The history of housing in Japan reflects two primary influences: the indigenous influence of climate, land formation, and natural events (typhoons and earthquakes) ; and the external influence of foreign architectural design. Traditional Japanese architecture is made of wood with deep projecting roofs as protection against the monsoon rains. By the sixteenth century the typical Japanese house with a joined-skeleton frame of post-and-beam construction and elaborate joinery was common. The floor is raised above the ground, its posts resting on foundation stone, which allows the entire structure to bounce during an earthquake. This type of house is still dominant in rural settings and remains also in urban areas, usually squeezed among concrete buildings today.
In cities, most people live in apartments or housing corporations; land prices and taxes are exorbitant, making the buying of homes nearly impossible in the city centers. The suburbs have encroached ever deeper into the countryside, where house prices are a little cheaper, and many people commute for as many as four hours to and from work each day. The required coordination between government and the private sector makes city planning extremely difficult in Japan. Nevertheless, recent years have seen the emergence of policies systematically designed to develop larger-scale housing and industrial projects in regional areas rather than a simple restructuring of the megalopolis.