Now a bit past 3 months after the March 11th disaster in Japan, we can observe some trends of changes to different aspects of life here. Here is one thing I could see on the real estate business 震災後 (post-disaster): there is a big focus on designing buildings that not only will withstand earthquakes, but will also help living conditions during the days or weeks without water/gas/electricity that follow as we continue to witness in Tohoku. Recently, on my way to work, I was handed a pamphlet outside my station for apartments for rent at a new building in Sugamo (Northern Tokyo). The 4xA4 page glossy paper advertisement shows on pages 1 & 3 pretty pictures of the interior and modern amenities. The back page shows a plan of the neighborhood and touts 0 key money, 0 agent fees and free rent and parking space for 2 months (this was already becoming more common before March). Pretty much standard… But on page 2, something new: a full-page dedicated to the “防災 qualities” (disaster prevention) of the building. Here is a scan with some explanations:
- The 2.2ha park in the middle of the grounds can hold 500 people camping for 1 week.
- Storage rooms hold water reserves, batteries, lamps, covers, radios, emergency toilets and other emergency supplies.
- Benches in the park can be converted to kitchen counter tops. The pergola can be tented over to provide shelter for refugees during bad weather. A line of multiple manholes is ready to set up emergency toilets.
- The building is 7.4km along main arteries from Otemachi (the traditional business center of Tokyo) meaning that even if all trains are stopped after a big earthquake you can walk home in about one hour and a half.