Tokyoites leaving bustle behind for space and nature as pandemic proves catalyst for change
Japan Times -- Jul 27
As companies close offices in central Tokyo or encourage employees to work from home to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic, young people are relocating to the suburbs where rents are cheaper, space less at a premium and nature nearer the doorstep.

With Japanese work practices changing, fewer young people are inclined to live in high-rent shoebox-sized apartments near central Tokyo's business districts and are now prioritizing lifestyle when choosing where to reside.

Yutaka Kanai, chief product officer of xenodata lab, a Tokyo startup specializing in AI-based data analysis, recently left central Tokyo to move just south to Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, a city with stunning coastlines in which he has longed to live.

"The biggest reason I moved away from Tokyo is that I didn't have to go to the office," said Kanai, who is a keen surfer. He now lives in a house right on the beach.

The IT worker is now pursuing a better work-life balance, saying he can go surfing every morning just as easily as going for a run.

Kanai's workspace has also expanded. As his company started encouraging telecommuting, he was spending his days in his Tokyo apartment, working on a laptop in his living room. But he can now use three monitors in his larger home office.

"I feel less stressed since my workspace is now larger," he said.

Kanai is one of many who have started re-evaluating what "home" means to them after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in late March called on residents to refrain from going outside for nonessential reasons due to the virus.

Since late March, the number of views on the real estate and housing information site Suumo has surged. Such an increase is unusual as traffic tends to decline after the January-March quarter, when new students and workers try to find apartments before the academic and fiscal years start in April.

News source: Japan Times
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