Luxury Strike-out


In looking for potential new abodes, I have considered buying an apartment in a yet-to-be constructed building. Places like this put out advance notification, set up model rooms to show off their plans and generally give prospects the idea that their new building is going to be a great place to live.

A few months ago, I saw the advance notice for a building in Rokubancho, near Yotsuya and Ichigaya stations. It fit the requirements I was looking for so I put my name on the mailing list and waited for the model room to open. Yesterday we paid a visit to the Marubeni Grand Suite Rokubancho showroom.

We sat down with an agent, Sakata-san, and told him our budget and wishes. He pulled out the building plans and showed us an apartment that was not quite 50% more than the price we're willing to pay. The apartment he wanted us to consider would cost 1.25 million dollars. Too expensive but we toured the model room anyway, getting a feel for what that level of luxury would include.

A new building on an old map

First of all, it pays for the address. This is a prestigious neighborhood a stone's throw from the Palace and within the outer moat. Next door to the new building is an elementary school the Imperial family has used. There is history all around. These are things, Sakata-san assured us, that Japanese people will pay more for. OK but what about the building itself?

Concept drawing of the exterior

It is nine stories with views towards the moat (all taken) roof balconies (all taken) and southern exposures (all taken). There is triple security into the building beginning with a key that recognises its lock and automatically parts the outer sliding doors. And of course, the building construction is earthquake resistant.


The public spaces are decorated in rich woods and marble. In addition to a lounge area, there is a concierge desk where you can arrange package deliveries, tickets and even have lightbulbs and batteries sent up to your apartment. I don't think I'd want to live in a place where people where too lazy to walk to the conbini for batteries.

Layout 100A. Click for larger view.

This is the room layout that was suggested to us. It's about 100 sq meters (1076 sq ft) with two bedrooms, a coat closet and a storage room/pantry. It's a fair size, but the layout is awkward. Look at the toilet in relation to the bedroom: you'd have to walk through your closet to the hall and nearly to the genkan before you could pee. Imagine doing that if you're not feeling well. This is a middle apartment, so the windows are only on one side - east. Morning light only.

Detailed legend, translated. Click for larger version.

Check out the detail on the legend. It lists every outlet, light fixture, remote control. I've relabelled it all in English so you can see what level of detail you buy in a luxury apartment.

Premium and Standard versions of the medium brown colors

The apartments have many options and at a minimum level, you must choose among three color schemes (Brilliant Natural, Elegant Medium and Vintage Brown) in Standard and Premium levels. Premium has more wood; Standard uses shiny white finishes. The Premium carpets and wallpapers are a lot nicer and door handles have face plates.

Included equipment and fixtures (Premium and Standard). Click for larger version.

The fixtures differ between the Premium and Standard apartments, too. Premium apartments have beautiful faucet handles, a larger dishwasher, separate washer/dryer, and more holes in the shower head. And note that in the photos, the Standard options have a single stem of greenery, where the Premium photos show big, bushy plants. Subtle but effective upselling.

The price list mapped onto the building. Click for larger view.

And in the end, applying for an apartment doesn't guarantee you'll get one. After the first sales period deadline next month, they will hold a lottery to see who will get to buy the units that were on offer. Then the slate is wiped clean and another sales period begins for the remaining units.

On the map above, the rooms marked with prices are available to the public now (the red one is what we were recommended). The ones without prices will be sold in the next round. The grey ones are reserved for "members" during the first and second sales periods.

This is definitely not where we will be living. But I'm glad we went and saw the model room. Now we have another data point to compare. I still think we need to buy land and build a house.


But the Architect (and his backers) know best what you want... not,
All the best in your hunt!

I watched Babel last night and the thing that stood out for me was the fabulous apartment in Tokyo. I kept thinking, who could afford an apartment like that? What a place! What a location! And that reminded me to come over here to check on your house-hunting progress.

Weirdly some developers are planning condos around the corner from my house near downtown Austin. Luxury condos are springing up all over in the $250,000-$1 million range. But these developers think they can command a price of $1 to $6 million dollars a unit. Are they kidding? In Austin? Gee. For that kind of money, one could live in Tokyo or London. If I had it, I know I would.

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