Property in Japan: Where to Invest and Why Now is the Right Time to Buy
If watching the Tokyo Olympics has you fantasising about buying a home in Japan, you better act fast. According to Sotheby’s International Realty, enquiries on residential property in the country in March 2021 was “nearly five times greater than those received in March 2020.”
Considering how attractive Japan is as a travel destination—it hit a record 31.88 million tourists in 2019—it’s no surprise that there are people who want to splurge on something permanent in the Land of the Rising Sun. Here’s a primer on where to invest and how to find your dream home in Japan:
The capital of Japan, Tokyo is a sprawling city and a dynamic centre of fashion, design, and food (it holds the record of having the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world). Home to almost 14 million residents, the megacity melds past and present beautifully and has a unique tapestry of districts offering plenty of choice for the discerning investor. Last year, average property prices in Tokyo’s central wards surged by 20 per cent despite the pandemic, with many buyers looking for larger units—a trend also seen in London and New York.
Tokyo is not short of luxury condominiums and one highlight is The Kita, which was designed by Kengo Kuma, the iconic architect behind the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. Luxury hotel brand Aman also announced an Aman Residences in Tokyo opening in 2023. It will take up floors 54 to 64 of the new Toranomon-Azabudai towers, the same building that will house Janu, Aman’s new hotel brand focused on wellness.
A short train ride from Tokyo, Lake Kawaguchi is one of the picturesque lakes around Mount Fuji and has long been a popular day-trip destination for both local and foreign travellers. Today, the area also attracts international buyers looking for a long-term investment, and it's particularly sought-after by Chinese investors. According to Sotheby’s International Realty, high-net-worth individuals are searching for properties with views of Mount Fuji and of course the lake; some also look for homes equipped with swimming pools.
With its rugged coastline, long stretch of beaches, and beautiful onsens, the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture was one of the Bubble Era’s most lucrative destinations for second homes. While it retains its upmarket feel, the area also draws artistic and adventurous residents who enjoy surfing, sailing, and ceramic making. Most buyers look for properties in Ito, Atami, and Izu Kogen area, where homes with sea views are very much in demand.
Holiday homes abound in Karuizawa, a mountain resort destination in Nagano Prefecture, a comfortable two-hour drive from Tokyo. With the rise of remote working, there has been an increase in local buyers looking for spacious homes near Tokyo to make their primary residence. It also doesn’t hurt that Karuizawa has a buzzing food scene, plenty of design-led boutique hotels, and looks especially stunning in autumn.
Think of skiing in Japan and Niseko would immediately come to mind. Known for its powder snow and family-friendly slopes, the ski town has seen an influx of new developments over the years ranging from small-scale property developers to global hospitality chains. Ultra-luxury players like Aman have also entered the scene—they've announced a new resort and residences for sale near Mount Moiwa. Properties in Niseko are particularly popular with buyers from China, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian countries.
Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture, is also seeing an uptick in demand particularly as both local and international buyers look for smaller, less dense cities to move to. Located at the foot of a mountain near the ski jump stadium for the 1978 Sapporo Olympics, Prostyle Sapporo Miyanomori is one of the more special developments to peruse. Nestled in lush greenery, the luxury development is designed by Kengo Kuma and exemplifies the best of Japanese design.