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A danchi in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima built in the Shōwa period

Danchi (団地, literally "group land") is the Japanese word for a large cluster of apartment buildings of a particular style and design, typically built as public housing by government authorities.

The Japan Housing Corporation (JHC), now known as the Urban Renaissance Agency (UR), was founded in 1955. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the JHC built many danchi in suburban areas to offset the housing demand of the then-increasing Japanese population.[1] It introduced the Japanese salaryman to a life around the nuclear family in contrast with the multi-generation homes before the war.[2] The kitchen embodied the raised status of the Japanese housewive, as it was in the center of the apartment, not in a dark corner. The families equipped them with the "Three Sacred Treasures": a refrigerator, a washing machine and a black and white television set.

Today, fewer and fewer Japanese live in the gradually aging danchi, generally preferring individual housing or condominiums, known as mansion (マンション, manshon). Many danchi are owned by large corporations, who charge low or no rent to employees to encourage them to live alongside their colleagues to foster a corporate "family" atmosphere. Many of the residents after the 1990s are childless couples or elderly singles. Men living alone are especially vulnerable.[2]

The rent payment for a danchi is much cheaper than that of a mansion or a mortgage, but for public danchi the prospective tenant must usually participate in a lottery to be assigned an open apartment. Some danchi built in recent years are quite modern and spacious, but since there is a lottery for assignment the waiting list can often run years. On the other hand, there continue to be many open slots in older, distant danchi. Originally, the monthly wage of the renter had to be at least 5.5 times the rent.[2]

Residents in UR danchi do not have to pay key money or contract renewal fees, making the residences cheaper than comparable housing even if the monthly rents are equivalent.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yamashita, Tsutomu (2007-12-09). "Showa 30s Movie Revives Interest in Danchi". column. Asahi Shimbun. p. 15.
  2. ^ a b c A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death, Norimitsu Onichi, November 30, 2017, New York Times.
  3. ^ Brasor, Phillip, and Masako Tsubuku, "There are advantages to choosing UR property", The Japan Times, 6 September 2011, p. 10.

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