Tokyo has no shortage of custom homes that challenge convention, especially what a typical San Diegan would think of home. The architects in Japan are always limited by small lot sizes, this limitation pushes them to come up with creative use of space. One of my favorite architects is a couple, Tezuka Architects. Their houses are always built around a single theme such as the Roof House, where the family can climb on the roof to play, have a barbecue, and dine. The Engawa house is an engawa (veranda) with rooms. This Hiroshima architect also does interesting work.
Unfortunately the vast majority of new homes are cookie cutter homes. Unlike the US many of theses cookie cutter homes are so called “system” houses or manufactured homes by conglomerates such as Misawa, Panasonic, and even Toyota. You essentially configure a home from a catalog. Even Muji is selling its own line of manufactured homes. Lately these conglomerates are targeting empty nesters, such as these homes. These homes feature separate bedrooms for husband and wife. The empty nester market is huge market in Japan. Beginning this year thru 2010, Japan is facing a mass retirement phenomenon where 5% of the population will reach the mandatory retirement age of 60.