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Web Letter

Mr. Lam writes "I suspect that in another generation or two, middle-class homes in American cities will look like those of Tokyo today--which is to say, the size of a train compartment."

A train compartment? Get real. There are plenty of statistical sources available on the internet to show that Japanese homes are comparable to those in Europe.

Moreover, I live in Tokyo, in a modest (40 sq. metre), self-owned apartment that is ample for my needs (I'm single) and only ten minutes' walk from where I work. My place cost me only about 1.3 times my annual salary. Public services are good, I don't have to worry about crime, my neighbours are all quiet and friendly, and I can go anywhere in town via the world's largest and most reliable subway system. Tokyo hardly offers a model of urban amenities when it comes to design and green space, but improvements are being made on those fronts as well.

At the very least, next time Mr Lam pens a hortatory piece perhaps he ought to do a little more research on the horror stories he uses.

Andrew DeWit

Tokyo, Japan

Feb 14 2007 - 9:32pm

Web Letter

Regarding Andrew Lam's sadness at the loss of the American Dream ( a big house), I am an American living in Europe, and we are used to small spaces at high cost and living on top of each other. I feel sad for you, because you appear to only see the size of a residence as having an effect on your "lifestyle". I am happy with my small, expensive apartment for reasons you don't mention. My tax money pays for clean, well-lit streets around my building, complete with green spaces for dogs. I can walk to groceries, dentists, movies, organic stores, hardware stores, the hairdresser, library, concert hall. I can bus to doctor, train station, museums, restaurants, within fifteen minutes. What you are sad about it seems to me is what is not available to your neighbors (cost too much) and outside your door; not the size of your dwelling. When we live close together, we can get the benefits of high-density living if our governments are responsive to our city's needs. (If not, fire them and get a different government.) And forget the commute in order to afford a larger house--that road is a dead end with what we know about climate change. Cheer up: Small can be cozy!

Carrie Ballard

Utrecht, Netherlands

Feb 8 2007 - 8:00pm

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