Dear friends,
    Our house hunting finished on Feb. 20 after an intensive three-month search. In this issue. I'll tell you why we've decided to sell our old house and buy a new 'mansion'. In Japan, 'mansion' means a condo. Since I saw a lot of mansions in the U. S. , I cannot use this English word coined in Japan without feeling the irony.

Our Old House
    Yoshi and I bought this old two-bedroom house in 1990 after we'd lived in a company-owned apartment for ten years. We were happy to live here. Yoshi was able to commute to his office in Marunouchi, the business center of Japan, within one hour. In the Tokyo Metropolitan area, the average commuting time is longer than one hour. I took a full-time position at Chiba University, a ten-minute bike ride. Takeshi started to take care of a Shiba dog. Chako the First. Now we have the same breed, Chako the Third, the cleverest.

The Reasons for Moving

1. Longer Commuting Time:
After the Bubble Economy burst around 1991, corporate performance deteriorated. Last year, the headquarters of Kobe Steel, where Yoshi has been working for twenty years, moved from Marunouchi to Osaki in order to pay less rent. As a result, Yoshi's commuting time became thirty minutes longer.

2. Lower Residential Land Price and Supply:
The price of residential land has been dropping sharply and is still going down. Banks and companies are selling their first-rate properties and supplying the land for building new 'mansions'.  Now we can afford to buy a newly built 'mansion' in Tokyo, which was impossible for us to even think about in the 80s and 90s.

3. Governmental Measures:
To boost the sluggish economy, the government took measures to encourage people to buy new houses. The interest rate of a housing loan is very low, 2.8%, and the tax
reduction for a home loan continues for 15 years. Yoshi and I are hoping to sell our house, which we bought for $440,000 ten years ago, for $150,000. That means we lose a lot by selling the house. The only consolation is that the tax reduction measure allows us not to pay income and resident tax for three years if we sell the house and buy a new one this year.

4. Relationship to Chiba No Longer Relevant:
Now I work for Chiba University just as a part-time instructor once a week, and my mentor will retire from Chiba University next year. I can't find any reasons to stick to Chiba.

5. Desire to Live in the Center of Culture:
We are tired of living in the suburbs of Tokyo. We'd like to enjoy the advantages of Tokyo life by living inside the Yama-no-te (Loop) Line, which circles central Tokyo. Art Creer Hongo (It's the Name of the 'Mansion ' a French word. )

    We found a small-scale nice condominium which is being built by one of the best developers in Japan, Mitsubishi Estate, near Tokyo University. We like the academic atmosphere of the area. There are museums, schools, temples, antique shops, restaurants, and Starbucks Coffee. A subway station is within a three-minute walk.
    Since four families wanted to buy it, there was a lottery and we won the right to buy the small 'penthouse, ' with no fireplace, no terrace. I'll just tell you that the price of this condo is $836 per square foot. The best part of this condo is that we can design the arrangement of the rooms as we wish with our architect. The condo will be completed by the following February and we will move in in March of 2001.