I will eventually write something more coherent on this topic, but for now, let me list some helpful resources concerning Denenchofu 田園調布, Japan’s first “garden city”, and currently one of the most desirable locations in Tokyo for upscale, suburban living (while still having access to good public transportation).
For reference, here’s a Google image search for “田園” – I suppose this is what the developers wanted to evoke in naming this suburb.
Here’s a map and aerial photo of Denenchofu today. (Google Maps)
(1) Notes from “Garden city Japanese style: the case of Den-en Toshi Company Ltd., 1918-28”, by Shun-Ichi J. Watanabe
This article was published in Shaping an Urban World, edited by Gordon E. Cherry 1977/1980 (pages 129-143). Notes from my reading:
- There was a land boom in Tokyo due to World War 1, which was initiated by land owning-speculators
- The land that would become Denenchofu was essentially all farmland or woodlands
- Shibusawa Eiichi helped organize the enterprise
- A prospectus was published in 1918
- A new train line would be built t serve the community (the Meguro-Kamata Electric Railway)
- The community would be in the middle of nowhere – new facilities would need to be built to support the community
- Denenchofu was not a “true” garden city in the mold of the British Ebeneezer Howard; Denenchofu was meant to be part of Tokyo, not completely separate
- Denenchofu was built almost entirely as a private enterprise; there was no statutory/government planning
- 1923’s devastating earthquake helped spur sales, as 20% of region’s housing was lost, and also as people were now more fearful of living in crowded areas that were susceptible to fire; these factors spurred upper-middle class Tokyo-ites to move to suburbs
- By 1928 most of the land had been sold
The following photo includes interesting quotes about the impact of the 1923 earthquake on Denenchofu:
- Quote 1: “Shibusawa’s son, who walked through the destroyed capital [Tokyo] to Den-en Toshi, recalls: ‘In contrast to the hell-like tragedies and miseries in the City area, how beautiful Senzoku area was!…This is heaven and that, hell!”
- Quote 2: “The Tokyo earthquake accelerated the suburban exodus of the upper-middle class.”
- Quote 3: the company “bought such a newspaper advertisement as: ‘This formidable earthquake has proved Den-en Toshi a sfae place. From the central city to Den-en Toshi! It means to move from a cinema without an emergency exit to a huge park. It is now that we should secure the land for peaceful life which is the most important property.'”
(2) Photos from book review: Garden Suburb of Evil, by Murray Fraser, April 22, 2014
“The strongest influence of the English regional planning on the urban planning in Japan was from Howard’s Garden City concept. Through the construction of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities and the establishment of the International Garden City Association, this concept became known all over the world.
The concept is contalned in the publication by the Local Bureau of the Home Ministry in the detailed description on “The Garden Clty” and the Garden City
Company Ltd which constucted “Denenchofu” (the first Garden City in Japan). In this book, the first two chapters were devoted to Garden City and the rest describing Western social works, Iiving impyovements and education.”
(4) Some personal thoughts
- First Impressions: Denenchofu is not as “obnoxious” to me as gated communities in the United States because Denenchofu does not bar public access to its streets.
- Accessibility: it takes about 35 minutes to get from Denenchofu to Tokyo station; 17 minutes to get to Shibuya station.
- Things to do: I’ve walked through the town twice; not much to do as far as I recall, though it is quite pleasant.
- Similar places: A similarly upscale and pleasant community is Seijo 成城, the town surrounding Seijogakuen-Mae Station (map); this area has more shopping and a livelier feel than Denenchofu, but also has plenty of trees and a relaxing atmosphere. (map)
- This place is also written as Den-en-chofu in English
- Originally the place was called Tamagawadai Garden City (source).
Other ‘garden cities’ in the Tokyo area:
- Suburban Tokyo: Tokiwadai Housing Estates 常盤台住宅地
- Ofuna Garden City: “New Kamakura” and the “Hollywood of the East” 大船田園都市と「東洋のハリウッド」
- Seijo 成城 (Japanese Wikipedia)
- Japanese Wikipedia entry: 田園調布
- Denenchofu: Tokyo’s Prestigious Garden Suburb, by John Spacey
- Tokyo, a Spatial Anthropology, by Hidenobu Jinnai
- Background on suburban expansion: Expansion of Metropolis around 1930s 都市から郊外へ : 1930年代の東京
- ナショナル田園 National Azabu, Denenchofu branch – upscale supermarket
- 田園調布の歴史 History of Denenchofu (Tokyu Square Garden Site)
- An Osaka area garden city: Senriyama “Garden City” – Utopia in the Taisho Era
- Japanese Wikipedia entry on Garden Cities (with list of example in Tokyo and Japan)
- Denenchofu station in 1963: