Tokyo has 240 squaremiles and 9 million people. That make 37475 people/squaremile. Hamburg only has 6159. Or in other words: Tokyo is 6 times more packed than Hamburg. Therefore Tokyo is growing into the height and not into the surrounding area. If you ever were in Hamamatsucho, you wish for a 3D street map. This space problem also affects the parking space. The Japanese are really inventive in using space.
There is an urban legend that you are only allowed to buy a car, if you can prove a parking space for the car. I don’t know if this is true, but after watching Japan I believe it. Why else would they built parking spacing like this ?
A public parking space is hard to get and expensive. Free area is like gold. Additionally all the plots still have the old side. This results in 10 story office buildings with a ground plot of 5 by 7 meter for example. There are also car parks of this size. The stack cars like hardware store the carpet. The tiniest area is used.
There is something that complete falls into the category “typical japanese”: If there are billable parking lots for bicycles they also have them for motorbikes.
Tiny car are always from Japan. Big cars from America. Prejudgment? Maybe. But true. But in Japan the attribute “small” is applicable for trucks and even fire trucks. They all like washed at to high temperature (and shrinked).
But why are all these mini cars? The answer is: Because of Tokyo. Or Kyoto. Or all the other big cities in Japan. There are streets with 8 lanes and several levels stacked. But there are also these narrow streets; so small that not even two european compact cars would fit into it. Here a picture from Ueno.
The size of a garbage truck really rises the question about the size of the average japanese trash can. If you scale it linear by the size of th truck … hell no.
The best “compact” car I found in 2010. It was the day I returned from Hokkaido. I walked thru Nihonbashi and searched for the 8 lucky shrines. During lunch time I saw many food carts and business people looking for a meal. This is maybe the smallest mobile kitchen on this planet.