Posted by redracer on February 20, 2007
If you have never been to Japan, you would not believe the sight that is typical of most Japanese cities.
Four main factors govern this …
- The ‘Sunlight Law’, which was passed in the 1960’s in an effort to restric high buildings from creating too much shade on their neighbours. This gives rise to the distinctive sloped or stepped top sections of many taller buildings.
- Japanese building regulations have a much lower Floor-Area-Ratio (less than 2 to 1) than any other country. This means that Japanese houses are very small in most cases, and need at least 2 and often 3 floors to give enough usable living space.
- Japan is the only advanced country that does not try to put power and telephone cables underground. Therefore the streets are filled with wires on both sides going in all directions at varying heights.
- Japanese cities also do not have any sign control and any zoning laws to separate industrial, commercial, residential, and agricultural types of land. Walk for about 10 minutes in most neighbourhoods, and you will come across a mixture of residential houses, rice paddies, shops and offices, factories, golf driving ranges, pachinko parlours, and all of these covered with sign and billboards, and surrounded by vending machines. In one half hour walk in Yamagata (which is not a large city), I countered over 50 vending machines 🙄
So in summary, if you combine the Sunlight Law with regulations that encourage machinery boxes and billboards on rooftops, you get the chaotic look of the typical Japanese urban landscape. Add to this the absence of any zoning and sign control, the lack of trees, open land and parks, and factor in vending machines and overhead wires everywhere, you get the visual clutter that is not seen in any other countries cities.
This is the type of effect that I tried to simulate on my ‘Setagaya’ model railway. You can see what it looked like if you follow the previous post about the layout. I have now also documented all the buildings that I used on the layout, and this will give you an idea of what hopefully a ‘typical’ Japanese building will look like.