Category Archives: BUSINESS

Local market report: Daikanyama (2019)

Daikanyama is as fashionable and trendy as Omotesando, but with a more laidback vibe on weekends. Sitting in a prime position between Ebisu and Shibuya Stations, it is a great place for a lucky few to call home. It is extremely difficult to find suitable homes and apartments on the market in this neighborhood due to a naturally limited inventory (a lot of the neighborhood is low-density), while many of the residents tightly hold onto their homes for the long-term.

Let’s take a look at the current real estate market conditions.


There were approximately 100 sale listings in the Daikanyama area as of May 2019. Over the past 12 months, the median list-to-sale time was 50 days, or just under 2 months.

The average apartment size of a current sale listing is 58.50 sqm (629 sq.ft). Almost 80% of listings are under 70 sqm in size, and less than 7% of listings are over 100 sqm in size.

The average asking price of an apartment is 1,350,000 Yen/sqm. For apartments over 100 sqm, the average price is 2,510,000 Yen/sqm. For apartments less than 10 years old, the average price is 1,960,000 Yen/sqm.

Almost half of the apartments for sale are in buildings over 30 years old. Newer construction is somewhat limited in this area due to the scarcity of development sites and the general low-density zoning of much of the neighborhood.

Only 2 of the sale listings have two bathrooms. One is tenanted and for investors only, leaving the only two-bath apartment in Daikanyama suitable for an owner-occupier priced at 880 million Yen (approx. 8 million USD).


Expect to pay between 125 ~ 500 million Yen for a house and land in the current market. The average age of a house currently for sale is 23.7 years, while the average house size …continue reading


150+ year old tea house discovered in Kyoto backyard

Left: A current image of the tea house (via the Kyoto Shimbun). Right: An early photograph of the tea house supplied by Okubo’s great-grandchild.

A tea house that once belonged to Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878) has narrowly escaped demolition in Kyoto. The owner has temporarily suspended demolition while the tea house is carefully dismantled and stored. Due to its historical significance, Kyoto City is considering potential ways to relocate and reconstruct it.

The pedigree of the tea house was discovered after careful examination by heritage experts. The tatami sizes matched those appearing in illustrations of a former estate, while the red pine alcove posts, lintels and other parts were estimated to date from the Bakumatsu period (1853-1867).

The property, which is on the eastern side of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, was once home to a larger estate used by Okubo between 1866 and 1868. The tea house has even older origins, having been relocated from samurai Komatsu Kiyokado’s estate. Japan’s so-called ‘scrap-and-build’ culture has its roots in the rapid post-war growth, and was much less of a phenomenon in earlier times. It was not uncommon for the upper classes to relocate older structures to their estates.

Okubo was a samurai, politician and, most notably, one of the Three Great Nobles of the Restoration. He is considered one the main founders of modern Japan. He was the one to ban samurai from wearing swords in public, and also introduced a more standardized land tax system. Okubo was assassinated outside the Imperial Palace gates in Tokyo in 1877. His great-great-grandchildren include 92nd Prime Minister Taro Aso, and Princess Nobuko.

The Okubo family sold the Kyoto estate in 1959.

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Pensions boss Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare set for split?


Rumours that the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare is targetted for breakup in an upcoming policy paper from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party broke cover in the Nikkei today.

The proposal is said to be part of a wider review of the structure of central government since it was reorganised two decades ago into 13 agencies and ministries. That reform included the amalgamation of the Ministry of Labor with the Ministry of Health & Welfare, a marriage which may now be dissolved.

In the intervening years the nw Ministry’s remit has expanded significantly so that it now covers job-based pension funds of all types.

As soon as the two were departments were conjoined the assets of many zaikei (savings accumulation) schemes, which had rested with the Ministry of Labour, were passed to SERAMA (The Smaller Enterprise Retirement Allowance Mutual Aid) in whose oversight the new Ministry plays a significant role.

The MoHLW then took over from the Ministry of Finance responsibility for the regulation of approximately 65,000 so-called tax-qualified plans (TQPS), re-establishing the 13,000+ of them which met its criteria into covenant (or “contract”) schemes and folding the rest into one of SERAMA’s many arms or dissolving them.

Next it assumed responsibility for the several giant civil service schemes as their benefits structure was reorganised and they agreed to follow the same asset allocation as the Government Pension Investment Fund — the world’s largest institutional investor — which is also under the MoHLW.

Small wonder that it is now said to be overburdened but the repeated scandals in which it has been involved since 2007 — when it could not match about 50 million pension records to their owners — mean that it attracts little pubic sympathy.

The future of the Pension Fund Association may also be up for review. Despite its name, the …continue reading


Abandoned hotel in Okinawa to finally be demolished

Demolition has started on an abandoned hotel and local eyesore adjacent to Okinawa’s Nakagusuku Castle that has been sitting idle for almost five decades. In a rare move for privately-owned property, the prefecture has taken charge of demolition due to the need for a careful investigation for any historic artifacts and to avoid harm to protected wildlife. Demolition is expected to be completed by March 2020, after which the land will be converted back to parkland.

The Nakagusuku Hotel was the brainchild of successful, local businessman and politician Hajime Takara (1907-1994). Takara had been entrusted to manage Nakagusuku Park while Okinawa was still under US control. A zoo with giraffes and elephants was built, along with a Coney Island-type amusement park. The park would return to the management of the prefecture upon Okinawa’s return to the Japanese government in the 1970s, with the condition that Takara would be allowed to develop a hotel within the park.

Construction began in the early 1970s, but stalled in 1975 due to the bankruptcy of the contractor. Issues were further compounded by road access with the only entrance road being designated as a cultural property protection district.

The incomplete hotel includes a 5-story reinforced concrete tower and 17 cottages, with a total building area of 11,000 sqm. Total demolition costs are expected to be around 205 million Yen (approx. 1.9 million USD).

The hotel adjoins the UNESCO-listed Nakagusuku Castle ruins. The castle dates back to the 1400s.


Nakagusuku, Okinawa

Source: The Okinawa Times, May 16, 2019.

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Take a look at just about any science fiction film. They don’t use dollars, they use some universal currency that can be transferred at the click of a button. Today we’re seeing the emergence of digital currency. What are Bitcoins and are they the future. That’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

What are Bitcoins and are they the future?

Take a look at just about any science fiction film. They don’t use dollars, they use some universal currency that can be transferred at the click of a button. Today we’re seeing the emergence of digital currency. What are Bitcoins and are they the future. That’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

Saturday | April 11, 2015

I love traveling. I’ve been all across Asia and it’s my mission during the winter to vacate the cold and take refuge in Southeast Asia. But the thing I hate most about traveling is dealing with money.

I’m not talking about the expense of traveling, I’m talking about having to deal with switching currencies when crossing borders. 

Dollars to won to yen to pesos to… you get the idea.

What I loved about science fiction was this notion of a universal currency embraced by the world community. We’re a long way off from that; however we are seeing the emergence of various digital currencies.

The most famous of which is the bitcoin.

Joining me via Skype on this week’s Asia Now podcast is Chris Williams, Meetup organizer for the Seoul Bitcoin Center. We discuss what bitcoins are, their history, the controversy behind them, and where things might lead in the future.

After the podcast, please let me know what you think about bitcoins. Are they the currency of the future or just a fad?

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