It's urbanesque, but frankly it's all the negatives from living in high density with little of the benefits (you're living in housing densities like you'd find in South Boston, but instead of being a 20 minute walk to the Financial District, you're still 40 km and an hour+ train ride out from the core). Or from the other side, it's all the negatives of the suburbs but without the positives (like more space and a yard). And people are, shall we say, less sophisticated in Japanese suburbs? Put it this way: I'm invisible in Bunkyo-ku to every Japanese person I come across. And that's how I like it, that's how Japanese people treat other Japanese people. In Saitama, I'm a spectacle. My wife and I don't need that shit, so we stay where non-Japanese don't draw stares.Spent the last few minutes poking around Saitama on Google Maps. I can see what you mean about the relative lack of vibrancy, but I have to say that I like the way that houses in Japanese suburbs don't have yards and are tightly packed. Makes them appear pretty urban by New England standards.
It is, but it's made for New England winters. It's on a quality level you won't find in Tokyo. The only place you'll get New England-level wood frame quality is in Hokkaido, where they actually insulate for winter. No joke, I had to go out of my way in explaining to my architect that in fact I did want "Hokkaido-level" insulation and that I was aware of the incremental cost.Most of New England's housing is wood, though..
There's no wood siding here, for example. It's all plastic and only two companies make it, so you see the same 10 Lixel or YKK-brand siding, front doors, fences, roof tiling etc. on every single family house built anywhere in Japan in the last twenty years. My wife and I will be walking down a street we've never been on and one of us will say, "Hey! I remember that door, it was one of our top 3 choices," or "Wow, glad we didn't pick that one."