Kichijoji's attractive points and real estate situation (1)

Words of wisdom from “real estate agents of the city” in the top ranked “cities people want to live in” That city’s attractive points and real estate situation (1)

This column always delivers news focused on real estate. However today we're changing tack and directly covering real estate companies in towns ranked top in terms of "where people want to live". We'll be talking about the area's charms, and unique traits, as well as the real estate state of play etc. By the way, these real estate companies aren’t large ones which simply have a branch in the area, but ones that have been rooted there for a long time while expanding their business; what you might call "the city's real estate agent". They are obviously the ones who should know most about the city's development, history and the real estate situation. In this series, by interviewing these real estate agents, we hope to discover some interesting stories and information,

Since this is the first time, we've singled out Tokyo's Musashino city's well known "Kichijoji". The JR Chuo line Kichijoji station area is fairly consistently ranked around the top 3 every year in magazines and other media's "places where people want to live" sections.

Mr Mitsuhiro Kurotake, CEO of the "Kurotake Building”, located five minutes walk from the station responded to our request for an interview. Kurotake building began when the previous CEO, Mitsuzo Kurotake, moved to the capital after World War 2, and started it as a company for real estate consulting and brokerage for apartment management and ownership in Kichijoji where his relatives lived. After that they began to develop into condominium and building management, up until the present day. They are currently working to develop a separate company for real estate brokerage and consultancy (Sunlight Ltd.).

"Actually, the temple that "Kichijoji" ("ji" meaning "temple") is named for, isn't near the station. In the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657 the majority of Edo (now known as Tokyo) was burned, causing the residents of the temple area around Suidobashi station to move to the Musashino area hoping to develop new fields, and thus cultivating the land. Those are the roots of the current Kichijoji". - Mr Kurotake

The number of people moving from the city centre increased due to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. After the war, the increasing population led to it becoming a commuter suburb. In the mid 1960s the development of Kichijoji station accelerated, and shops rapidly began to open in and around the area sandwiched between the 2 mains roads; Inokashira road which runs to Kansai, and Itsukaichikai road.

At the same time, the Kintetsu Department Store (currently Yodobashi Camera) and Isetan (currently Kopisu Kichijoji) and Tokyu department were intentionally distributed with enough distance to create a flow of people, in a plan to create a town that would make people go on outings. On the weekends, even now you can see many young people touring the city, doing so-called "City strolls". So why did Kichijoji become so popular with young people?

"First of all, it's got to be how great the location is. Its only 15 minutes to Shinjuku on the Chuo express, making it very convenient. Also, it's not just full of commercial facilities. About 1 or 2 minutes walk from the station is the large Inokashira park, so the nice environment is another reason." - Mr Kurotake. In that sense, Kichijoji is a skilled fusion of city and nature, what you might call "the original hybrid city". Further, after the war there was quick development of roads and other infrastructure, and this led to an abundance of commercial and cultural facilities. - Mr Kurotake continued.

"The main point is, the "regional climate" of the Kichijoji area. Originally it was people migrating from the Suidobashi area who developed Kichijoji, essentially outsiders. The frontier spirit of developing a new town from scratch, and the general spirit of people accepting those outsiders. Perhaps that's what led to the creative development of the town." - Mr Kurotake

These residents who were themselves from other areas, allowed other people from outside the region to open shops and use cultural facilities freely. It's said that many shops were opened in Kichijoji as a test before aiming for the city centre. As a result, shops influenced by new trends often line the streets of Kichijoji. (Continued in Part 2.)