Ishikawa Hideaki and his vision of activity centers (Sakariba) and Designated Zone for Education (Bunkyo chiku)

This article focuses on the visions of development of Ueno and Hongo, depicted in the Land Readjustment for War-damage Reconstruction in Tokyo. A large part of the plan was not realized for lack of funding, unrealistic ambition to cut down the population of Tokyo, and the metropolitan government’s heavy reliance on the central government to implement the plan. However, the plan still sheds light on the possible directions for future work. One key figure that contributed to the city planning of Tokyo and the development of urban planning theories in Japan is Ishikawa Hideaki (1893-1955). Ishikawa worked as a technical official and planner in the government during wartime and was in charge of the Land Readjustment for War-damage Reconstruction in Tokyo right after the end of the war in 1945. Some thing new about the reconstruction project at the time was the planning of green areas and the culture and education area (Bunkyo chiku). The plan divided the city according to the usage, e.g. government buildings, education, consumption and leisure, harbor, and medical treatment. Ishikawa personally does not like cities of big scale. His word goes that “Tokyo is too big and in some sense lacks in spirituality”. The dissemination, or planning of the individual areas as seen in the reconstruction plan, seems to reflect his preference for small towns.

Regional Plan of Tokyo Regeneration. Source: 中島直人, 西成典久, 初田香成, 『都市計画家石川栄耀: 都市探究の軌跡』, 鹿島出版会, 2009, p. 192.

Regional Plan of Tokyo Regeneration. Source: 中島直人, 西成典久, 初田香成, 『都市計画家石川栄耀: 都市探究の軌跡』, 鹿島出版会, 2009, p. 192.

The planning of the areas of Ueno and Hongo also reveal Ishikawa’s two visions, one emphasizing leisure, and the other civil participation in the planning process. Ishikawa prioritized consumption over production and regarded daily life and entertainment during the night important. Bustling activity centers (sakariba), shopping streets (shotengai), and rich light at night were three design aspects that he pays particular attention to. Ueno was among the commercial districts he envisioned as a bustling place (sakariba). The specific measures included putting the telephone boxes and utility poles away from the pedestrian streets. Saigo Kaikan under the statue of Saigo Takamori (renewal opened as UENO3153 in 2012), a building for restaurants and where the earliest family restaurant, Jugaku Dai, started, was also given birth by Ishikawa’s idea.

Ishikawa also advocated civil participation and autonomy in the process of urban development. The Designated Zone for Education (Bunkyo chiku) was special in that rather than the government, the universities in the areas, for example, the University of Tokyo in Hongo area and the Tokyo University of the Arts in Ueno area played the leading role. The participatory process also aimed at nurturing future talents in urban planning.

Although the reconstruction project was not fully realized, Ishikawa’s criticisms of the urban planning industry towards, including its indifference towards culture and education, remain largely valid and inspiring today. For the future development of Tokyo as a host city of the 2020 Olympic Games, he leaves a few tasks for the current generation to reflect upon and address.

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矢部早知子, 『石川栄耀の“夜”の思想—照明活動を通して—』, 早稲田大学創造理工学部建築学科 建築史研究室, 修士論文, 2011.
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作成者  | 2015-08-11 (火)
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