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The rise and fall of the Roppongi Hills 'tribe'

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Some think that Roppongi Hills is cursed. A real estate agent owner jokingly comments, “Recently, people say that residents of Roppongi Hills are doomed. You know, it’s the number 666,” – referring to the three 6s in Roppongi 6-chome Roppongi Hills.

The curse has become something of an urban legend. Historically, the building stands on the very ground where some of the 47 ronin in the Ako Vendetta legend committed ritual suicide after avenging their master’s honor.

There is a long list of Roppongi Hills residents, known commonly as the "Hills-zoku" (Hills tribe), who rose to prominence, only to fall from grace in a relatively short space of time. The best known is Takafumi Horie, founder of Internet service provider Livedoor, who was prosecuted on allegations of securities and accounting fraud. The man continues to live in the Hills, having filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. On March 10, authorities turned up to confiscate his assets on behalf of Livedoor shareholders demanding payment of 7.2 billion yen in damages.

Another Hills resident, financier Yoshiaki Murakami of Murakami Fund, was indicted for insider trading charges and similarly has filed an appeal. Currently on probation, his office no longer exists in Roppongi Hills and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Masahiro Origuchi, former chairman of Goodwill, fell into trouble when the organization’s nursing care service subsidiary Comsn was penalized for illegally dispatching contracted workers and receiving nursing care fees through fraudulent applications. No one is sure where the man currently resides, but it is speculated that he lives in New York with a green card status obtained through Goodwill’s U.S. operations.

Most of the apartments in Roppongi Hills are for lease, and the current monthly rent ranges from 1 million to 4 million yen. As such, the turnover of residents is incredibly high. Many who lost their positions, wealth, ownership of companies, etc, have virtually skipped town – but one common factor among those who once reigned in the luxurious building is stock problems.

One exception is the case of actor Manabu Oshio, arrested for the illegal use of drugs and negligence related to the death of a club hostess, which happened in one of the Hills apartments rented by Mika Noguchi, a Japanese female entrepreneur.

All glories must fade, it seems, sooner or later.

Kiyoaki Isogai reminisces about his short-lived glory days in Roppongi Hills where he partied every night. He was later prosecuted for tax evasion and now works at a metal recycling factory in Saitama, which is also his residence. He had inherited the factory from his father but got involved in the foreign exchange business, becoming a billionaire overnight. He joined the Hills community but the life of wealth and extravagance did not even last a year.

He was left with assets of only 2 million yen and an order to pay back taxes amounting to 160 million yen. The man, in his ragged work wear, says that life at the Hills was fun, but he’s had enough and wouldn’t dream of returning there again.

A housewife who lives in Roppongi Hills as a landowner says she misses the easy-going, old-town environment that used to be Roppongi 6-chome. The property management company imposes various regulations on the owners of the residence, preventing them from engaging in harmless hobbies like gardening on the balcony. “I feel like I’m in a completely different world,” says the woman.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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I'm surprised the story doesn't mention the poor lad who was crushed to death in the revolving-door entranceway to the building.

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I'm not shedding a tear for these selfish & greedy people. To bad life's a gamble. Hahahaha !!!!

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I know of a lot of gaijin headed down the same road... only difference is they run hard.

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Roppongi Hills is not cursed. Just a few white collar criminals and idiots.

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Roppongi Hills is a boring overpriced labyrinth of architecturally inspiring yet inevitably tiresome urban landscape which was a huge waste of money and will never recoup its initial costs despite the hype to keep it afloat. "If you build it, they will come" doesn't cut it here. Cursed or not, it is the biggest white elephant in Tokyo (next to Tokyo MidTown).

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Roppongi in general is a modern-day portrayal of Dante's Inferno. I'm not sure which level the Hills is on, somewhere between the clinic that treats teenage girls with sexually transmitted diseases and the gauntlet one must run to escape persistent touting by denizens from the third world.

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When I do venture into downtown (rarely), I prefer the older areas (e.g., Ueno). Nothing beats Yokohama though.

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They should be called the Roppongi Hillbillies. "Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Horie . . ." I hate that place. It bores me to pieces.

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Hey, they left out Lehman Brothers Japan (40th something floor of RH) going bankrupt in September '08, and setting off a financial crisis, too!

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If only the ads for "The Hills Diets" food replacement jelly powder stuff would disappear. (Everything seemed to latch onto the "Hills" image for a while there.

I wonder how Omotesando Hills is doing. I've yet to set foot in it. (Still bitter about the loss of those lovely old ivy covered apartment buildings, with their interesting little shops, which it replaced)

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Hi Taj,

Yes, I was also distressed to return and find those lovely apt. buildings gone with something I cannot keep visually fixed in my mind. Progress sux sometimes, it is true.

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That place will certainly suck the cash right out of your bank account. But the life blood? Dunno. Maybe it has something to do with the type of people it attracts.

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(Still bitter about the loss of those lovely old ivy covered apartment buildings, with their interesting little shops, which it replaced)

Indeed. I wish I could have lived in one of those.

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which happened in one of the Hills apartments rented by Mika Noguchi, a Japanese female entrepreneur.

AKA the Peach John prez who didn't get charged for all the coke in her apartment. I wonder how many yaks live there...

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They seem to tend to show themselves more attractive than they are, which seems to be need to improve their firms and to get new customers. But they sometimes do something illegal, tell lies. Because they have to pay salaries for employees, high rents for their offices in Hills, have to continue to make sales up to avoid losing their credit from customers and banks, and of course (the following is most important) they wanna earn much money.

Japan is a capitalistic country though, Japan is also a country under the rules of law. They sometimes tend to forget rules.

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Well when the rents are that high you get the high flying risk takers which includes kiters and cheats. I say those who fell from grace should appreciate the fun they had while it lasted.

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I see that rental prices haven't changed much since a generation ago. I will say this, IBM's HQS move from HK to Tokyo in 1983 contributed to the real-estate boom. Rents increased exponentially, especially for foreign ex-pats. IBM later moved to Singapore. Roppongi overall has had a major facelift more ways than one from the days of yore. Impressive, but different. Those who sold their property to the project received in exchange a condo in the complex to my understanding. Pretty good deal.

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Hoofin at 04:15 PM JST - 17th March Hey, they left out Lehman Brothers Japan (40th something floor of RH) going bankrupt in September '08, and setting off a financial crisis, too!

I thought that as well. How could a reporter leave out that fact and forget that Lehman employed over 1000 people in that building??

Moderator: The story is about people who live in Roppongi Hills, not those who work there.

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A friend was living in one of the residential towers, sharing the floor with two other apartments where a yakuza and a Japanese businessman lived. But once, a rival gang shot some bullets into the door of the businessman, either by accident or to give a warning to the Yak. The businessman was scared to death and moved out quickly, the yakuza also followed and he had the floor for himself...

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Saw the former PM Mori at the gym there a few years back. He certainly seemed to be enjoying living there. The whole RHills complex is cursed. Don't forget that poor kid who died in the revolving door soon after the place opened.

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read where google is moving into roppongi hills, maybe new group of tech dorks will fill up the apartments now

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The rent levels noted in this article are exaggerated. 1 bdrms are currently renting for under JPY400,000/month in the main towers - not cheap, but nowhere near JPY1m/month. Also can't believe Lehmans not noted in this article - largest US bankruptcy in history and was the second largest tenant in RoppHills after GS.

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it's a zero sum game. For each one of these losers, there's many that gained, or at least managed to keep their fortunes.

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PepinGalarga: Yes, the kind of people who live there aren't salarymen, they are high profile, high flyer types whose fortunes come and go quickly. Roppongi Hills happens to have a concentration of them and that attracts attention.

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Mysterious curse? I think not. More like life in the fast lane.

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You know, Mr. Mori keeps spouting out this altruistic nonsense about wanting to "shorten commutes and provide families with a richer life" by building these tower communities, but none of them are in the least bit suited for the average salaryman family, price- or otherwise. I wish he'd just admit that he's after only the high-end market and isn't interested in making life easier for the hoi polloi 40 floors down and two hours away by train.

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The slappers in Tartland (Heartland) are the ones you need to worry about...

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Ah! Heartland. Love that bar. All you have to do is talk &%#t that you are a multi-bazillionaire and they are putty in your hands.

If they are shallow enough to only want a rich guy, I am shallow enough to pander to their fantasy.

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This is a great post. you got cheap shoes online .I like cheap designer shoes as well give you designer shoes outlet

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