Azabu Juban dead space in central Tokyo

Azabu Juban is one of Tokyo’s most central and most expensive neighborhoods. Arriving at the Tokyo Metro station for a meeting with a book editor, I was struck by just how unattractive the roadway is. In the opposite direction are small streets with traditional Japanese food, French cafes, and many charming places. But in this direction, there is a large swath of concrete plus interconnected elevated freeways.

This combination of high value real estate and astounding dead space also occurs nearby at Mori Building’s Roppongi Hills. I wonder if Japanese are particularly astute at ignoring the unaesthetic and directing their vision to the more attractive parts? How much more valuable would these neighborhoods be without the visual and air pollution caused by elevated freeways? How can a combination of private and public investment increase property and use values?

While freeway removal seems like the best solution, even hiding them with plants would greatly increase the property and use values below and adjacent to these dead spaces. An example are the beautiful mature ginkos in Sendagaya, at least when they are fully leafed out.

2 comments

  1. This looks a lot like parts of Beijing, particularly Guomao – the pricey part of town. I always just think, ‘Plant some trees!!! Green it up!!!’ It can be like Death Valley during the summer time, due to the lack of shade.

  2. I was working around that area until quite recently and couldn’t agree more. I went for a lunchtime stroll that took me alongside the above crossing the other day and was overwhelmed by how stifling the area feels without any foliage.

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