Impact of 3/11 disaster on Tokyo real estate marketing

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:


  1. The 2.2ha park in the middle of the grounds can hold 500 people camping for 1 week.
  2. Storage rooms hold water reserves, batteries, lamps, covers, radios, emergency toilets and other emergency supplies.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

The website for the building also has a page on its disaster prevention design.

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