Japanese neighborhoods are interesting. Mixed among the houses and apartments are Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Clusters of businesses line some streets.
Many streets are very narrow, with no sidewalks, but a white line on each side marks walking space. You an be in a squeeze because utilityy poles (metal, never wood) also occupy the street sides. I try to walk on the right side, so I can see the vehicle just before it hits me! (Remember, they drive on the left side).
The streets have white markings to show intersections, and large letters for Stop. Traffic lights are strictly obeyed, even by pedestrians. There are cars, trucks, motor bikes, and (silent) bicycles to watch out for.
After a while, you will notice that all the houses seem to be new. You might say to yourself that is because in 1945 they had all been destroyed by bombs. Not the reason. Actually, those houses built after the war are long gone. Few houses are more than 30 or 40 years old. They are built to last that long. While Westerners actually cherish old homes (the main part of my Marblehead house was built in or before 1873),
Japanese build a house to last about 30 years. One does not buy a previously owned house, except to tear it down and build a new one! And they do not put effort into major repairs or renovations. Home Depot would not have good sales here!
The best explanation I have heard is the frequent earthquakes loosen everything over time and is cheaper to rebuild than restore. It certainly does not produce capital gains – a house is not an investment here.
Since so many new houses are being built, there are more architects per capital than anywhere else. And they are in competition. So you see many interesting residences. Avant-garde. Each architect trying to outdo the others.
Many people live in apartments, as I am doing. Both houses and apartments are small – My three room apartment is larger than many at about 485 square feet. Apartments and homes are interspersed.
By the way, my apartment is the second floor of a two story building built of concrete on steel beams driven deep into the ground. It is about as earthquake proof as possible.