Topography and History: Continuity and Change in Tokyo’s Urban Open Space

Tokyo's urban open space is based on a historic system following topography and natural systems of water and vegetation. Edo, roughly the centre of modern Tokyo, was established at the edge of the Musashino plain, a diluvial plateau; the coastal plain was occupied later. The plateau's water system was redone to provide citizens with household water. Temple grounds remained spacious with fields and woods. Estates for the wealthy, mostly on the plateau, were designed to buffer a range of inconveniences and disasters. After the end of feudalism in the 1860s, many private estates gained a new function as green, urban open space of new Tokyo. Public park policy was established in 1873: a major development was the Meiji Shrine. With rule-of-thumb ideas on plant sociology, a large urban forest was created, based on vernacular wisdom and modern science. At the Kanto earthquake in 1923, existing urban open space helped in absorbing refugees. Urban renewal for about 3100 hectares was activated - part of it was a modern park system plan. On the upland plateau it remained a diluted version of the earlier heavily landscaped city with its numerous estates. On the contrary, in the now urbanized coastal plain 52 new neighborhood parks were built, often close to schools, all meant to provide public facilities in case of disaster. Relating directly to earlier experience, as well as to the natural topography of the urban landscape, a resilient urban green infrastructure is now in place.

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Author Information
Wybe Kuitert, Seoul National University, South Korea

Paper Information Conference: IICJ2016
Stream: Japanese History

Added on Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
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