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Affluent residents have flocked to the low-rise, single-family enclave of Tokyo Aoyama since the pandemic



Synonymous with luxury and style, Aoyama is one of the most exclusive, elegant and sought after areas of
Tokyo
Located in the Minato district of the Japanese capital, it is flanked by some of the city’s most famous neighborhoods: Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. However, Aoyama is cut from a more refined fabric than its more well-known neighbors.

Understated but upper-class, it is known for its high-fashion boutiques, hard-to-book restaurants, avant-garde art galleries and exquisite minimalist architecture, not to mention its tree-lined boulevards and generous green spaces, which make it a particularly sought-after address in the heart of the metropolis.

Limits

Aoyama is divided into two areas: Kita-Aoyama, or North Aoyama, on the north side of Aoyama-dori Street, and Minami-Aoyama, or South Aoyama, on the south side.


Gaien Higashi-dori Street traces the eastern boundary of Aoyama from the Gaien Campus of Kyoto University of Art and Design in Meiji Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park, which is at the northeast corner of the district, until it meets Metropolitan Road 413. The southern edge of Aoyama encompasses Aoyama Cemetery, the grounds of the Nezu Museum and crosses Roppongi-dori Avenue, bypassing south then west around 7- chome Minami-Aoyama.


The western boundary of Aoyama traces the edges of the Shibuya campus of Kokugakuin University and the Aoyama campus of Aoyama Gakuin University, before meeting the northwest boundary, which follows Lohas Street and continues along Lohas Street. trajectory, leaving Meiji Jingu Stadium in neighboring Shinjuku, until it finds the Gaien campus of Kyoto University of Art and Design.

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Price scale

Prices in Aoyama are high, even compared to Tokyo’s already high averages. According to the Japanese real estate platform Utinokati, the average cost per square meter of a used condominium in the capital is 916,000 (US $ 8,030). Brokerage Japan Property Central currently lists a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit on the 20th floor of a building in Aoyama that was completed in 2004 for 260 million yen or 2.65 million yen per square meter, or close to the triple the city average.

The same goes for second-hand homes in the area. Japan Property Central’s portfolio also includes a three-story, two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Minami-Aoyama, designed by renowned architecture firm Sakakura Associates in 2005. The asking price is 618 million yen, or 1.64 million yen per square. meter, significantly more than the city average for existing homes: 551,000 per square meter, according to Utinokati.

As for new construction, apartments at the Grand Hills Minamiaoyama development, which is slated for completion in February 2022, start from 165 million yen for a 70-square-meter two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit.

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Housing stock

Aoyama is known for its architecture, so it’s no surprise that the area is home to some notable residences, including those designed by Atelier Tekuto and Conran and Partners. Additionally, the area benefits from low density zoning and numerous low rise buildings, giving residents a rare sense of space.

The neighborhood is a mix of detached houses, many of which are minimalist and ultra-modern concrete constructions, evoking a unique Japanese brutalist aesthetic. On the other end of the spectrum, new luxury condominium developments tend to dominate older complexes, although the former remain a rarity in the area and are often found on the outskirts, such as the aforementioned Grand Hills Minamiaoyama, which , when completed, will be 18 floors. .

Parking spaces often accompany individual properties and are sometimes available in apartment buildings, many of which offer 24-hour security and common areas.

Looking towards the S-shaped street in the ichome Aoyama district in Tokyo.

vladimir zakharov / Getty Images

What makes it unique

About Aoyama, Zoe Ward, Director of Japan Property Central, said: “There is a great combination of low-income and wealthy residential areas with big houses, as well as high-reputable schools, like at Aoyama University. Gakuin. Like Ginza, this is also where the big fashion and luxury brands want to establish themselves. It is also a very central location, close to Shibuya, Roppongi, Akasaka and Azabu.

Due to the region’s reputation as a hub for art, architecture, fashion and design, all of which come together in the trendy Omotesando neighborhood, there is a certain cachet to be had. an address in Aoyama. This is where Japanese and international brands, including Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamato and Prada, whose boutique designed by Herzog et de Meuron is a destination in itself, have their flagships. It is also home to upscale independent stores selling vintage designer clothes, traditional crafts, and housewares.

Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan

maple / a.collectionRF / Getty Images

However, Aoyama isn’t just about spending money and looking stylish. Aoyama Cemetery offers a respite from the urban bustle and a glimpse into the history of the region. In spring, the cemetery’s cherry trees bloom powdery pink, while its elevated position gives it breathtaking views of the city all year round.

Equally relaxing, the Nezu Museum houses a collection of over 7,400 Japanese and East Asian works of art in a poetic structure designed by famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The land also includes a landscaped garden.

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A covered walkway at the Nezu Museum in Aoyama, Tokyo.

Romain Tordo / Unsplash

The neighborhood is also known for its jazz clubs, ranging from the US-based Blue Note, which regularly attracted international talent in the pre-pandemic era, to the intimate Body & Soul Club, which has been around for over 40 years. .

Luxury amenities

As Ms. Ward mentioned, Aoyama is known for its excellent educational facilities. For the younger ones, there is the Clarence International School, in Omotesando, a nursery school for those aged 18 months to six years. The British School at Tokyo’s Shibuya Campus, which is only a 15-minute drive from the center of Aoyama, caters for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students (ages 7 and 8).

There are also a number of continuing education options, such as the Gaien Campus of Kyoto University of Art and Design, which opened in 2010 to serve as Tokyo’s outpost of Kyoto-based institution and its sister university, Tohoku Art University. and Design. Aoyama Gakuin University in nearby Shibuya is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the country, offering undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as a research institute. It is also home to two heritage buildings: the Majima Memorial Hall and the Berry Hall.


Famous restaurants abound in Aoyama. Yoroniku serves seasonal yakiniku, or grilled meats, and its iconic crushed ice dessert in an elegant and contemporary setting; at Sushidokoro Minami, diners enjoy an omakase menu that changes with freshly available produce and a good selection of sakes and Burgundy wines; For French gastronomy, Florilège ranks seventh on the list of the 50 best restaurants in Asia and has two more Michelin stars.

Who lives here

Aoyama attracts “high income earners and their families,” Ms. Ward said. “There is also a slowly shrinking contingent of original landowners who have lived here for decades and decades. ”


Notable residents

Aligning with the Japanese provision for discretion, Ms Ward only said that “it is very likely that there will be a lot of high profile residents. [in Aoyama]. Indeed, the famous fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, lives in Aoyama, a few steps from the CDG boutique. The late Japanese author and kimono designer Chiyo Uno lived above her Aoyama kimono shop.

Outlook

According to Ms. Ward, “residential prices have generally increased since the start of the pandemic last year” and are generally “up 10% on average over the past 12 months.” Yukiko Takano, global real estate advisor at List Sotheby’s International Realty agreed, noting that Aoyama’s real estate market “has been very active”.

“Luxury transactions have been on the rise,” she said. Although homes have been selling at a strong pace, she added that “new supply and remaining inventory are down. It drove up the prices. ”

“Aoyama didn’t have a lot of units to play with, but now there are even fewer,” Ms. Takano said. “Buyers need to keep an eye on the market and jump in if a coupon becomes available.”

Ms Ward added: “Future supply appears to be somewhat limited around Aoyama due to a lot of low density zoning and very few sites for potential developments. Historically, Aoyama has been a highly desirable location and I cannot see that changing in the future.

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