While Tokyo has what could be called affluent neighborhoods, it cannot really make the claim to have anything resembling Beverly Hills. This then raises the question, where do show business people live? Presumably there must be some factors incorporating prestige, comfort and exclusivity that would differentiate their residences from those of the hoi polloi.
That's what Shukan Gendai covers in its issue of Sept 2. The article begins with the displeased reaction by actor-comedian Hiroyuki Miyasako to find himself the target of paparazzi outside his condominium in Tokyo's Meguro Ward. When broadcast on TV, however, his building's features were obscured by mosaic blurs. Still, those in the know quickly recognized it as a place occupied by a number of famous individuals, including catcher Shinnosuke Abe of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team and actress Masami Nagasawa.
In past decades, major film stars preferred luxurious, stand-alone houses in two upscale Tokyo neighborhoods: Denen-Chofu and Seijo Gakuen. But over the past decade personalities have tended to shy away from easily recognizable buildings -- snapshots of which are often posted by groupies on the internet -- sometimes making them the subject of pranks, or worse.
By moving into a manshon, one also has the advantage of being able to move out quickly should problems occur. In some cases, however, they rent a second unit in the same building to use as an office.
"That way, they can register the address using the name of the corporation," explains an agent for one such person, "That makes their presence more difficult for outsiders to pin down, and they can also apply the rent they pay on the books as a business expense for tax purposes."
Shukan Gendai has identified a number of other common factors in homes of the rich and famous. First, they tend to be a long way from rail stations -- 10 minutes or more on foot. (More important than that, since most of them drive or are driven, is easy proximity to the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway.) For this reason among others, the most popular parts of the city are Meguro, Shibuya and Minato wards.
Nikkan Gendai also notes that fairly low buildings with comparably few units tend to be preferred, especially those designed to minimize spontaneous encounters with residents of the same building.
More recently, the residences of choice are part of a complex that includes offices and commercial shops, such as high-class supermarkets.
Other common factors are said to include:
The buildings' entrances tend to be on narrow side streets rather than large avenues.
Access to the units can be made from an underground parking area.
Parking on the street in front of the building is restricted.
A concierge is on duty round the clock.
Monthly rent tends to be over 1 million yen.
It's common for the buildings to be located close to foreign embassies.
Number of units per building is relatively few.
Many buildings feature a common-use sports area or training gym.
- Along with a security guard, the building is monitored by security cameras.
With regard to the final item, a certain Manshon A in Minato Ward, occupied by singers, top fashion models, entertainers and other personalities, is said to boast "five-level security," from a reinforced steel gate always manned by security staff, auto-lock doors, elevators requiring security cards that will only stop on one specific floor, and some 70 cameras at every point from the entrance to the door of each unit.
"As it charges a year's rent in advance, this keeps out anyone who's not prepared to put down 20 million yen on the spot," says a former resident of the building. "Some units have access to their own private garages, complete with shutters. All mail and deliveries are accepted by the concierge, which is pretty convenient, and also means that there's no need to inform outsiders of the unit number that a particular person lives in."© Japan Today