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).
The place name is fairly literal: Denen 田園 means “garden” or “countryside” or “rural”; and Chofu is a local Tokyo place name (e.g. Chofu city 調布市 in southwest Tokyo.)
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:
“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!”
“The Tokyo earthquake accelerated the suburban exodus of the upper-middle class.”
[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
(3) Regional Planning in Great Britain – Focus on the Transfer and Transformation of the Garden City Concept イギリスの地域計画 : 田園都市理論の受容と変容を中心として, by Etsuo Yamamura 山村悦夫 (PDF)
“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 contained in the publication by the Local Bureau of the Home Ministry in the detailed description on “The Garden City” and the Garden City Company Ltd which constructed “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, living improvements and education.”
(4) Some personal thoughts
- First Impressions: Denenchofu is not as “obnoxious” to me as gated communities in the United States because Denenchofu is not gated and 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)
[…] Tokiwadai Residential Area 常盤台住宅地 (map) is a suburban development that was came about with the opening of 武蔵常磐駅 Musashi-Jobu Station in 1935 (now ときわ台駅 Tokiwadai Station) (source). The station, on the Tobu Tojo Line 東武東上線, is just an 11-minute train ride from the hustle and bustle of Ikebukuro Station; because of the neighborhood’s quiet character (and its history), Tokiwadai is referred to as the “Denenchofu of Itabashi” 『板橋の田園調布』 (See: Denenchofu: Japan’s first “garden city”). […]
[…] Development of ‘suburban residential areas’ 郊外住宅地 such as Denenchofu 田園調布 and Seijo 成城 , examples of garden cities […]
[…] Denenchofu: Japan’s first “garden city” 田園調布の歴史 […]
[…] 呑川 river near the impressive Ikegami Honmon-ji 池上本門寺 temple complex. For reference, Denenchofu is shown to the […]
[…] sub-streams further downstream. Today, the river appears to terminate near Tamagawa station and Denenchofu, where some/much/all of the water drains into the Tamagawa River. (Note: close to here is the […]
Reblogged this on the tokyo files 東京ファイル and commented:
Some notes about the history of Denenchofu, the first “garden city” in Japan, whose success was accelerated by the great earthquake of 1923. Denenchofu’s wide, leafy streets are a departure from much of central Tokyo.
[…] are 田園 Denen, which means garden / countryside / rural”; this is the same kanji used in 田園調布 Denenchofu, another garden city in Tokyo. (Note: the words in the poster are read from right to left, which is […]
[…] dense residential areas in the Tokyo area. Only two neighborhoods in the Tokyo are are comparable: Denenchofu 田園調布 (1918-1928) and Tokiwadai Housing Estates 常盤台住宅地 (~1935), both of which were built as […]
[…] Denenchofu: Japan’s first “garden city” 田園調布の歴史 […]