Danchi (団地)

Danchi is the name of an area in which institutions with similar objectives, purposes or industries are concentrated in order to optimize the urban infrastructure and distribution necessary for people, industry or other operations, or a generic term for an area in which buildings and structures stand. The word danchi derives from the phrases "ichidan no tochi" or "ichidan no chiiki."

According to the Japanese legal definition, the word refers to industrial and residential estates that are newly planned and constructed as an aspect of urban planning.
The term generally refers to a cluster of residential buildings but may also refer to a collection of facilities for manufacturing and related activities exemplified by "kogyo danchi・"
However, it is rare that sites containing multiple factory buildings are referred to as "kogyo danchi."


Broadly speaking, urban infrastructure improvement includes projects carried out by the state or local government based on long-term plans over tens of years, and those aiming to be completed and become profitable within a relatively short period of 5-10 years. Both types of projects require a considerable amount of time and money, and a large enough business and number of tenants are necessary in order for a danchi to be constructed; a comparison of the costs involved means that profitability must be investigated before a decision is taken as to whether to proceed.

Many plans for the construction of danchi are decided based on a balance sheet with a supply that corresponds to demand and profit.

The expenses necessary for construction of the infrastructure elements within a danchi such as roads, water and sewerage and electricity where previously none of these existed demands a certain level of prior investment regardless of the number of beneficiaries. Where there are few beneficiaries, the burden on each beneficiary will be greater, and it may become difficult to recover costs in the event that the burden is alleviated.

Danchi developments provide a solution to population increases caused by several reasons including urban sprawl and doughnut phenomena because, as opposed to sparsely spaced individual dwellings of low population density per unit area such as single houses, concentrated dwellings provide more efficient public transport system as buses and trains and more effective road maintenance and improvement service to these areas; thus danchi development leads to better consequences in terms of convenience. Efficiency can be further increased by the construction of multistorey residential buildings.

On the other hand, industrial danchi are often constructed distant from residential areas so that the noise and vibrations generated by factories do not disturb inhabitants or disrupt the environment. In addition, many industrial danchi are constructed near highways or major roads in order to make it possible to transport raw materials and products efficiently. Agricultural danchi may also require installations such as factories so that agricultural products can be collected, processed, or transported.

Residential danchi are very often constructed by the Japan Housing Corporation (now the Urban Renaissance Agency) or local governments. There are also danchi that are constructed by companies to serve as employee housing (particularly by the former Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation). Danchi generally consist of reinforced concrete apartment buildings but there are also areas consisting of separate dwellings but for which the name contains the word "danchi." Housing includes high rise dwellings, five-story cuboid staircase type of dwellings, two-story terraced houses, and star-shaped star houses.

Large danchi are generally located on the outskirts of major cities or near to highways and railways. Such developments are also used when converting large factories in city centers into residential areas. During construction, improvements are also made to the local infrastructure to ensure that it is compatible with the completed development.

Since urban redevelopment is conducted by exchange of rights in an existing urban area, it requires some time for consensus building with local residents; however, when a new towns is constructed in areas that has not been urbanized yet, it is possible to acquire large area of land, such as land used for agriculture, for a relatively low price and to carry out effectively necessary procedures including urban planning decisions.

Danchi Names


Council estate

Housing estate

Housing estate



Cohousing: A type of danchi comprised of a collection of individual houses. They are also referred to as Kyoju hoshiki (cooperative dwelling style). In this style, physical openness is increased by removing fences marking the boundary of each property or using low trees for fences, so that there are no distinct visible boundaries between neighboring properties. These are also referred to as "kakine kaiho danchi." Zushi Hiroyama Garden House (Hiroyama Park) built by Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. on high ground in Zushi City, Kanagawa Prefecture is a representative example of such a development in Japan. Although each house has average ground-floor area measuring 993 square meters, it appears to be many times larger than it really is because of the physical openness mentioned before.



Housing development

Park: Derived from the old French word "parc" meaning enclosure. It is used to indicate that an area is dedicated to a specific purpose, and appears in the following types of danchi.

Energy park

Science park

Sky park (housing complex with airdrome)

Technology park



Public housing that began to be built in the latter half of the 1950s incorporated features such as flushing toilets, bathrooms, eat-in kitchens and balconies, and were admired as modern housing.

Many of the danchi constructed from the 1960s to 1970s are lower than five-story buildings and few of them are installed with elevators. (It was not obligated to install elevators in residential buildings of up to five stories but was obligated to install one when it was a six-story building or taller.)
Even when elevators were installed, they were small and could not accommodate furniture, which was incredibly inconvenient when residents moved in or out.

Since both these buildings and their residents have become old, there are a lot of problems including barrier-free and heavy in moving.
There are many buildings constructed with surplus space, so if particularly large housing demand occurs in one area, it is possible to cover construction funds by building additional storys and selling them; however, for some danchi, rebuilding is problematic partly because housing demand is very limited with little prospect of profitability and partly because that danchi has used full floor-area ratio and there is no space remaining

Danchi are now being constructed in areas with good environments and a little distant from commercial centers due to the development of transportation facilities such as monorails. Danchi has become taller and parks, hostpials and large shopping centers have been built near danchi, so that danchi has become an attractive option for many people.

The Problem of Aging

Aging danchi are renovated by the following methods.


The previous cuboid buildings are reconstructed as new high-rise dwellings.

Major Repairs

In addition to the restoration of aging exteriors and interiors, elevators are installed and corridors added in order to provide better accessibility for the physically disadvantaged or disabled. Recently, some autonomous community have improved concrete covered with special paint.

Words Containing “Danchi”

The beginning of Danchi-zoku (danchi dwellers) / Manshon-zoku (apartment dwellers). The Japan Housing Corporation was established in 1955 and worked to provide reinforced concrete housing complexes. This word was coined and used as a term of envy as the desire for the shift to western style housing was catered for by these buildings with features such as eat-in kitchens with tables and chairs. The first media report to use the word "danchi-zoku" appeared in the July 20, 1958 edition of the "Shukan Asahi."

Danchi-zuma: A lady of leisure. This type is believed to have arisen since each house was separated by an iron door (front door) and interactions with neighbors decreased. Numerous film series and novels about Danchi lives were produced.

Danchi-moe (danchi love): Similar to "kojo-moe" (factory love), this word refers to people who have a deep fascination with danchi. There are now numerous photo books and websites containing various photos of danchi.

[Original Japanese]