PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 1

PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN:
A Catalog of Typologies and Brief Discussion of the Role of Public Space
| PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
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PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 1
Acknowledgements
This document has been produced in part to fufll the require-
ments of PLAN 782: Tokyo Planning and Urbanism, a gradu-
ate City and Regional Planning course of Pratt Instititue’s
Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment. Our trip
to Japan that enabled this research was made possible
though a generous grant from The Japan Foundation Cen-
ter for Global Partnership (CGP). We would like to graciously
thank our fearless leader and professor Jonathan Martin
Ph.D. for all of his comprehensive preparation, patients, and
insight. Also we would like to thank Namiko Martin for help-
ing organize the trip, Alexa Fábrega for being an amazing
language and culture translator, and all of the Japanese pro-
fessors and students for hosting our visit: Dr. Murao Osamu
from the University of Tsukuba, Dr. Sasaki Yoh from Waseda
Universtiy, Dr. Julian Worrall from Waseda Universtiy, Ms.
Morokuma Benika, and Dr. Nakai Norihiro from Tokyo Insti-
tute of Technology.
This document was produced by:
Isabel Aguirre
Iwona Alfred
Johane Clermont
Chris Hamby
Joseph Kyle Kozar
Jia Rong Zhu
2 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Table of Contents
Introduction 3
Methodology 5
Defning Elements of Public Space 7
Typologies of Public Space 14
Case Study Examples 21
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 3
Space in Japan, particularly public space, cannot be defned
in mere terms of physicality and form. The very notion of
space in Japan is as much defned by history, scale, cul-
ture, and evolution, as it is by any specifc physical entity or
combination of any specifc criteria. Even begging the ques-
tion, “What is public space in Japan?” seems convoluted and
misdirected because of the simple fact that public space in
Japan is all space that is not private. According to Donald
Richie, “private space [in Japan] is seen as so sacrosanct
that public space is regarded as profane. Something which
belongs to everyone belongs to no-one. As a consequence,
there are few effective zoning laws, small civic endeavors,
little city planning.”
1
Rather, what organically bubbles and
fows across the urban landscape in Tokyo is a complex evo-
lution of the urban form. And layered within such complexity
are the high commercial streets, tiny neighborhood parks
and alleyways, and mega shopping malls that give us insight
into the form and identity of public space in Japan.
Upon frst encounter one is struck by the dizzy-
ing diversity of scales in Tokyo, which stem from the colli-
sion of an essentially medieval city form with the eruption
of new construction fueled by modern markets. According
to Peter Popham “Modern architecture arrived in force only
after World War II… There was no way for it to ft in, to enter
into some kind of a relationship with the buildings that were
already there, no criteria by which it could be judged harmo-
nious or otherwise. As one of the badges of power in Japan’s
new postwar world, a large and fashy building was the thing
to have. When the money and the ambition were there, the
buildings got built.”
2
Consequently, layer upon layer of larger-
than-life architecture and infrastructure is masterfully engi-
neered into the existing networks of smaller-scale buildings
and traditional roji (alleyway) neighborhoods. In this sense,
Tokyo’s layered urban landscape can be likened to a rainfor-
est with multiple levels of ecosystems functioning on top of
one another; from the back alley food vendors of Shinjuku
on the forest foor, to the offces, hotels and restaurants
high in the canopy of Tokyo Midtown.
Looking down on the city from a high vantage point,
one quickly notices the complexity and layers of these eco-
systems. Buildings appear to be placed haphazardly within
property lots creating multitudes of non-uniform, diffcult-to-
use, negative spaces. This came about due to an easing of
1 Richie, Donald. 1999. Tokyo: A View of the City. Reakiton Books. p. 38
2 Popham, Peter. 1985. Tokyo: The City at the End of the World. Chapter 3: The
Righteous and the Damned. p. 72
Introduction
Shared street public plaza near Shinjuku Station
View from the 52th foor of Mori Tower facing northwest, Roppongi
4 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
the regulation of residential property markets in the 60’s
and 70’s, which included radically increasing height limits
and promoted division of property ownership. In order for
owners to avoid complex litigation and to take advantage of
the freshly cut property lines they “were compelled to design
irregular frameworks, following the equally irregular shape of
the lots.”
3
And as buildings in Tokyo are made-to-ft, so too
is infrastructure. Roads, bridges, and pedestrian walkways
are ambitiously stacked and woven to adapt to the rapidly
evolving urban form. Multiple levels of residents, commerce,
and mobility create an endless web of dichotomies: “human
scale and megastructural scale, stability and mobility, per-
manence and transience, identity and humanity.”
4
The uto-
pian architect and thinker Kenzo Tange
5
described the basic
theme of urban design as “the spatial organization as a net-
work of communication and as a lining body with growth and
change.”
6
The built landscape is comprised of various shells
that are rapidly created and traded to satisfy the various
needs of the human and social actions that occur within.
“Today in Tokyo buildings are constructed and demolished
at a bewildering speed… Urban spaces have been metamor-
phosed into symbols and have become superfcial.”
7
Accord-
ingly, Tokyo’s urban spaces are predicated on the social
constructs that inform their relative forms, scales and rela-
tionships.
Within Tokyo’s continually evolving urban landscape
are many varieties of public space. While the notion of pub-
lic space is rooted in cultural and historical contexts, it has
equally evolved to take on new forms consistent with a mod-
ern global metropolis. In order to frmly grasp how these
spaces function and how their various forms continue to
evolve to match the evolving needs of Tokyo’s citizenry, we
compiled a typology catalog of public spaces in Japan. This
catalog was based on an extensive 16-day survey of Japan’s
urban landscape and is informed by our extensive reading,
observations, and conversations with locals.
3 Sacchi, Livio. 2004. Tokyo: City and Architecture. Chapter 2: History. p. 60
4 Lin, Zhongjie. 2010. Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban
Utopias of Modern Japan. Chapter 4: Structure and Symbol. p. 174
5 Kenzo Tange the great Metabolist Architect created the Tokyo Bay Plan: Plan
of Tokyo for 15 million in habitants in 1961.
6 Tange, Kenzo. Quoted by: Zhongjie Lin. Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist
Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan. Chapter 4: Structure and Symbol. p. 175
7 Ito, Toyo. 1991. Quoted by: Livio Sacchi. 2004. Tokyo: City and Architecture.
Chapter 6: Contemporary Architecture. p. 141
View from the 52th foor of Mori Tower facing southwest, Roppongi
Shared commercial street in the Kagurazaka neighborhood
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 5
Purpose
This document serves to develop a sense of the role of pub-
lic space in the Japanese urban realm by: 1) defning sev-
eral typologies of public space in Japan, and 2) defning the
elements that inform the arrangement and design of these
spaces.
As part of a Prat Insttute Graduate Center for Planning
and the Environment study abroad course, our student group
spent 16 days touring Tokyo, Tokyo’s surrounding suburban
communities, and Kyoto. During this course we engaged
with professors and students, government offcials, land
developers, and community organizers to better understand
the Japanese urban landscape, particularly in the public
realm. Our visit was preceded by an extensive review of lit-
erature pertaining to Japanese history, culture, architecture,
and development. We visited roughly 50 sites that ranged
from historic roji communities to large-scale commercial
developments to suburban farmlands. The group worked to
collect data and information through observation, note tak-
ing, photography, and drawing at each site, which enabled a
comparative analysis of public spaces that helped to inform
the purpose of this document.
Observation Parameters
Due to the large and variant scope of content, the group
observed many factors that inform the design and function
of public space, which illuminated a broad sense of different
categorical patterns. However, the rapid pace of the tours
inhibited the group from collecting exact measurements of
every site, which was part of our proposed intent. Rather, we
adjusted our methodology to observe sites paying special
attention to the following parameters. Where necessary we
were able to recreate approximate measurements from pho-
tographs, Google Earth, and schematic materials collected
at each site.
• Function – The primary uses of the space, i.e. why do
individuals habitually congregate at this location?
• Scale – The size of the space, particularly in terms of
presence, height, area, and relation to its surroundings.
• Dimension – The size of the space, in terms of the pla-
nar form, i.e. Is the space long and narrow or wide and
vast? Is it circular, triangular, rectangular? etc.
• Orientation – The relationship of the space to the cardi-
nal directions: north, south, east, west.
Methodology
Pratt and Waseda University Students during a joint planning workshop
Tour guides: Machida City Planners and Alexa Fábrega in surrounding
Machida Farmland
6 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
• Sound – The noises that the observer encounters in the
space, i.e. children laughing, vehicular traffc, trains,
silence, etc.
• Access – The different ways the observer enters the
space, i.e. from a train station or the street, though a
grand gateway or small alleyway, etc.
• Paths – The route along which the observer customarily
moves throughout the space.
• Districts – The larger area of the city to which the space
belongs, namely, an area that has a common recogniz-
able character, i.e. a neighborhood, shopping district,
etc.
• Nodes – Points within the space that are foci of activity
or congregation, i.e. the convergence of two paths, par-
ticular vista, rest-area, etc.
• Landmarks – A point of reference that defnes the space
and orients the observer, i.e. a large building, statue,
tree, etc.
Organizing Information
Upon returning to New York we created a comprehensive ref-
erence map of every site and walking tour visited.
8
We pored
over hundreds of photographs and notes to create a matrix
of all the observed public spaces. Through many rounds of
circular discussion, we created a broad list of 11 physical
categories of public spaces based on the aforementioned
parameters. Then we further defned those 11 categories
down to seven and selected two case study sites to illus-
trate how each category of public space fts within Tokyo’s
urban landscape.
Additionally, we concluded that there are four soci-
etal and cultural elements that strongly infuence the physi-
cal form of public spaces in Japan. These elements in many
regards dictate how and why the space is created and used.
These elements have been derived from our observations,
research and discussion. However, we recognize that there
are a myriad of other factors that infuence and determine
public space in Japan that we either did not observe or did
not obtain enough information for a comprehensive report.
The following sections of this document include a discus-
sion of the defning elements of public space, broad defni-
tions of seven types of public space in Japan, and two Illus-
trative case study examples of each defned public space
typology.
8 The Google Earth kmz fle may be downloaded here: htps://www.dropbox.
com/s/o90ag53y0u4evwf/TokyoToursandSites_PSPD_Summer2012.kmz
Diagrammatic representation of Parameters: Tokyo Big Sight
Google Earth Map of Mukojima neighborhood walking tour
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 7
Sacred Places
Much of Japan’s urban landscape is built around the historic
city patterns of the Tokugawa Era. Tokyo developed around
the original plat of Edo Castle (completed in 1651), which
served as the home of the Tokugawa shogun for nearly two
and a half centuries until 1868 and Emperor Meiji until
1912. “The site is still the symbolic heart of Tokyo”
9
rep-
resenting a history of strength and authority of Japanese
people. However, this landmark site is off limits to visitors,
ostensibly creating a vast hole of inactivity at the center of
the city. Ronald Barthes said, “(Tokyo) does possess a cen-
ter, but the center is empty…this circle, whose low crest,
the visible from invisibility, hides the sacred “nothing.”
10

Sprinkled throughout the urban fabric, one will encounter
Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and relics of an imperial
past that produce an almost omnipresent sense of religion
and tradition. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of spiraling
highways, train stations, and skyscrapers these sites almost
appear out of place, as if the modern development and the
mentality of the modern city dweller would slowly phase
such spaces out altogether. But “the sacred spaces create
a qualitative impressiveness that refects the persistence
of religiosity in modern Tokyo, thereby showing that, while
society is fuid and ever changing, the Japanese still desire
to preserve traditional forms of worship.”
11
Thus, as one
passes through the streets of Japanese cities, the relation-
ship to traditional Japanese culture is evident. Small Shinto
shrines are around every corner, often sandwiched between
two modern buildings, like a chic boutique and a 10-story
manshon (apartment building). Many public spaces are built
around large temples, history museums, or memorials. For
example: built around the 1923 Kanto Earthquake memo-
rial temple, the Yokoami-cho Koen Park in the neighborhood
of Ryogoku contains, in addition to its concrete temple, a
museum, a traditional garden path, and many other ele-
ments that are designed for passive refection or medita-
tion. The design elements of such public spaces reveal the
relationship to cultural traditions and have religious under-
tones. In Ueno Park, for instance, the Shinobazu lilly pond,
which encompasses the Bento-do Shrine and is set against
the backdrop of 15 story apartment buildings, is surrounded
by isolated seating elements that face outward toward the
pond creating a space for individual meditation and escape
9 Cybriwsky, Roman. 1997. From Castle Town to Manhatan Town with Sub-
urbs: A Geographical Account of Tokyo’s Changing Landmarks and Symbolic Landscapes.
The Japanese City. Ed. P.P. Karan, Kristn Staplton. p. 59.
10 Barthes, Roland. 1982. Empire of Signs. Center City, Empty Center. p. 30
11 Hiene, Steve. 2012. Sacred High City, Sacred Low City: A Tale of Religious
Sites in Two Tokyo Neighborhoods. Introducton: Japanese Relgious Context in Traditonal
and Contemporary Perspectves. p. 15.
Defning Elements of Public Space
Shinto Shrine next to apartment building in Roppongi
Seating around the Shinobazu lilly pond, Ueno Park
8 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
from the surrounding city.
Sacred tourism is another important element of
the Japanese relationship with historical and religious
spaces. Thus many sacred places, like the Great Buddha
of Kotokuin in Kamakura, or the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto
have become a sort of sacred museum; not truly public
spaces as you must pay an entry fee to visit the monu-
ments. However, these spaces draw large numbers of visi-
tors everyday, including school feld trips, tourists from other
parts of Japan, and foreigners. As part of the sacred tour-
ism industry the surrounding streets of these areas have
become lined with gift shops, restaurants, and commercial
corridors. Some spaces like the Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo
or the Nishi-Honganji Temple in Kyoto are free to enter and
equally foster sacred tourism development. Today “the num-
ber of Japanese having religious feelings far exceeds the
number willing to call themselves believers.”
12
However, the
Japanese continue to be attached to traditional Japanese
culture through the many sacred and historic public spaces
that remain scattered through Japanese urban landscapes.
Disaster Planning and Large-scale Developments
On September 1, 1923 the Great Kanto Earthquake struck
Tokyo at lunchtime. As wooden buildings of tightly knit alley-
way neighborhoods collapsed around the cooking hiba-
chi coal stoves, fres began to burn all over the city. There
was an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 dead or missing
and “tremors or fre destroyed 570,000 dwellings, roughly
three-fourths of all those in the city.”
13
This event was one
of many natural or war time disasters that have routinely
devastated and defned Japan’s history and urban land-
scape. The image of Japanese cities’ complete devesation
has been engrained into the Japanese collective memory.
It has become almost subconsciously present in everything
from the widening of city streets to the arcade video games
in Akihabara. Disasters like the Kanto Earthquake and the
1945 U.S. incendiary bombing campaign on Tokyo during
World War II
14
have forced the virtual reconstruction of the
largest city in the world twice in the last 100 years. As a
12 Hiene, Steve. 2012. Sacred High City, Sacred Low City: A Tale of Religious Sites
in Two Tokyo Neighborhoods. Introducton: Japanese Relgious Context in Traditonal and
Contemporary Perspectves. p. 13.
13 Gordon, Andrew. 2009. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa to the
Present. Chapter 9: Economy and Society. p. 140.
14 For three years especially in 1944 thru the spring of 1945, U.S. B-29 Bombers
dropped thousands of tons of fragmentaton and incendiary bombs on Tokyo, roughly 70
air raids. Nearly the entre city was fatened. Source: Sacchi, Livio. 2004. Tokyo: City and
Architecture. Chapter 2: History. p. 56
Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa
Map of Great Kanto Fire
Source: Nakai, Norihiro. Lecture Notes : Brief history fo Urban Planning and Development of Tokyo
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 9
result two very important city development practices have
emerged that have largely shaped public spaces, namely,
disaster prevention planning and large-scale developments.
Disaster Planning
Because of its geographic location, Japan is prone to natu-
ral disasters like fre, earthquakes, and tsunami. Preventing
the devastation that ensues from such events has become
the dominant theme in Japanese city planning. For exam-
ple, after the 1964 Niigata Earthquake that killed more than
6,000 people, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG)
established the Koto Cross Disaster Prevention Belt Plan,
which sought to “build a disaster prevention base by sur-
rounding (parkland) with multipurpose buildings, to increase
safety of the entire region by placing these bases at stra-
tegic points in the entire Delta region, and linking them.”
15

The Shirahige-Higashi Disaster Prevention apartment block
complex, completed in 1982 in the neighborhood of Muko-
jima, was the frst capital project of this kind. The project is
an enormous frewall made of 18 freproof high-rise apart-
ment buildings that were intended to protect the parkland
and evacuation centers (schools) along the Sumida River,
ideally creating a safe zone for residents of the adjacent roji
neighborhoods. However, this project proved to be incred-
ibly costly and was too diffcult to translate to other urban
contexts, i.e. where no river or space for creating a large
park existed. The TMG then sought other more practical
initiatives in fre prevention, like acquiring property in roji
neighborhood to widen streets and create numerous fre-
break parks. These parks create space between buildings
to prevent fre from spreading and now serve as new public
spaces within densely populated alleyway neighborhoods.
Typically these spaces match the footprint of the removed
building, contain one or two public space amenities i.e. a
bench or tree, and are used as community gardens or sites
for rojison.
16
Firebreak parks are invaluable community
assets and local machizukuri (community organizations) like
the Mukojima Association support these initiatives by work-
ing to educate residents about fre prevention, preserving
15 Sato, Shigeru. Historical Development of Modern City Planning. Koto Disaster
Preventon Plan. A hand out received from the Associaton of Mukojima Studies on walk-
ing tour of Mukojima 05/28/12.
16 Rojison are public rainwater reuse pumps located throughout roji neighbor-
hoods. The pumps serve as local community gathering spaces where children play or
residents can get water for plants or to extnguish fre. Source: Associaton of Mukojima
Studies . Island of Ideas = Mukojima. Handout received from the on walking tour of
Mukojima 05/28/12.
Conceptual Diagram of the Shirahige-Higashi Desaster Prevention
Aptartment Complex
Source: Association of Mukojima Studies
Members of the Mukojima Association explain rojison
10 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
the charming scale and characteristics of their neighbor-
hood, and reporting and archiving progress.
Large-Scale Development
After the destruction of WWII, development exploded across
the urban landscape. Japan like other countries was greatly
impacted by returning soldiers and the baby boom gener-
ation. “Between 1945 and 1955 the population of Japan
increased by 18.6 million people.”
17
Tokyo was faced with
an acute housing crisis as millions of people began food-
ing into the city centers. The result was many public and
private redevelopment endeavors, and a booming economy
rooted in a strong work ethic, growing middle class, and
“quick and fearless”
18
entrepreneurship. As a result Japan’s
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a rate of more than
10 percent between 1950 and 1973. The trend of building
larger-than-life developments was well underway, which cre-
ated completely new dimensions in the public realm.
Between the 1950s and 1980s the Japan Hous-
ing Corporation (JHC) and various private developers built
vast housing block developments and single-family homes
throughout the rapidly expanding suburbs of Tokyo, and
in some cases within central Tokyo. Rice felds and farm-
lands were bulldozed to create new suburban utopias like
Machida City or Tama New Town, which contain gigantic
housing block developments. These developments were
largely built to offer housing options to the rapidly expanding
middle class. They are well served by train lines and high-
way systems, and provide lots of open public space, basic
service amenities i.e. grocery, laundry, childcare, etc., and a
sense of openness not felt in central Tokyo. However, many
of these developments have been suffering in recent years
as Japan’s population is declining and many residents are
moving back to central Tokyo. What remains is the sense
of abandonment, underutilized public spaces like parks and
plazas, closed commercial corridors and huge plats covered
in buildings reminiscent of the 1960s utopian metabolist
era. Regardless, the trend to develop enormous housing
17 Gordon, Andrew. 2009. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa to the
Present. Chapter 14: Economic and Social Transformatons. p. 248.
18 “Japanese private companies expanded quickly and fearlessly. They bor-
rowed massive amounts from banks and took on large debts. Private banks and public
insttutons [] drew on individual savings to invest in capital businesses…the typical rato
of debt to equity for a Japanese company in the high growth era stood at 75:25…but
output and revenues grew so quickly, corporatons where able to repay these loans.”
Source: Gordon, Andrew. 2009. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa to the Pres-
ent. Chapter 14: Economic and Social Transformatons. p. 246.
Urban Renaissance Agency representative explains the new
Tama New Town Development
Commercial corridor and attached public plaza in
Tama New Town housing complex
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 11
complexes continues. For example, the Urban Renaissance
Agency recently imploded 23 existing housing block build-
ings in Tama New Town to replace them with eight larger
housing blocks. While the New Tama New Town Project has
nearly sold all of the apartments, the question remains if
the economics exist to sustain such large developments,
which have transformed the landscapes surrounding major
Japanese cities.
Further, because of the declining population over the
last 20 years the Japanese government has been strongly
encouraging and incentivizing large-scale multi-use develop-
ments in the central urban cores. Tokyo is “a city of indi-
vidual landmarks and station hubs linked by a network of
subway and train lines…Planned street grids, park sys-
tems, waterfront promenades and other urban gestures…
are capriciously absent.”
19
The TMG has accommodated
huge projects like Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown to not
only bolster a sluggish economy, but also to create spaces
that will increase the livability of the dense urban centers in
hopes of drawing more residents back to the city core. Thus
such mega-developments include residential and offce tow-
ers, shopping malls, and large public spaces like parks and
plazas. These developments often transform the surround-
ing transportation hubs into nuclei of intense development;
consequently Tokyo is a completely polycentric city. The best
example of this sort of development effort is perhaps the
Shinjuku Station area. In the 1960s a conscious effort was
made to transform the area around Shinjuku station to be
“Tokyo’s answer to the Manhattan skyline.”
20
Later in 1991
Shinjuku became solidifed as the center of Tokyo when the
new Tokyo Metropolitan Government building (the new city
hall) opened. Now Shinjuku is a multi-layered district sur-
rounding the train station that provides opportunities for
mobility, commerce, residence, and various public spaces
in between. Large-scale multi-use developments like Tokyo
Midtown are, to a certain degree, changing the ways in which
Japanese have come to interact with public space by creat-
ing an all included leisure experience within the urban core.
These sites are designed to cater and encourage consumer-
ism while integrating open spaces, plazas, or museums.
19 Pollock, Naomi R. Tokyo Midtown. Architectural Record; Nov 2007, Vol. 195
Issue 11. p. 123 – 129.
20 Cybriwsky, Roman. 1997. From Castle Town to Manhatan Town with Sub-
urbs: A Geographical Account of Tokyo’s Changing Landmarks and Symbolic Landscapes.
The Japanese City. Ed. P.P. Karan, Kristn Staplton. p. 68.
A view from Tokyo Midtown overlooking the developments’ public park
Looking up at Tokyo Midtown Development
12 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Cultural Elements
In 1991 the architect Toyo Ito said, “The residents of Tokyo
can, I believe, be compared to nomads wandering in artifcial
forests. In housing complexes no one stays at home during
the day; even housewives go out. Most of the husbands only
come home to sleep.”
21
Both traditionally and contemporar-
ily the Japanese domicile (the private space) is very small.
“The components are always of the same nature, the same
size, module-like.”
22
The Japanese spend much of their time
outside of their small modular domiciles and in the public
realm. Several discussions with local community advocates,
defned the notion of public space in Japan as the differ-
ence between the small intimacy of the private home and all
the daily interactions that take place outside. Accordingly,
the Japanese are not generally concerned with articulating
what constitutes public space; culturally the distinction has
always been clear.
Sakiko Sugawa is one of the founding members
of the Hanare Design Group and a founder of the Social
Kitchen in Kyoto.
23
The Social Kitchen is a 3 story, multipur-
pose space that functions as a café, community space, and
offce for the Hanare Design Group. Sakiko lived for roughly
three years in New York City and clearly empathized with our
desire to understand the function and design of public space
in Japan. She explained that the notion of public space is
not acknowledged in the daily routine of Japanese people.
When one articulates the question, what is public space in
Japan?, the average Japanese would be reminded of the
playground parks created by the government in the 1960s
and 1970s. “There is always one tree in the center and the
kids playing there do not look happy.”
24
She explained that
the average Japanese spends so much time out in the pub-
lic realm that they do not need to emphasize certain spaces
as being “public.” “If you were to tell a Japanese ‘we need
to build a big park space for you, like Central Park,’ they
would ask “why?.” They would say, ‘I have lived my whole life
without it, why do I need it now?’”
25
For Sakiko, this attitude
refected a cultural issue of complacency, where Japanese
are comfortable in their daily routines and will rarely interject
into what others are doing. Even in the process of property
21 Ito, Toyo. 1991. Quoted by: Livio Sacchi. 2004. Tokyo: City and Architecture.
Chapter 6: Contemporary Architecture. p. 141
22 Richie, Donald. 1999. Tokyo: A View of the City. Reakiton Books. p. 44
23 For more informaton about Hanare or the Social Kitchen visit: htp://hanare-
project.net/eng/
24 Sugawa, Sakiko. June 2, 2012. Discussion at the Social Kitchen about public
space.
25 Sugawa, Sakiko. June 2, 2012. Discussion at the Social Kitchen about public
space.
Chefs of the Social Kitchen Cafe
Sakiko Sugawa and students in the Social Kitchen community space
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 13
acquisition for private development, Sakiko described the
attitude as surrendering. “They think, ‘What can we do, they
are big developers’.”
26
Centered on a physical space, the
Social Kitchen represents another trend of community advo-
cacy and an effort to engage Japanese around such issues.
“The Social Kitchen is a café and event space that works for
social change through open collaboration.”
27
Near Shibuya Station in Tokyo our group came
across another informal community space. Masaki Toraiwa
is an educator and musician who lived the better part of 30
years in London and Los Angeles. Similar to Sakiko, Masaki
returned to Japan to co-found the Zankyo Shop, a CD and
book store that doubles as a community space for classes,
lectures, or to engage with other likeminded people. Masaki
reinforced the notion that everything outside of the home
is a public space. He described his small-scale neighbor-
hood as being flled with tiny nodes of daily congregation
and activity; sometimes even just a street and corner bench
are points of routine public discourse. However, Masaki
voiced concern about the evolving urban landscape and how
it “is destroying opportunities for this social interaction.”
28

He sees gigantic commercial complexes as replacing the
familiarity of small mom-and-pop-shops with superfciality.
“You can’t go to a megamall and randomly have a real dis-
cussion about important books or the role of public space,
like we are now,” he said. Masaki sees large-scale develop-
ments as creating artifcial public spaces that do not serve
the same purpose as small nook spaces that facilitate dis-
course between people. Because both Masaki and Sakiko
spent considerable time in the United States, their views
have been biased by western traditions relating to public
space, and they may not represent the core cultural values
of Japan. However, both are concerned with preserving and
bolstering Japanese cultural identity. And both have chosen
to create small spaces for community engagement to do so.
26 “My good friend Sakiko Sugawa, the target of my return visit, is in the
process of being evicted. As a mater of fact, she and her two roommates consttute the
only household remaining of a small cluster of old homes in the Takano neighborhood
of northwest Kyoto. All the homes in front of hers have been torn down, actually up to
her exterior walls. The homes behind hers have all been abandoned and are in some
stage of gutng. With her house ‘in the way’ the large machinery necessary to demolish
them cannot get by. The cluster of a dozen, two and three story homes is being leveled
to make room for the constructon of a manshion, a new high-rise condo development.
As the only renter of the group, Sakko has been the last to be negotated with, the
others, all owners, were bought out of their propertes with the hope that Sakko would
just leave without resistance.” Source: Vichnevsky, Natalie. June 13, 2012. Blog post: The
Really Last Day: June 10th 2012. htp://prattokyosummer2012.weebly.com
27 Vichnevsky, Natalie. June 13, 2012. Blog post: The Really Last Day: June 10th
2012. htp://prattokyosummer2012.weebly.com
28 Toraiwa, Masaki. June 8
th
, 2012. Discussion at Zankyo Shop with Masaki
Toraiwa.
Masaki Toraiwa discusses public space in Zankyo
Photo: Natalie Vichnevski
Small neighborhood nook public space, Harajuku
14 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Typologies of Public Space
Parks
Parks are open, accessible and pro-
grammed areas designed to act as a
neighborhood destination and facili-
tate interaction between users, and
provide opportunities for physical
activity or contemplation. While gener-
ally arranged for recreational uses, parks are typically
multifunctional. Parks act as vehicles for human inter-
action, parks serve disaster management purposes
(frebreaks), parks are components of national urban
initiatives (playgrounds), and parks are creative use of
small underutilized space in urban areas (pocket parks).
Elements like greenery, lightning, shade, sun-
light, furniture and signage infuence the pos-
sible success or failure of parks as components
of public space. Their broader urban and social
contexts also act as factors that infuence the acces-
sibility, connectivity and active operation of the space.
The confguration and function of parks are intertwined
features linked to the history, evolution and design of each
specifc park. For instance, sets of fre parks in Muko-
jima protect narrow rojis (alleyways) from fre propagation
in dense urban residential areas. Paths and lots were
retraced to facilitate this purpose. Paved playgrounds with
slides and swings are typical models repeated throughout
the country as a planning policy agenda. They are regu-
larly located as centered islands or on three sided lots.
Pocket parks are found throughout the city in contained
pieces of vacant, underused lots. Though not as amena-
ble for physical activity they provide a shaded, green rest-
ing space for the walkers of Tokyo.
1
2
3
4
1. Small playground in the Okubo neighborhood, Tokyo
2. Playground park at Gion Kenninji Temple, Kyoto
3. Pocket plaza next to Kyoto Station
4. Pocket park near Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi apartment complex,
Tokyo
5. Pocket park near Shibuya Station, Tokyo
6. Mammoth Park playground in the Mukojima neighborhood, Tokyo
5 6
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 15
Landscapes
Landscapes refers to major regional
networks that utilize natural features
to promote sustainable urban devel-
opment based on the processes of
natural systems and their intersection
with more intensive human activities.
In Japan, the Satoyama Initiative is dedicated to this
purpose. As a joint effort between the Ministry of Envi-
ronment of Japan and the United Nations University
Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), the Satoyama
Initiative holds human interaction with the environment
at the core of its program. This is particularly relevant
in the context of Tokyo, a continually growing metro-
politan area that may threaten open natural areas.
We were able to witness the application of this ini-
tiative in the Onoji Area of Machida City, where agri-
cultural land coexists with residential areas and “a
functional resource-circulation is secured through the
introduction of compound multilayered land use.”[29
1
]
Similarly, the Kamo River in Kyoto is valued both
for its public use and sustainable landscapes, and
both are able to coexist. The Kamo River is consid-
ered the embodiment of the spirit of Kyoto. It hosts a
rich ecosystem that changes along its length and
supports a great variety of recreational activities
2
.
The design of public space around the river is linked
closely to its history. The course of the Kamo River was
altered when the Kyoto Palace was built by the end of
the 8th century. The north-south fow of the river was
moved to the east of the palace when foods became a
threat to the ancient capital. Riverbanks were designed
as protection and drainage system. Through pathways,
esplanades and stepping stones in its shallow stretches,
the river’s design facilitates public use and enjoyment.
The Kamo River is a meeting point for friends, lovers
and families in Kyoto. The changing seasons offer a
variety of landscapes, most famously the traditional
pink cherry blossoms that spring every year in Japan.
Through national initiatives and local efforts to reclaim
the connection of the environment and human use, Japa-
nese landscapes accommodate infrastructural, ecological
and social uses.
1 htp://satoyama-initatve.org/en/
2 Kyoto University, Beside the Kamo River: A Place to Rest Amid Abundant
Natural Beauty. htp://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp
1
2
3
4
1. Shonen Beach, Enoshima
2. Shinobazu Lilly Pond, Ueno Park, Tokyo
3. Sumida River Promenade, Tokyo
4. Machida City Farmland

16 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Large Scale Housing
Large scale housing (or danchi as they
were once called during the 1920’s)
were introduced as a strategy to attract
scattered Japanese citizens back to the
city.   Traditionally, Japanese dwellings
were based on the modular grid of the tatami and the
class system (nobility, military, the farmer and artisan
and the merchant). There were three types of structure
that dominated the housing stock:  machiya (townhouse),
nagaya (longhouse), and the yashiki (mansions). The
machiya and nagaya were arranged along the streets or in
the rear yard with commercial activity (typically a shop) in
front and the living area behind.  The Great Kanto Earth-
quake on September 1, 1923 and the following devasta-
tion from the Second World War eradicated most of this
traditional Edo-period housing stock. Shortly after the war,
a great demand for housing and the need for disaster (fre
and earthquake)-proof structures emerged and fueled
the introduction of modern apartment blocks. Although
different in scale and form from the patterns of earlier
housing, large scale housing still incorporates certain
elements/patterns vital to traditional dwellings. Such ele-
ments include mixed uses, open spaces and fuid/adjust-
able spatial confgurations. However, there is no longer
a gradient from public (alleyway serving as the path and
the open space in between) to semi –public (shop) and
lastly the home (private).  Instead there is now a vertical
and compartmentalized arrangement.   There is an open
space, usually a park, which acts as the central element
unifying the pieces of the development/housing complex;
a commercial component, usually in one story units at
the base or within the surrounding area of the residential
building/complex and the apartments, arranged vertically.

1
2
3
4
1. Danchi housing complex, Tsukuba City
2. Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi apartment complex, Tokyo
3. Large Plaza plaza, Machida City danchi apartment complex
4. Each rose represents a sold apartment for the New Tama Newtown
housing development that is under construction
5. Model of the New Tama Newtown housing development
6. Commercial plaza space of the original Tama Newtown housing
development
5 6
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 17
Transit Hubs
Transit hubs are nodes in mobility net-
works, which may refer to structures
like docks, airports, bus stations,
garages, or most commonly in Japan,
train stations. Mobility networks, espe-
cially rail lines are the most important components of
Tokyo’s infrastructure when referring to urban form.   As
Naomichi Kurata observes, “the history of urban devel-
opment in Japan cannot be described without referring
to the development of the railways system. Namely,
it is said that most of the urban centers are not prod-
uct of the planning effort of local or national govern-
ments, but rather the results of commercial activities
or business strategies of railway related companies.”
3

In addition to lines run by Japan Railways (JR), Japan’s
railways are compromised of several competing com-
panies that operate inter-city rail services, including
the Shinkansen.   On the local level, the Yamanote line
is a circular line that connects the center to the outer
region/districts, and delineates central Tokyo from
its outer wards.   Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Shinjuku are
some of the principal stops along the Yamanote line.
These essential nodal stations are composed of multiple
rail lines, but are also intensively developed by the rail
companies, who act as real estate companies seeking to
extract high rents. Station footprints are often extruded
to skyscraper heights. Commercial enterprises are typical
for transit hub sites (shopping, restaurants, hotels, or the-
atres), as well as open space elements, typically plazas
– though these spaces often discourage lingering.  They
are “animated underground labyrinths flled with goods”
on multiple levels.
4
3 Sacchi, Livio. 2004. Tokyo: City and Architecture. Chapter 3: The Urban
Structure. p. 85
4 Sacchi, Livio. 2004. Tokyo: City and Architecture. Chapter 3: The Urban
1
2
3
4
1. Shibuya Station, Tokyo
2. Hachiko Plaza, Shibuya Station, Tokyo
3. Train car visitor’s center, Shibuya Station, Tokyo
4. Yokohama Ferry Terminal, Yokohama
5. Train platform Machida City
6. Shimbashi Station, Tokyo
5 6
18 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Sacred Spaces
Sacred spaces are areas set aside for
religious or memorial purposes. Temples
and shrines extensively punctuated the
urban fabric of the traditional Japanese
city, and a large number remained to the
present era. Non-religious memorials are interspersed
throughout the city as well. They vary widely in size and
structure depending on their area, function, and history. In
Tokyo, large Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are typi-
cally found in traditional commercial neighborhoods and
smaller shrines are found more quiet residential areas.
Though they vary in size and capacity, these sites
owe their longevity to the special place they occupy in
Japanese cities. Larger sacred spaces often host large
pilgrimages of people both local and tourist, and while
they receive more attention they tend to be less peace-
ful. Typically one main, well-delineated entrance leads
into the temple space with secondary entrances around
if deemed necessary and typically one main building that
stands on top of hill where the main deity resides. Tradi-
tionally if a building is to be built behind the temple, the
new building cannot overshadow or become visible inside
the temple space, however this is not the case for smaller
sacred spaces as the denser parts of the city sometimes
envelop them. Entryways to these spaces are usually indi-
cated with a tall gate.

Structure. p. 90
1
2
3
4
1. Kyu-Yasuda Garden, Tokyo
2. Yokoami Park, Tokyo
3. Small Shinto shrine, Shibuya, Tokyo
4. Nishi-Honganji Temple, Kyoto
5. Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto
6. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, Kamakura
5 6
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 19
Monuments
Monuments are singular buildings and
structures, often very large in scale, that
serve as markers in the landscape. Mon-
uments are often built with the explicit
purpose of activating a site or area with
high visibility in mind. Newer developments like Tokyo Sky-
tree, developed by Tobu Railway, are intended to stimulate
new development (and higher property values) in formerly
sleepy or undervalued areas.
Due to their strong shifts in scale, monuments
may be used for orientation in wayfnding, as they are
often visible from a long distance and many vantage
points. Others, like Fuji TV Headquarters in the new sec-
tion of Odaiba, serve to defne and organize raw space.
The majority of these monuments majority are under thirty
years old, with Tokyo Tower a notable exception and pre-
decessor.
Due to their size, monuments are often of a differ-
ent scale than surrounding, often more traditional struc-
tures, and may be built on re-purposed land like defunct
government-owned sites, reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, and
other properties without a dense build-up of small lots.
Many monuments are government-sponsored, and others,
while privately developed, are constructed with govern-
ment endorsement.
1
2
3
4
1. Refection of Kyoto Tower on Kyoto Train Station
2. Tokyo Tower from 58th story of Mori Tower, Tokyo
3. Fuji TV building, Tokyo
4. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
5. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo
6. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo
5 6
20 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Commercial Corridors
Commercial corridors are unique sys-
tems of shopping-oriented public spaces
typically articulated as areas of lin-
ear pedestrian movement (streets and
alleys) that fall within a broader context
of commercial and residential hubs. Layouts are usually
elongated as they follow street lines, indoor arcades or
systems of shopping mall pathways, but they also include
nooks in the form of shopping squares and commercial
plazas. Establishment of commercial corridors is strongly
grounded in the history and tradition of trade and com-
merce of old Edo. Many commercial streets today resem-
ble the historic paths of trade, for example in Ginza, which
connect or used to connect major centers of commerce
and residence.
In the more recent era, large-scale transportation
hubs like Shinjuku station serve as amorphous, mega
structures with intertwined transportation lines and com-
mercial corridors. Moreover, religious places can also
include long extensions of shopping streets. Commer-
cial corridors may fan out and blur into neighboring com-
mercial districts; but overall, specifc examples are not
diffcult to identify due to their unique form as well as
special intensity of commercial and pedestrian activity.
Today, transportation hubs, public space and commercial
corridors are almost interchangeable in the Japan’s urban
realm and this is particularly true in Tokyo.
1
2
3
4
1. Shared commercial street, Shinjuku, Tokyo
2. Small commercial side street, Ginza, Tokyo
3. Takeshite Street, Harajuku, Tokyo
4. Cat Street, Jingumae, Tokyo
5. Commercial street near the Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo
6. Commercial corridor, Asakusa, Tokyo
5 6
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 21
New Development
New developments are singular areas
and sites composed of multiple build-
ings with different functions and activi-
ties. Constructed in the recent past with
revitalization and higher land values in
mind, new developments often seek to provide amenities
considered lacking in more tightly woven traditional neigh-
borhoods.
New developments typically host a wide variety of
functions such as commercial, business, and residential.
Scales may often be large, as commercial spaces become
large malls, or low-level commercial shops fll a large foot-
print. New developments often occupy a large area of land
with an outdoor public space along the ground and lower
levels, with the connecting car traffc usually isolated to
the perimeter of the complex.


1
2
3
4
1. Cafe plaza, Shinjuku, Tokyo
2. Plaza in front of Caretta Mall, Shimbashi, Tokyo
3. Dentsu Building, Shimbashi, Tokyo
4. Cafe Plaza, Tokyo Midtown Development, Tokyo
5. Hinokicho Park, Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo
6. Museum Cafe, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo
5 6
22 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
Tokyo Prefecture
Tokyo Bay
Shinonome
Ginza
Mukojima parks/
commercial corridors
Edo Museum
Tokyo Big Sight
Hillside Terrace
Roppongi Hills
Asakusa
Ryogoku
Machida farmland/
housing development
Cat Street Park
Shinjuku Station
0 5 10 km
Kama River
Kyoto Station
Kyoto Prefecture
5 0 10 km
Public Space Typologies Example Sites
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 23
Tokyo Prefecture
Tokyo Bay
Shinonome
Ginza
Mukojima parks/
commercial corridors
Edo Museum
Tokyo Big Sight
Hillside Terrace
Roppongi Hills
Asakusa
Ryogoku
Machida farmland/
housing development
Cat Street Park
Shinjuku Station
0 5 10 km
Public Space Typologies Example Sites
24 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
mukoj i ma f i r e
park
parks
Mukojima is situated in the fertile land developed
inside the natural levee on the east side of the Sumida
River. During the Edo Period (1750-1860) the fertile
land was quiet, with a rustic atmosphere, unlike the
populated residential area it is today. The urban con-
fguration in Mukojima follows a traditional roji (alley)
scheme and was mostly constructed after the great
Kanto Earthquake (1923). Refugees that lost their
homes in the disaster rushed to Mukojima district and
rojis formed one after another.
-Association of Mukojima Studies
Since the 1980’s, the government has promoted urban development with resident participation. Among their initiatives is the creation of pocket parks that pre-
vent fre propagation, roji gardening (planted pots on the alleys), rojison (rainwater reuse device) and transformation of vacant dwellings to centers of activity.
Mukojima, located East of the Sumida River and North of
the Tokyo Skytree, is defned by an organic confguration
of alleys.
The Skytree being the tallest structure in Japan is a clear landmark for
the Mukojima residents. This and other new development to the North
are read as barriers within the urban fabric.
As part of the initiatives of a proactive community is the design of pocket parks which
are inserted in the middle of the urban fabric following different confgurations and a
variety of sizes and functions for each of them.
Mukojima
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
Skytree
Skytree
Asakusa
50 ft
20 m
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 25
date:
2012_05_28
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
Sunny wi t h a st rong
shower and occasi on-
al l i ghter shower s
This pocket park developed in a corner of one of Mukojima’s rojis and is delineated by a series of small planted pots.. The color of the pavement contrasts with the gray pavement and the greenery around it. The foor treatment
changes around the one activity provided for children’s recreation. Similarly there is one sitting area with a water faucet. The scattered replication of this simple model of open space benefts the community in many ways.
Most of the pocket parks, playgrounds and fre parks provide
greenery, seating, and a central focal point.
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
In the center of the corner park in Mukojima there is only one
activity for kids to play with and one sitting area.
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
af ter 1980’ s
aut hor :
Machi zukur i
communi t y
or gani zat i on
l ocat i on:
Mukoj i ma,
Sumi da- ku, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
52- 180 sq. mt .
560- 1900 sq. f t .
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
30 - 80 peopl e
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
Playground observed in Kyoto and described by a local as a “uniform, decaying, replicable
model from the 1970s”. The design of this park was not as appealing as the one observed
in Mukojima.
26 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
omotesando
pl ayground
parks
Omotesando, like Ginza, is a high-end shopping and
fashion area. According to Julian Worral, Omotesando
has become Tokyo’s premier cat-walk for the fashion-
able and the sophisticated. In the midst of the glam-
our and buildings designed by Sanaa, MVRDV, Ando,
Herzog & de Meuron, among other star architects, and
perpendicular to “Tokyo’s most beautiful boulevard” is
Cat Street.
On Cat Street, this playground provides an inclusive
space as an island in the midst of vehicular traffc and
“jewelry architecture.”
A street that favors pedestrians by turning into a walkway and an island of recreation.
OBSERVATI ONS
The Dior building, among other structures, function as landmarks that direct the pedestrians away
from the exclusivity of Omotesando into narrow side streets.
Hand drawn bird view of the Cat Street island playground.
In between Dior by SANAA
and Gyre by MVRDV in
Omotesando, one discov-
ers access to narrow and
more pedestrian friendly
streets. To the right of
the MVRDV building is Cat
Street, where our case
study site is located.
60 ft
20 m
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 27
date:
2012_06_09
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
sunny, par t i cul ar l y hot
day
Cat Street, a pedestrian street activated by the implementation of an island playground. The users seek shade produced by the limited greenery at the center of the park. More seating elements or a softer pavement that would
make sitting on the ground more comfortable could improve this space.
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
School children playing games in the middle of the park. The pavement changes to protect children that might
fall down. The space also provides the possibility of improvised play.
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
-
devel oper :
TMG
l ocat i on:
Omotesando Dor i ,
Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
2800 m2 =
67888 sq. f t .
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
30 peopl e
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
The playground attracts users of all ages. Different infrastructure and protection items prioritize pedestrian use.
Small planters with greenery improve the quality of the public realm.
28 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
kamo r i ver, kyoto
The Kamo River is the embodiment of the spirit of
Kyoto. It runs through the city of Kyoto from North to
South, fowing into the Kyoto Basin, called Kamigamo
in the Northern ward of the city.
When the Kyoto palace was built at the end of the 8th
century, the river’s course was altered to fow east of
the palace.
It hosts a rich ecosystem that changes along with the
stations and holds a great variety of recreational activi-
ties. Riverbanks and pathways make it an attractive
public space. connected to nature.
Pathways, riverbanks and bridges activate the water feature that hosts several recreational activities. In response to food threats, riverbanks were designed and
reinforced the drainage systems. The landscape therefore accomplishes infrastructural and social uses.
The North-South fow of the river was moved to the East of the Imperial Palace. The Kamo river is a popular destination among Kyoto residents.
landscapes
200 ft
100 m
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 29
date:
2012_06_02
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
67F / 25C sunny.
Open, accessible and programmed open space that captivates the local residents as a natural landscape. It is a meeting destination that enhances social activity and contact with nature.
Surface facilitates access for bikes and strollers, promoting an inclu-
sive use of the space.
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Restaurants host open-air dining areas during warmer months. Stepping stones allow crossings from one side to the other
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
8t h Cent ur y AD
aut hor :
-
l ocat i on:
Kyoto
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
31 km
20 mi l es
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
sever al t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
30 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
machi da ci t y
f ar ml and
Machida City is located in the Tama Plateau, reaching
the base of Miura Peninsula, which forms a wide natu-
ral environment. The total are of Machida City is 7,162
ha. Mountains and forests cover 14.5% and agricul-
tural land covers 12% of the total area.
The Onoji Area of Machida City is a large agricultural
portion of land that coexists with Machida City residen-
tial area. The area is defned by a land use regulation
that draws a cut-off control zone for farmlands.
The Satoyama initiative promotes a functional
resource-circulation is secured through the introduc-
tion of compound multi-layered land use.
The Onoji Area covers two categories of the fve perspectives of the Satoyama Inititaitve: (1) Securing a functional resource-circulation system
through the introduction of compound, multi-layered land use and (2) Development of local industries and local revitalization using traditional
culture and technologies.
landscapes
町田市
300 ft
100 m
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 31
date:
2012_06_04
Monday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
around 25C/77F
The Satoyama Initiative aims to conserve sustainable human-infuenced natural environments (Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes; SEPL) through broader global recognition of their value. The Onoji area of Machida City is
subject to such regulation framework.
Bamboo is shaped to allow sunlight
through
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Sumi: charcoal bamboo structure
storage
Rice felds in the low and fat area of the
Machida farmland.
Previously, this region was abandoned agricultural land. The farm-
land was developed as a strategy to reestablish active land use.
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
NA
aut hor :
Tokyo Met ropol i t an
Gover nment
l ocat i on:
Onoj i , Machi da
Ci t y, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
2 hect ar es
5 acr es
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
sever al t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
32 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
shi nonome canal
cour t
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
Promotional diagram and an area map
Shinonome Canal Court is a multi-family housing com-
plex located on Tokyo Bay. It is part of a “local master
plan for the future” proposed by the Urban Develop-
ment Corporation CODAN. The site, a former Mitsubi-
shi steel factory is now comprised of six blocks around
a central space, arranged in a rectangular block of
16.4 hectares. Each block was assigned to a spe-
cifc architect/architectural team: Riken Yamamoto &
Field Shop (block 1), Toyo Ito & Associates (block 2),
Kengo Kuma & Associates (block 3), Yama Architects
and Partners (block 4), ADH Architects and Worksta-
tion (block 5) and team of Makoto Motokura, Keisuke,
Yamamoto and Keiji Hori ( block 6).
large scale housing
The overall concept is fexible
housing to accommodate and
adjust to current lifestyles. It’s
a deviation from the metabolist
Kisho Kurokawa’s capsule con-
cept - “housing for the Homo-
movens: people in motion.”
The S- shaped street is the
central urban design and struc-
tural element that unifes six
individual blocks.
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 33
date:
2012_05_29
Tuesday
t i me:
af ter noon - eveni ng
weat her :
overcast /r ai ny
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Combination of use: commercial, open space and residential (a, b, c)
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
2003 - 2005
devel opment :
Ur ban Devel opment
Corpor at i on
CODAN.
l ocat i on:
Tokyo Bay
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
16. 4 hect ar e
( 40. 5 acr es)
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
tens of t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
The S- shaped street is comprised of two levels and contains pocket spaces, upper and lower level terraces, playgrounds, a kindergarten, and shopping facilities. As an entity, it represents the new concept of using a
framed public space surrounded by a residential component, cultural, retail and other facilities to create a new district.
a b c
residential open space/recreational use commercial
34 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
machi da ci t y
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
Machida City was developed in the 1960’s as a bed-
room town for those working in Tokyo due to its trans-
portation network’s close connection to Tokyo’s center
loop. Currently, it has the largest residential compo-
nent, the third largest commercial center and the high-
est concentration in ages 30-34 and 60 years and
over. The area is mainly residential, with a secondary
environmental preservation function.
large scale housing
The two main developments in Machida are the Kiso-Yamazaki Hous-
ing Estate, developed according to the Master Plan and following the
National Plan of 1966, which has the largest residential component
and which due to its age is out of sync current trends and growth con-
trols, and, the Yakushidai Estate, which is an example of district plan-
ning developed by a public and private sector with roadways and parks.
The infrastructure was frst established in 1980 and the housing stock
was gradually built upon it.
200 ft
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
Kiso-Yamazaki Housing : Commercial spaces at the perimeter of the housing complex.
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 35
date:
2012_06_04
Monday
t i me:
mor ni ng - af ter noon
weat her :
sunny
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1960
Devel opment :
Based on Master
Pl an
l ocat i on:
Kanagawa
Pr efect ur e
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
71. 63 Km
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
tens of t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
residential commercial
Yakushidai Estate: The houses are 2-stories, setback on the south side to
allow for more sunlight, and no sidewalks are present.
Point Houses, centrally located in the development are 5 –storey buildings, 2 families per foor and opened in 3 areas.
Section of a Point House
36 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
kyoto st at i on
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
The former capital of Japan is now a gateway to the
past and future. The station was constructed to com-
memorate the 1,200th anniversary of the city’s found-
ing. It is an example of an overlay of futurism on tra-
ditional form. The frst station, a simpler building was
built by Emperor Meiji in 1877.
The concept is based on the grid pattern typical of Heiankyo,
incorporated in the designs of gates (a universal symbol for a
gateway). The matrix repeats the concept of the gateway and
the foating layers. According to Hara, a passenger within the
space meets the sky and becomes captivated, therefore not
fully aware of the size of the building or the scope of all the
other activities. Comprised of 17 foors, 171 steps, an amphi-
theater, a Skyway- Terrace, shopping, fve squares and a prom-
enade, Kyoto Station is the best example of an “animated
labyrinth (underground and vertically) flled with goods.” There
are two sides to Kyoto Station: Karasuma and Hachijo. The
busier Karasuma side (bus terminal, hotels, shops and Kyoto
Tower) to the north faces downtown and is named after the
main street leading downtown. The calmer Hachijo side to the
south provides access to a few more hotels, Toji Temple but
most importantly built to accommodate the Shinkansen. The
main hall (un- obstructed) is underneath the matrix (east to
west) and contains the pedestrian traffc horizontally and ver-
tically.
transit hub
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 37
date:
2012_06_03
Sunday
t i me:
mor ni ng - af ter noon
weat her :
sunny
Open space near the Theatre
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Happy terrace on the roof of Kyoto Station
Commercial and open space intertwining
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1997
Archi tect : Hi roshi
Har a
l ocat i on:
Shi mogyo Shi chi j o
Di st r i ct , Kyoto
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
3. 8 hect ar e ( 9. 4
acr es)
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
transportation open space/recreational use Mixed-use: commercial, spaces and other uses
Roof top plaza, Kyoto Station
38 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
shi nj uku st at i on
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
Shinjuku Station opened in 1885 as a stop on Japan
Railway’s Akabane-Shinagawa line (now part of the
Yamanote Line). The transformation from a stop to a
multifunctional labyrinth structure began by adding into
the station intercity-rail, commuter rail and metro lines
(Chūū Line (1889), Keiū Line (1915) and Odakyū Line
(1923) and the subway service (1959)) that gradu-
ally increased the connection between Tokyo and the
suburbs, the fow of traffc (and commuters) and the
structure (mass/physical environment). However, the
most signifcant addition is the Tokyo Metropolitan
Government (TMG) Offce Building completed in 1991.
It inaugurated Shinjuku station into one of the world’s
busiest stations.
transit hub
Shinjuku Station is an important piece of Tokyo’s massive
and imposing infrastructure. It is divided into three districts.
West of the station is the skyscraper district which includes
Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Offce Building or Tokyo
City Hall and prominent hotels such as the Keio Plaza, Hilton,
Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt (featured in Lost in Translation).
Kabukicho is an area flled with commercial activity located
on the northeast side of the station. At the southeast end of
the station is the Shinjuku Gyoen, Japan’s largest park and
other plazas. Shinjuku station is a multifunctional labyrinth
structure that has no one distinct path and occupies multiple
levels. The path one enters or follow is based on which rail
or metro line a person needs. For example, JR East lines
consist of seven (7) ground level island platforms (14 tracks)
on a north-south axis, connected by two overhead and two
underground concourses. On the other hand, the Odakyu line
is parallel to the JR platforms on the west side and has 10
platforms built on two levels beneath the Odakyu department
store; 3 express service tracks (6 platforms) on the ground
level and 2 tracks (4 platforms) on the level below. Once
inside the station, a person is constantly foating through the
space (s) with no notion or concept of levels in relationship to
the street level outside the station.
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 39
date:
2012_06_05
Tuesday
t i me:
mor ni ng - af ter noon
weat her :
sunny
Another underground tunnel leading to Shinjuku
Station
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
One of many underground tunnels leading to Shinjuku Station The interior of Shinjuku
Station’s metro lines
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1885
Devel opment :
Based on Master
Pl an
l ocat i on:
Shi nj uku- ku ward
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
t housands to
mi l l i ons
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
40 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
r yogoku cemeter y
Smaller sacred places are some of the lesser known
preserved areas in Tokyo, and are often marked by a
disparity in scale between the traditional construction
and new, dense buildings. Entering from the north,
upon seeing a Chikara (Power of the Sumo) stone, to
the left resides Ryogoku cemetery, nearly hidden from
sight from the street. Besides fnal resting places, this
area is also the resting place of many past pets and
animals and sadly also are tiny statues which repre-
sent children who left this world too soon.
Ryogoku cemetery is located in the middle of Ryogoku Chrome 2, with residential residing along the edges
1 50
Chikara Stone Tall Residential Homes next to Cemetery Tomb/Statue resembling an animal
sacred places


Chikara
Stone
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 41
date:
2012_05_26
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
sunny
The surrounding residential towers overshadows and hides the peaceful and preserved cemetery
Children’s Grave Offering Array of Gravestones Pet Tombs
year bui l t :
archi tect :
l ocat i on:
Ryogoku, Sumi da,
Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
2800 m2 =
67888 sq. f t .
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
30 peopl e
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON SI TE I NFORMATI ON
42 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
senso- j i templ e
Senso-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo. The juxtaposi-
tion of the organic lots of the temple with the modern
grid of the surrounding neighborhood speaks to the
site’s age. And unlike the streets outside of the tem-
ple, which are highly dense and support tall buildings
squeezed against each other, the temple square and
the street leading to it is made of low traditional shop-
ping markets with enough space spread out that the
constant crowds of visitors, not the built environment,
created a dense space.
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
Gat leading to Senso-ji
One of taller structures in the space
is the pagoda tower toward the left
as one enters the main courtyard.
Although over time it was outdone by
a view of Tokyo Sky Tree further off to
the East.
Senso-ji Temple
Road leading to commercial corridor
sacred places


Senso-ji
Temple
A
s
a
k
u
s
a

S
t
a
t
i
o
n
Tobu-Asakusa
Station

PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 43
date:
2012_06_1
Fr i day
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
l i ght r ai n
View of Sky Tree
Although our visit there was not during the busiest time of the year, nor was there good weather to see the space at its fullest, we still saw the little things that show how people use the space. For example, people taking shelter
under the temple during the rain. There are people that visit this area simply as pilgrimage or tourist visit, and then sometimes there are couples that come here for their dates.
Protection from rain
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Senso-ji’s pagoda Shopping street just outside Senso-ji
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
628, r ebui l t post -
war
archi tect :
l ocat i on:
Asakusa, Tai to,
Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
2800 m2 =
67888 sq. f t .
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
Thousands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousand
open closed combined
44 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
edo- tokyo museum
Built with public funds in 1993, the Edo-Tokyo Museum
is a large scale construction near the Sumida River
in Ryoguku, Sumida Ward. The building is intended
to resemble a traditional raised warehouse, and the
museum hosts artifacts and reconstructions of Tokyo’s
history. The museum sits atop a multistory platform
that supports administrative functions, the gift shops,
and several other programmatic elements. This
presents a multilevel facade to the street, with the
museum proper perched several stories above street
level. The platform is punctured in several directions
to give street level access as well. One assumes that
the government chose the site partly to tap into and
strengthen the substantial tourist activity in the area
due to its Sumo traditions.
Edo-Tokyo Museum sits near several other recognizable landmarks, including the Kokugikan (National Sumo Stadium), the Sumida River, and several former daimyo
estate gardens. It is located close to several train stations.
1
OBSERVATI ONS
50
Sketch of Edo-Tokyo Museum showing relative scales of the surrounding built environment. Newer developments tend to be of a larger scale
The museum is a popular des-
tination for locals and tourists,
and there were a healthy number
of patrons during our visit. From
the outside, however, the site
had little activity. While the site is
well connected and highly visible
from afar, it has little connection
to the surrounding neighborhood,
sitting instead on a separated
site bounded by rail and water.
This may be why the plaza does
not appear to be used as a com-
munity amenity.
monuments
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 45
date:
2012_05_26
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
overcast
The museum is most recognizable for its distinctive form, reportedly inspired by traditional warehouse construction. The building is visible from many vantage points, and overshadows the Sumo Stadium for recognizability from
a distance.
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
The museum’s plaza sits several stories above street level, and offers views of Ryogoku and the sumo stadium while sheltered by the raised building’s mass. While the
plaza is accessible from several directions, there is little in the way of public amenities to draw visitors to the plaza alone.
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1993
aut hor :
Ki yonor i Ki kut ake
l ocat i on:
Ryogoku, Sumi da
Ward, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
30, 000 m² = 7. 5
acr es
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
hundr eds
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
The site is dramatic in scale
46 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
tokyo bi g si ght
Offcially named the Tokyo International Exhibition Cen-
ter, Tokyo Big Sight was constructed by the Tokyo Met-
ropolitan Government in 1994 in Odaiba, on Tokyo Bay.
The convention center consists of a complex of build-
ings capped off by the conference tower, a massive
building consisting of four inverted pyramids raised off
ground level. The tower itself sits on a raised platform,
stepping down to a western complex of buildings and
a “galleria” to the east. Big Sight is typical of Odaiba
in its scale and orientation. It sits with its back to the
bay, oriented along two main axes.
The conference center is accessible by a fantastic modal range, including several buses, automobile, multiple rail lines, and water taxi, with direct connections to
major airports. The site is connected by multilayer walkways and terminals. While highly connected via these bridges and paths, Tokyo Big Sight is separated by a
highway from the surrounding urban fabric
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100
Big Sight’s pedestrian plaza Sketch of the conference tower’s wide variety of connections.
Big Sight is laid out in a tradi-
tional grand modernist style, with
a grand boulevard that highlights
the monumental architecture of
the conference tower. While the
visit occurred on a rainy day, pre-
sumably with no major confer-
ences underway, the generous
plaza space and green space
appeared to be little used. This
may be due to the remoteness of
the site, out into Tokyo Bay.
monuments
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 47
date:
2012_05_29
Tuesday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
overcast /r ai ny
Tokyo Big Sight is most recognizable by its center tower, which rises as four inverted pyramids 58 meters tall and embraces modern design and materials. While the conference center is a larger complex of buildings, the tower
marks the center of a T-shaped axis, defning the space and acting as a hub for the web of walkways and transportation lines emanating out from its center.
Pedestrian scale interacts with a much larger infrastructural scale
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Surrounded by buildings of a similar scale, Big Sight’s plazas tend to offer little seating Pedestrian walkway from station
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1994
aut hor :
Tokyo Met ropol i t an
Gover nment
l ocat i on:
Odai ba, Mi nato
Ward, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
60, 735 m² = 15
acr es
condi t i on:
open and cl osed
capaci t y:
tens of t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
48 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
gi nza
commercial
corridors
Ginza is a commercial corridor comprised of gridded streets
and sidewalks that serve as public spaces. This area was
a model during the restoration movement in late Meiji era
(late 1800’s till early 1900’s); buildings were built with
brick and major roads were meant to connect with Shim-
bashi Station and other important districts. The traces of
old trade routes are still visible in the current street layout.
Rich in street commercial activity, Ginza is a popular desti-
nation. During the weekend, the streets are blocked off to
traffc and open to pedestrians. This district is character-
ized by multiple story commercial buildings, and a hierarchy
of streets. The proportion of streets and sidewalks to the
buildings is friendly to human scale.
Block fgureground showing street hierarchy of Ginza, major access points and pathways. Depicted landmarks are examples or renowned
stores like Dior which Ginza is famous for.
1
OBSERVATI ONS
100m
Intersection of Harumi Dori and Sotobo Dori as important access point on the west side of Ginza
Ginza’s grid street layout creates
an easy access for vehicle traffc
to the district. Additionally, pub-
lic transportation access include
Ginza metro line in the central
part of the district and JR train
lines from the west.
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 49
date:
2012_05_26
Sat urday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
67F / 25C cl oudy
The narrowest streets in Ginza are often thin pas-
sageways between the buildings and accessible only
to pedestrians.
Pedestrian activity in Ginza during the weekend when major streets are closed to traffc.
Pedestrian activity defning Ginza’s commercial corridorsin is enabled by the wide sidewalks, convenient access points and a volume of commercial businesses..
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Example of narrower and usually one-lane and
one-way streets of Ginza serving as access for
delivery trucks and walking corridors for pedestrians.
Sidewalks are often missing.
Chuo Dori, example of one of the main streets of
Ginza with double lanes and wide sidewalks.
Building fgure ground showing building density and
street hierarchy
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
Mei j i per i od t i l l
pr esent
aut hor :
Tokyo Met ropol i t an
Gover nment , var i -
ous archi tect s ( Tokyo
I nter nat i onal For um:
Raf ael Vi ñol y)
l ocat i on:
Onoj i , Machi da
Ci t y, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
320, 000m² = 79
acr es
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
A few t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
50 ft
20 m
50 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
mukoj i ma-
hatonomachi dor i
commercial
corridors
Mukojima is a large commercial district tucked into the
Sumida River delta. Due to its relatively easy access
from the city center, about 7 kilometers, historically
Mokojima became a residential-rural settlement with
highly developed commercial streets including a Geisha
district, fruit and vegetable shops and social venues.
Today, there are still remnants of old Mukojima like the
Hatonomachi Dori commercial strip or the composition
of the streetscape: two story wooden frame houses and
narrow streets. The dense clustering of older building
structures along the corridors dramatically contrasts
with the newer large-scale developments at the edges
of the district.
Dense composition, irregularity of lots and building footprints as well as narrow streets are characteristic of Mukojima commercial corridors..
1
OBSERVATI ONS
50 m
New large-scale housing contrasts with the low
elevated building structures along the corridors.
Many elements of Mukojima have
evolved to accommodate its changing
needs. The new redevelopment move-
ment for Mukojima in response to both
deterioration of structures as well as
encroachment of large scale develop-
ments (Tokyo Sky Tree, various large
housing projects) seeks to promote
existing housing, its renovation and
accommodation of various uses like
cultural venues, businesses and com-
munity centers.
A member of the Mukojima Association explaining the problem of new large-scale develop-
ments acting as edges and barriers of old Mukojima commercial district..
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 51
date:
2012_05_28
Monday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
61F / 22C cl oudy,
r ai ny
Hatonomachi Dori, one of the main commercial streets (corridors) in Mukojima rich in variety of shops and other small businesses.
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Small pocket parks like this one at the entrance to Hatonomachi Dori
contribute to public space typologies in Mukojima commercial district.
One of many small business owners in Machida.
Hatonomachi Dori street activity
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
Mei j i per i od t i l l
pr esent
aut hor :
Tokyo Met ropol i t an
Gover nment , var i ous
archi tect s
l ocat i on:
Sumi da Ward, To-
kyo
0-
1,000
sq. m
si ze:
180, 000m² =
44. 5 acr es
condi t i on:
open
capaci t y:
A few t housand
1,000-
15,000
sq. m
15,000-
30,000
sq. m
30,000-
60,000
sq. m
+60,000
sq. m
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
52 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
roppongi hi l l s
Roppongi Hills mixed complex consisting of a main
commercial tower, a theater, a school, clinics, art
space, a TV station and residential towers a short walk
away toward the south. The main commercial activ-
ity takes place at the foot of Mori Tower, with some
residences higher up. The open space at ground level
contains a pagoda garden with a rather round circular
stepped court which is sometimes used for events like
wine tasting.
Compared to its surroundings, Roppongi Hills consists of structures with the largest footprints, tallest buildings, biggest open space, and most dense construction in the
area
1 100
View of Tokyo from Mori Tower Roof top
new development


Mori Tower
Asashi TV
R
o
p
p
o
n
g
i

S
t
a
t
i
o
n
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 53
date:
2012_06_07
Thur sday
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
Sunny
Art display in Open Space
Mori Tower Pond at street level
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Open space near ground level
Dining area near roof of Mori Tower
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
2003
archi tect :
Kohn Perdensen
Fox
l ocat i on:
Roppongi , Mi nato,
Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
109, 000 m
2
l and,
724, 000 m
2
tot al
condi t i on:
Combi ned
capaci t y:
t housands
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined
Along the second and third
foors of the Mori tower,
there are large balcony
walkways, large enough
that they seem to form their
own open space thus was
diffcult to tell it was actu-
ally not ground level. This
in a way is an example of
how densely yet effciently
space is used.
54 | PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN
hi l l si de ter r ace
compl ex,
dai kanyama t - si te
Just a little walk away from the hustle and bustle of
Shibuya, within the more quiet residential area of
Sarugakucho sits the mixed used complex of Hill-
side Terrace. The Daikanyama T-Site faces out to the
street with its tessellated T-shaped façade. Within the
T-Site complex is a large welcoming space with green-
ery naturally spread out along the paths. Inside you
can fnd a book store, diner, camera store and much
more.
Contrasting with its surrounding areas, the openness of the space and its greenery lies an idea of creating a naturally peaceful environment just as buildings used to bend
to the conditions of their natural surroundings.
1 50
Peaceful garden patches Outdoor Cafe
new development


D
a
i
k
a
n
y
a
m
a
T
-
s
i
t
e
H
i
l
l
s
i
d
e

C
a
f
e
PUBLI C SPACE ANALYSI S
path access point node landmark barrier site
Updated aerial unavailable
PUBLIC SPACE IN JAPAN | 55
There is a lot of out-
door seating for people
to come and relax out-
side and just across
the street is Maki’s
Hillside Terrance Com-
plex, which, though
not as active, contains
buildings used as
offces, retail, commer-
cial and residential.
date:
2012_06_08
Fr i day
t i me:
af ter noon
weat her :
sunny
The buildings themselves, though flled with function and activity do not try to draw attention, as most of the buildings are only as tall as the surrounding residences. Around the block are multiple access points to this space,
there is almost no barrier.
T-site Module
VI SI T I NFORMATI ON
Outdoor Seating Sun about to set on T-site
SI TE I NFORMATI ON
year bui l t :
1992 ( Hi l l si de) ,
2011 ( T- si te)
archi tect :
Maki and Associ -
ates ( Hi l l si de) ,
Kl ei n Dyham ( T-
si te)
l ocat i on:
Sar ugakucho,
Shi buya, Tokyo
0-
1,000
sq. mt
si ze:
12, 000 m
2
( T- si te)
24, 000 m
2
( Hi l l si de)
condi t i on:
Open
capaci t y:
few t housand
1,000-
15,000
sq. mt.
15,000-
30,000
sq. mt
30,000-
60,000
sq. mt.
+60,000
sq. mt
tens hundreds millions thousands
open closed combined