New building obstructs last view of Mount Fuji

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Efforts by Arakawa Ward residents to preserve Tokyo’s last remaining view of both sides of Mount Fuji were dealt a severe blow Sunday when the steel frame of an apartment block that threatens to obliterate the view was completed.

The 13-floor, 38-meter-high condominium, which is being erected by Nippon Kokan (NKK) Fudosan K.K. 1.5 km from Arakawa in neighboring Bunkyo Ward, would be in the direct line of sight from Nippori Fujimizaka (Fuji View Slope). Nippori Fujimizaka is the last of 16 similarly named slopes in Tokyo from where a view of Mount Fuji’s left and right ridge lines could be seen.

The Fujimizaka view preservation group, set up in January shortly after local residents learned of NKK Fudosan’s plan, has continually called on the company to reduce the height of the building to nine floors.

The four-floor reduction would be sufficient to preserve the view of both ridge lines, the group said.

However, NKK Fudosan turned down several requests from the group, saying that losses incurred — reportedly 450 million yen — would be too severe.

Preservation group Chairman Sachio Ogawa called the situation “regrettable,” but added that the group may have found a company prepared to buy up the apartment block, valued by NKK Fudosan at 1.2 billion yen.

“It’s still at the discussion stage, but it seems there is a (major) company that is prepared to put forward the money,” Ogawa said, requesting the name of the company be withheld.

“If this comes through it seems there is a way to change the current building plan,” he added.

A representative of NKK Fudosan’s general affairs division, however, said he had not heard of any offer being put forward for the building.

The group had expressed its desire to find a company to buy up the structure at a meeting held with the NKK Fudosan president late last month. The company, however, did not specify that it would sell even if an offer was made.

“We’ve heard nothing since (the meeting), so we’re proceeding with our construction as planned,” the official said. “We think it’s highly unlikely such a firm would even come forward.”

Residents around Fujimizaka are not building up their hopes. One elderly resident said she thought it “unlikely” that a sponsor would come through.

A teenager living in the area said: “It’s really too bad. This was my favorite place in Tokyo.”