The rise and fall and rise of Japanese real estate is covered in Floyd Norris’ colum this week: Remorseful or Not, Buyers Start to Return to Japanese Real Estate [NYT] 
The market bottomed out there after 15 years of decline. The increase had been so pronounced in the 1980’s that the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was said to be worth more than the entire state of California.
A typical apartment in Tokyo of 750 square feet is worth about $330,000 (40M Yen) but a few years ago you could have paid $1.5M. Prices are still below 1996 levels but the number of sales are now above 1996 levels. Of course fixed mortgages there are at 2%.
In New York during the last housing boom, Japanese investors single-handedly extended the boom, saving residential developer’s skins in the late 1980’s as domestic purchasers rapidly became scarce after the ’87 stock market crash. The cost of housing in New York was seen as a bargain against Japanese housing prices.