Tokiwadai Residential City Story 1

Introduction

Tokiwadai is the residential quarter of “elegant urban design” (so called by some city planning experts) in the Northwest of Tokyo. It was designed by the professionals of Ministry of Interior then responsible for the city planning of Tokyo, and developed by Tobu Railway, under the leadership of Kaichiro Nezu, one of the railroad tycoons, in early Show era, or in the late 1930s. It is often compared with Denenchofu and Seijogakuen as high quality suburban residential area with very comfortable environment created under the influence of the garden city movement in the West in the early 19th century.

The attractiveness of Tokiwadai is the elegant urban design which makes people who once visit and see the city inevitably to be reminded of. As a result of the research, I argue that it is resilient and robust since its strength is not superfluous but fundamental and structural, i.e., the curvature of the city design, the width of the road, the relatively higher proportion of public space, the greenery view, etc., together with the recently introduced regulations to restrict severe land fragmentations, while maintaining the effective use of the land.

The purpose of writing this book is twofold. The first is to reveal the distinct attractiveness of Tokiwadai. The second is to make clear necessary and appropriate measures to sustain its attractiveness in accordance with the change of time, in particular the extraordinary rises in land prices. I hope it is useful for readers interested in urban planning of residential quarters in the central and suburban Tokyo and other big cities.

I think I have mostly achieved the twofold purpose, particularly the first. The second is to be tested going forward. Yet, I think I have been able to lay down effective directions and guiding principles for the town development. I hope it provides useful and practical information, viewpoints, and analyses for those interested in living there, city planning, urban development, real estate investments etc. Of course, I am more than happy to get various opinions and criticisms from those engaged in city planning and development in practice and others freely.

I was born and brought up part of my life in Tokiwadai. The extraordinary cityscape was imprinted in my mind as a boy. I have seen several other what are called ‘high grade residential districts’ in Tokyo, since then. Each has its own distinctive beauty and attractiveness. Yet, none rivals the impression which Tokiwadai left in my mind. It is the depth of urban design that is outstanding, I believe.

The question is that the impression of Tokiwadai reflected on my mind as a boy was so strong that the images of the other towns I saw thereafter might have been dwarfed.

The answer to that question is written in this book. As a conclusion, it is not the distortion of the mind but there are objective factors which underlie the impression.

It usually the case that beauties are delicate and fragile. But the beauty of Tokiwadai is not fugitive and week but sturdy and strong. It is made clear in the following chapters. Or rather, I myself is able to realize myself the strengths of Tokiwadai by writing the book through research and analysis.

Tokiwadai is lessor known perhaps than Denenchofu and Seijogakuen. Yet, Tokiwadai is distinguished and outstanding in terms of urban design and can be said well-known only to those in the know. Therefore, it is highly regarded by those who once visit and/or live there, professional architects and city planning experts.

This book is comprised of five parts. The first is the history. The second is the regulations. The third is the comparisons. The fourth is the analysis. And the fifth is the interviews with the persons concerned with Tokiwadai community. I believe each provides useful information to readers, but the fourth, the analysis, in particular, is unique and distinctive, as it shows, the unique factor which determined the characteristics of Tokiwadai, for better or worse. Also, described are the economics of townscape and insights into how to preserve high quality residential surroundings and environment while maintaining effective and flexible use of lands.

 

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