Saturday, September 15, 2012

No. 30: Railway stations increase the presence greatly in life and business (September 16, 2012)

With the growing concern over climate change, the railway business seems to be attracting great attention worldwide. This trend is very notable in Japan. Traditionally, railway stations played a very important role for the development of the urban area in Japan. Unlike in western countries, people used to walk a lot instead of driving a car or riding a horse in Japan. That is, the terminal from which a railway departs and in which it arrive is closely related to people’s life. People shop around and enjoy life in and around a terminal. Motorization changed the life style of Japanese, but the situation is changing fast recently. 

Osaka Station, one of Japan’s big terminals, attracts 2.5 million people daily, and a total of 12 companies are involved in the redevelopment of its vicinity. The Grand Front Osaka project will be completed in the spring of 2013. Four high-rise buildings are being constructed in the 7-ha idled site that used to be a station of freight-train cars. In these high-rise buildings, a total of 522 condos are being constructed, about 90% of which are already sold at this moment. Besides, about 60 residences as expensive as higher than 100 million yen each are selling fast as a pancake. In Osaka, another big project is in progress under the initiative of Kintetsu, Japan’s leading private railway company. The 300 meter tall complex building called Abeno Harukas is being constructed with an investment of 130 billion yen in the southern part of Osaka. It will have museums and an observation deck besides department stores and hotels as tenants. The same trend can be observed in Tokyo, too. The large-scale complex facilities Shibuya Hikarie that features the nation’s largest musical theater, Tokyu Theater Orb, that has a seating capacity of 2,000 was opened July 18 this year. 

It has become clear that people are coming back from the outside the town to the inside the town. The great Ichizo Kobayashi defined the railway station as a place that gives people a communication tool instead of merely as a place where people get on and off the train. In the beginning of the 20th century, he was the only businessman that defined the railway station in that way. The recent trends we observe remind us of his greatness. His famous remark, “If you in need of a customer, why don’t you create a customer?” His remark has something in common with the famous remark of Dr. Peter Drucker. He said, “Business is to create and keep a customer.”  

Grand Front Osaka is being constructed toward 
the opening scheduled for the spring of 2013.

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