure 98. Occurrence of vacant lands over time as population declines and organization with Land Readjustment. A possible scenario based on research findings about vacant homes and population statistics. R. Ropolaite | 2016 |71

Figure 99. Kashiwa Village plan 72 |

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Contents of shared space and impact

Avoiding the tragedy of the commons

The properties would be joined together into a bigger network of small individual spaces with different uses, because they have different owners (Figure 99). These uses can include what was missing in Kashiwa Village and what people need - recreational spaces with benches, playgrounds, sports and other activities (see pages 66-67). Implementation of such activities in vacant lands would amend for the small outdoor spaces in private plots, which prevent dwellers from having more activities (Figure 100 on page 74).

“There is an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits� (Investopedia, 2016).

Furthermore, such informal spaces allow to develop social networks, relationships in community, organize system of mutual help, garbage collecting and other improvements. The connection of these lots, would encourage the gathering of different people in one area, prevent social isolation and enable elderly to have their contribution to the community (Coulmas, 2007, pp. 32). Jane Jacobs and economist Robert Lucas said that economic activity and clusters of people are the basis of economic life for cities and suburbs (Florida R., 2011, pp. 6). When different people communicate they create new ideas, activities and increase productivity. Plus long life span of elderly in Japan allows to effectively use their knowledge and experience (Third United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, 2014). Therefore over a long period of time, as area starts becoming more active and attractive, hopefully, it can stabilize the population decline and, if it is extremely successful, even entice new residents, who prefer life in suburbia, to settle there.

Generally, when the resource of interest is easily available to all individuals, that is when the tragedy of commons occurs. Nevertheless, where property rights are clear and secure, the tragedy of commons is less likely to happen, because the owner makes sure that land is neither over-used, nor under used, for himself and for others who value it (Mcardle M, 2012; Harding, 1968; pp. 125). Other measures to prevent it is the creation of incentives (assigning responsibilities to the land) for the users and encouraging them to maintain and invest in it, instead of over-exploiting it (Ostrom, E., et al., 1999, pp. 279). Since the properties in suggested design of Kashiwa Village belong to private owners, they would prevent the tragedy of commons in their land.

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Figure 100. Redeveloped area. Gardens 74 |

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There is always the possibility that some owners will refuse to give up their land for such a project. If that would happen, continuous space could not be achieved in the chosen area. Nevertheless some alternatives can be offered. Reducing the village size. A different, less central and attractive location could be chosen, like at the edge of the village. In such case the planned common space would become an extension to a already existing park and would require less efforts to maintain the infrastructure in the future.

Figure 101. Alternative plan 1 R. Ropolaite | 2016


Islands of shared spaces. The shared spaces demonstrated in initial strategy could occur in smaller clusters of properties. That would be achieved by the neighbours who are willing to connect their unused properties into a bigger social hub.

Figure 102. Alternative plan 2 76 |

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Converting vacant houses into needed mixed functions for local residents Occurrence of vacant homes highly depends on the age and size of the household. Home with a single owner, has a higher possibility to become vacant, than a household with a few people or a household with children. As the size of the household declines, the space, that was designed for four or five people (a nuclear family), becomes a burden for one or two people left living there. A question is raised - what can be done with the excess space? Past design suggestions for Kashiwa Village’s revitalization included using buildings as rental spaces for travellers or students. It does not seem to be a proper suggestion to use them for travellers, since there are no sights to see in Kashiwa Village that would require staying overnight. Allowing to convert homes for students could a more suitable decision, since the campus of University of Tokyo is located in nearby Kashiwa-no-ha, plus students would bring more vitality. Furthermore it would allow elderly singles in Kashiwa Village to feel safer if students rented and lived nearby (Murakami et al., 2016). However, unless a more frequent schedule for public transportation is provided, it may be too far for some students, as the university is an hour away on foot and thirty minutes by bicycle. When analysing the movements in Kashiwa Village, it became clear that green pedestrian axes in the centre of the village serve as connectors, since they go through entire length of the neighbourhood. Homes located by the axes have more exposure to the public eye and are accessible from different sides (Figure 99 on page 72). Therefore, if a home falls vacant there, it could be suitable for other purposes than just residential: re-activated ground floors of vacant buildings could encourage public uses along the existing pedestrian paths and help maintain vitality of the village (Dimmer, 2012, pp. 81).

“Mixed development can weaken the process of ageing in Japanese suburban neighbourhoods, while detached-house neighbourhoods with white-collar residents are the most dangerous in terms of social sustainability� (Kubo et al. cited in Kubo et al., 2015, pp. 132).

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One house Few strategies of how a house can be adapted according to the needs of residents will be presented. 1. Some of the elderly in Kashiwa Village would like to reside on the ground floors of their homes, as they have troubles climbing stairs to the first floor (Murakami et al., 2016). Therefore the first floor could be adapted to a separate rental apartment for the students. 2. A house could be retrofitted by adapting building’s ground floor, if the resident wants to live in his own private home, but does not need all the space and is healthy enough to reside on the first floor. A productive and mutually beneficial way to use the

excess space would be to allow the ground floors of buildings be converted to publicly accessible spaces of social and economic stabilization for the area. Such spaces would include classes, health-care centre, shops for fresh food, daily goods or gardening supplies (Figure 103, Figure 104).

Figure 103. Re-use of a ground floor for a shop 78 |

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Figure 104. Re-use of a ground floor for a shop

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Two houses A single home may be too small for facilities that require more space such as temporary child care or housing for the elderly, therefore the ground floor space of two buildings could be joined together into one facility. This strategy will be appealing for seniors in Kashiwa Village who will not be able to live by themselves (Murakami et al., 2016). Creating day services for elderly with combination of nursery schools for children is a beneficial option for the elderly, who can be assigned certain tasks. Age-integrated facilities started to occur in metropolitan areas with the higher number of single households and elderly living alone. Example

of such facility is Day care House in Toyama prefecture, Japan, that is open to infants, older people and is occupied by professionals and volunteers (Coulmas, 2007, pp. 35). The main characteristics of homes like Kono Yubi Tomare “is that they are small, multifunctional, and rooted in the local community� (Research Committee on Aged Society with Declining Birthrate House of Councillors, 2007, pp. 26). In Kashiwa Village such functions would also have similar characteristics, since the existing vacant homes would be adapted.

Figure 105. Conversion of two homes into a child-care facility and a elderly-car facility 80 |

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Figure 106. Transformation to a elderly-care facility of two houses

Figure 107. Transformation to a child-care facility of two houses

Figure 108. Exterior of re-used residential building R. Ropolaite | 2016


The structure Not all homes are suitable enough to be re-used because their wooden structure is deteriorating and cannot support the entire load. Nevertheless, while demolishing a home, if they have a good condition, the relevant structures could be left in situ and function as a base for a smaller structure - a shed for storage, public bathroom, communal kitchen, workshop space or a community hub.

stead of spending money on new constructions and does not disturb the existing architectural image of the neighbourhood.

As more vacancies occur in deprived areas, the re-use of buildings starts a necessary revitalization process to retain existing population and introduce needed services. These methods of re-using a home create different ways of adapting what is given, in-

Figure 109. Re-using existing building structures 82 |

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Figure 110. Common gardens

Figure 111. Re-used structure

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Figure 112. Redeveloped area - gardens 84 |

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CONCLUSIONS The next and final section of the paper will summarize the research findings, present future research directions and highlight the main points.

“Every true suburb is the outcome of two opposing forces, an attraction toward the opportunities of the great city and a simultaneous repulsion against urban life� (Fishman 1987, p. 26)

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Today in Japan the initial suburban concept is not working as it used to. The society has shifted: people are ageing, households have decreased, young people are postponing marriages and moving to the city centres (OECD, 2016, pp. 66). Many of them find suburbia alienating and dull, they do not want to live in sprawling automobile dependant suburbs. Most of young working adults prefer to enjoy the mix of functions during day and night time, have more opportunities to choose from- all of which can be provided by urban lifestyle. Therefore, suburban areas, old ones in particular, have to become more mixed in order to attract younger population and retain their vitality. They have to become more urban.

Recent changes and presentations of new policies set an optimistic tone, however it is uncertain what impact it will have in the future.

Situation of Tokyo suburbia is varied. Some suburbs (newer ones) are experiencing an increase in suburban population, older ones - a decline - there is no common generalization. Suburbs in Tokyo have complicated patterns, therefore it is hard to distinguish some typologies. Nevertheless, the main difference is the physical layout: it is obvious that some areas were well-planned and some were left to grow haphazardly. However, from the research it became obvious that it does not affect the social aspects as one might have expected. Both in well-planned and unplanned areas same social issues occur and their impact mostly depends on the location - connectivity to a transport nod, age of the area (the newer-the more attractive it is) and the functions it has. Japan’s peculiar situation and manner of growth is complex, making it hard to predict the direction in which suburbs will go. It is possible that in future there will be less investments in constructions. Land prices will decrease, there will be less investments in remote areas and people will be more selective about where they live. Hopefully it will translate onto how land will be treated and it’s impacts on the social and environmental issues.

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Figure 113. Suburban activities

Figure 117. Urban activities

Figure 114. Suburban pattern

Figure 118. Urban pattern

Figure 115. Suburban interior

Figure 119. Urban interior

Figure 116. Suburban home

Figure 120. Urban home

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Location. Research conducted in this thesis provides an understanding of general situation in Tokyo suburbs. However, each suburban area has it’s own qualities and assets, therefore the solutions developed in this thesis, for a well-panned suburb such as Kashiwa Village, cannot be applied as a uniform to all residential Tokyo areas, even though Kashiwa Village is suffering from same issues as the rest of suburbs developed after WWII. Research in other suburban locations would lead to different design solutions. Implementation. Many designs tend to remain well-intended theories, however the implementation of such strategies is an important aspect as well. When talking with residents of Kashiwa Village, several question came up: how to manage such a strategy and implement it step by step? How will it work? Architects can indeed give suggestions and theories of how such a space could be managed, as it was done in this thesis. However, in order to achieve more concrete results, further analysis should be conducted, involving additional expert parties, as just architects alone are not enough to realize it and tackle through the bureaucratic obstacles, involving strong property ownerships in Japan.

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This research was aiming to explore the present and future relationship between built environment and social issues in Tokyo residential suburbs, considering the influence of decisions taken after WWII. During the post-war period the chaotic growth of suburbia required control and ever since, methods like Land readjustment or Machizukuri have helped to provide some order and achieve better results when planning or maintaining suburbs. When exploring suburbs in foreign megacities, a pattern occurred in it’s own specific shape for each city. The investigated suburbs had undergone major changes after WWII (or Korean War) and at some point in their history afterwards had a substantial increase in migrant population. Furthermore, they have similar characteristics of a well-functioning suburb, which is a mix use area, surrounded by residences. It is important to highlight, that even though the area is convenient from within, it’s location and connection to urban core tends to lessen the enjoyment of existing amenities by long commuting hours, as in the case of London. Seoul’s high rise suburban new towns feature islands of gated communities that have lively and safe atmospheres for pedestrians inside automobile-orientated suburban cities. Los Angeles is further developing itself as a post-suburban megacity and is concentrating on bigger or smaller scale inner (re)developments rather than continuous urban spread. Examples of suburbs in London and Seoul and Los Angeles, although they cannot be equalized or literally adapted, in one way or another prove that organised mix of functions is one of the keys when it comes to designing a well-functioning suburb.

In the case of Tokyo suburbia, spatial issues is the outcome of decisions taken after WWII, that can account for Japan’s economical success. Aiming singularly towards economic growth, at the same

time ignoring the needs for basic living conditions, was an important aspect of Japanese post-war history and has had strong effects on urban planning in today’s Japan. Five main characteristics of suburbia were discovered during the research: -Urban sprawl -Insufficient infrastructure -Mixed land uses -Ageing and low birth rates -Vacant homes -Social isolation These problems are linked together and can enhance each other. The three planning issues, accompanied by ageing and low birth rates with vacant home problem, can encourage social isolation in Tokyo residential suburbs. As all the issues are interconnected and deeply rooted, it is doubtful if by solving one, the others will become weaker and if it is even possible at all. The reasons that caused them are beyond architecture and involve social, economical and political layers. Nevertheless they can be stopped from further growth, reduced and improved. Keeping that in mind, it was asked what exactly can be done? What are the possibilities in decline? The further research tried to answer these questions. What can be done now is acknowledging the problems and ceasing the behaviour that continues to trigger them. The predictions for future should be accepted and the potential places should be improved. Future spending should be aimed towards improvements of worthy existing structures, small interventions, that would have a desired impact on residents, rather than new and unnecessary ones.

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Currently, the combination of mentioned issues, has encouraged a different mindset for urban planning in Japan: in local level it has been the spread of machizukuri activities, creation of third places and re-adaption of buildings for needed functions, like in mentioned cases of Tokyo, Kitakyushu, Kashiwa City.

be encouraged in other suburban areas that are coping with mentioned issues and completely different results would be achieved. That would allow each declining, but potential suburb to develop their own attractiveness and remain viable.

Government in Japan recognizes this opportunity too of “turning demographic challenges into opportunities” (OECD, 2016) with New National Spatial Strategy and setting a more optimistic tone for the future of the cities.

It is necessary to protect the characters and tranquillity of residential neighbourhoods, as those are just some of the few reasons why people are attracted by life in suburbs. However, in response to future decline issues, at the same time a mix of functions or smaller scale improvement projects should be introduced, as they are faster to implement and more effective when responding to the vitality problems and the size of the village. The design demonstrated in this thesis was specifically created for Kashiwa Village, keeping in mind it’s local assets, enhancing them and introducing additional needed uses, that help to cope with vacant home issue and social stagnation. It is important to realize that each suburb is different and providing more greenery and public spaces is not a strategy that will make all the problems go away. Kashiwa Village is already very green, but silent beautiful spaces in themselves, without general convenience, are not enough to retain vitality. In the case of Kashiwa Village, it was tried to demonstrate in greater detail, that decline can provide possibilities to “exploit and celebrate the absence of people“ (Koolhaas, 2016) and to reshape the existing living environment, based on local qualities of the area and knowledge of people. The strategy of using the existing resources could

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Figure 1. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on April 5, 2016] Figure 2. Based on Fujitsu Research Institute (2015) Numbers of residences, households, and vacant housing rate, Available at: [Accessed on November 7, 2015]. Figure 3. Based on National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (2010) Japan’s population by age group Available at: [Accessed on 31 May 2016] Figure 4.Suto Y. (2008) Potted Plants and House - Tsukishima [drawing] Available at: [Accessed on March 15, 2016]. Figure 5. Ropolaite R., (2016) [photograph]. Figure 6. Ibid. Figure 7. Ibid. Figure 8. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (1979) [Photograph]Available at: 5/35.362222/138.731389/&base=std&ls=std&disp=1&vs=c1j0l0u0f0 [Accessed on May 15, 2016] Figure 9. Hoshino (1949) ]Image] London, USA, Canada: Routledge Figure 10. Adapted from Tokyo Metropolitan Construction Department (1987: 21,34) [Image] London, USA, Canada: Routledge Figure 11. Author unknown. The First Land Pooling Project by the Kaohsiung City Government, Taiwan, Available at: [Accessed on 20 March, 2016]. Figure 12. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (1984) [Photograph]Available at: http://mapps.gsi. [Accessed on May 6, 2016] Figure 13. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on March 2, 2016] Figure 14. Adapted from Tokyo Metropolitan Government (1997:19) [Image] London, USA, Canada: Routledge. Figure 15. Adapted from Setagaya Ward Branch office Machizukuri Section (1993) [Image] London, USA, Canada: Routledge. Figure 16. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 17. Google, Daum, Google (2016) Available at: and http://map. [Accessed on 25 April, 2016]. Figure 18. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on April 15, 2016]. Figure 19. Ibid. Figure 20. Ibid. Figure 21. Ibid. Figure 22. Daum (2016) [Accessed on 16 April, 2016]. Figure 23. Ibid. Figure 24. Ibid. Figure 25. Ibid. Figure 26. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on April 17, 2016]. Figure 27. Ibid. Figure 28. Ibid. 96 |

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Figure 29. Ibid. Figure 30. Ibid. Figure 31. Ropolaite R., (2016) [drawing]. Figure 32. Daum (2016) [Accessed on 16 April, 2016] Figure 33. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 34. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on April 17, 2016] Figure 35. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 36. Ibid. Figure 37. Ibid. Figure 38. Ibid. Figure 39. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (1947); Google (2016) Available at: http://maps.gsi.go.j p/#5/35.362222/138.731389/&base=std&ls=std&disp=1&vs=c1j0l0u0f0 and [Accessed on May 10, 2016] Figure 40. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (1999) [Photograph]Available at: #5/35.362222/138.731389/&base=std&ls=std&disp=1&vs=c1j0l0u0f0 [Accessed on May 26, 2016] Figure 41. Ibid (2004) Figure 42. Ibid (2005) Figure 43. Ibid (2008) Figure 44. Ibid (2012) Figure 45. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on May 17, 2016] Figure 46. Author uknown [Photograph] Available at: photos.html [Accessed on May 29, 2016] Figure 47. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 48. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on June 2, 2016]; Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 49. Ibid. Figure 50. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Photograph]. Figure 51. Ibid. Figure 52. Ibid. Figure 53. Ibid. Figure 54. Ibid. Figure 55. Ibid. Figure 56. Ibid. Figure 57. Ibid. Figure 58. Based on data from Statistics Bureau, Ministry of International Affairs and Communications (2016) Available at: [Accessed on 1 May, 2016]. Figure 59. Based on Fujitsu Research Institute (2015) Vacant Housing Rates in 20 Years (Japan and Tokyo) Available at: [Accessed on November 7, 2015]. Figure 60.Ropolaite R., (2016) [Photograph].

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Figure 61. Ibid. Figure 62. Based on data from White Paper on Elderly Care, Cabinet Office of Japan (2013) Percentage of elderly who have no one to ask for help when they are in trouble. Available at:, [Accessed on 29 May, 2016]. Figure 63. Ibid. Figure 64. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (2013) [Photograph]Available at: #5/35.362222/138.731389/&base=std&ls=std&disp=1&vs=c1j0l0u0f0 [Accessed on May 20, 2016]. Figure 65. Author uknown [Photogrpah] Available at: [Accessed on 20 April, 2016]. Figure 66. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on May 15, 2016]. Figure 67. Ibid. Figure 68. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 69. Ibid. Figure 70. Ibid. Figure 71. Ibid. Figure 72. Ibid. Figure 73. Ibid. Figure 74. Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (1947) [Photograph]Available at: #5/35.362222/138.731389/&base=std&ls=std&disp=1&vs=c1j0l0u0f0 [Accessed on May 6, 2016] Figure 75. Ibid (1955). Figure 76. Ibid (1961). Figure 77. Ibid (1967). Figure 78. Ibid (1974). Figure 79. Ibid (1979). Figure 80. Ibid (1984). Figure 81. Ibid (1989). Figure 82. Ibid (1999). Figure 83. Ibid (2005). Figure 84. Ibid (2008). Figure 85. Ibid (2013). Figure 86. Based on data from University of Tokyo (2015) Main mode of transportation Available at: http:// ,[Accessed on March 1, 2016] Figure 87. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 88. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Photograph]. Figure 89. Ibid. Figure 90. Based on data from University of Tokyo (2015) Age of household members Available at: ,[Accessed on March 1, 2016]. Figure 91. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Photograph]. Figure 92. Ibid. Figure 93. Ibid.

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Figure 94. Ibid. Figure 95. Based on data from University of Tokyo (2015) The community’s expectation Available at: http:// ,[Accessed on March 1, 2016]. Figure 96. Ibid. Figure 97. Ibid. Figure 98. Moriya K., (2016) [Photograph]. Figure 99. Google (2016) Available at: [Accessed on May 25, 2016] Figure 100. Ropolaite R., (2016) [Drawing]. Figure 101. Ibid. Figure 102. Ibid. Figure 103. Ibid. Figure 104. Ibid. Figure 105. Ibid. Figure 106. Ibid. Figure 107. Ibid. Figure 108. Ibid. Figure 109. Ibid. Figure 110. Ibid. Figure 111. Ibid. Figure 112. Ibid. Figure 113. Ibid. Figure 114. Ibid. Figure 115. American Beauty (1999) Sam Mendes [DVD] USA: DreamWorks Figure 116. Author unknown. Available at: minmas_c_scale,w_1370.jpg [Accessed on 30 May, 2016]. Figure 117. American Beauty (1999) Sam Mendes [DVD] USA: DreamWorks Figure 118. Author unknown. [Photograph]Available at: [Accessed on 30 May, 2016] Figure 119. Author unknown. [Photograph]Available at: [Accessed on 30 May, 2016]. Figure 120. Jeffrey Martin (2012) Available at:[Accessed on May 30, 2016]. Figure 121. Lost In Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola [DVD] USA, Japan: Focus Features Figure 122. The Japan Times (2015) [Photograph] Available at: news/2015/07/03/business/salarymen-sidelined-chinese-descend-japan-property-market/#.V0wU-vl97Dc [Accessed on 30 May, 2013].

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Problems and possibilities. Tokyo residential suburbs  

Connection between physical conditions and social issues in declining outskirts of Tokyo

Problems and possibilities. Tokyo residential suburbs  

Connection between physical conditions and social issues in declining outskirts of Tokyo