Why is Japan so overcrowded

Is Tokyo crazy? Of course, even this question is a joke. And an impermissible humanization, as spoilers will immediately notice. After all, a city cannot be crazy, at most the people who inhabit it.

But what else should you call a city that is so overpopulated and narrow that learner drivers have to practice driving on the roofs of houses; that priests vibrate in bed at night because their Shinto shrine is on an express train tunnel? A city in which the dead have to rotate in their graves, in which new houses are built that are 60 centimeters wide, where the homeless queue in the evening to find a place to sleep, and in which is constantly being demolished at such an angry pace, new is built and demolished again that even locals regularly get lost.

What is certain is that free space is a rarity in Tokyo, even rarer and more valuable than poisonous fugu fish. It's tight in Tokyo. The land is expensive. This leads to daring constructions that would undoubtedly be described as crazy anywhere else in the world, but hardly raise an eyebrow here. A driving school on the roof of a supermarket, for example. "So what?" Asks Okinari Nagano, manager of the "Kanamachi Driving School" in northern Tokyo. He doesn't understand what's so exciting about it.

Driving lessons with a view

Rather, he proudly leads visitors to the tarred flat roof of the "Ito-Yokado" supermarket. The driving school has built its practice area here at a lofty height, eight or nine meters above ground. White lines on the tar imitate streets, crosswalks and parking lots. 35 blue Mazdas drive around in a circle on the roof, each driven by a learner driver and a driving instructor. There is a replica of an intersection, complete with traffic lights, a false level crossing, lots of curves and a ramp to practice starting up on the mountain.

"When I was driving straight ahead, I could see exactly into the window on the seventh floor of the apartment building opposite," says learner driver Yuki Hasegawa. "For a moment I thought I was going to drive people into the living room." Nevertheless, Ms. Hasegawa likes to practice here. The supermarket is close to the train station, so it's easy to get to for people like her who don't have a driver's license yet.

For this reason, the "Driving School on the Roof" model, which has been in operation here in Kanamachi since 1966, is still being diligently copied today. "They copied our model in Fukuoka in southern Japan and only last year again in Hokkaido in the north," says Nagano, the manager.