The Role of Local Government in the Planning and Preservation Process of Alleyways in Japan: The Case of Kyoto

By Yu Yoshii.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 29, 2016 $US5.00

Many historical East Asian cities including those in Japan have been traditionally structured without public squares. They have been built on a hierarchical street network. In Japan, wider streets have mainly been used by vehicles, while alleyways accommodated social activities and have been used by pedestrians. Following the diffusion of cars, the 1950 amendment of the Building Standards Act stated that all streets must be four metres or wider to be officially designated as a road. Due to this, narrower pedestrian streets eventually disappeared. For historical cities like Kyoto, this has caused a severe problem for townscape preservation because most of the old townhouses of historical importance were built along the alleyways. Based on the data obtained through ethnographic observations and interviews with city officials and members of the related planning association, this paper explores how the local government negotiates and finds balance between its laws, the existing conditions of urban space, and the expectations of the residents. The case of Gion South District in Kyoto illustrates the process of adjustments and negotiations in preserving the historic townscape and community, which have been built around the alleyways for centuries in Japan.

Keywords: Town Planning, Preservation Process, Streets and Alleyways, Participatory Design

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.31-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 29, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 863.620KB)).

Yu Yoshii

Ph.D Candidate, School of Environment, Education, and Development, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK