Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Niigata
I’ll start with Niigata, a former Edo port town on the cold and snowy northwest coast of Honshu facing North Korea and the Russian Far East. It’s a significant city, but local enough that it’s easy to describe. Also, a cousin of mine once lived there and requested it.
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
In 1960, urban Niigata was still limited to the old port island and harbor. Surrounding the city was a ring of independent local towns and cities.
Niigata Metro Area 254,998 13th
Shibata Micro Area 28,467
Gosen Micro Area 13,600
Niigata City 236,427 18th
92.7% of metro area
In the 1960s, Japanese cities and towns began to sprawl out, decreasing in density as they grew in population. Niigata was no exception. By 1970 an inner ring of suburbs and satellite towns had also developed around the city, in addition to its outward expansion.
Niigata Metro Area 330,536 12th + 29.6% + 1 rank
Shibata Micro Area 32,921 + 15.6%
Gosen Micro Area 16,498 + 21.3%
Maki Micro Area 10,466 + 8.1%
Muramatsu 9,674 + 6.2%
Shirone 9,318 + 15.9%
Suibara 7,837 + 4.0%
Kosudo 5,546 [new DID]
Niigata City 275,780 24th + 16.6% – 6 ranks
83.4% of metro area – 9.3% of metro area
The sprawl of the 1960s only accelerated in the 1970s, with a massive nationwide wave of urban development. Niigata in particular exemplified this trend, with a rapid expansion of city space accompanied by major population increase and density decrease. Niigata’s employment area also expanded as formerly independent small cities in the outer belt started to become commuter satellites.
Niigata Metro Area 498,636 12th + 50.9%
Shibata Micro Area 36,341 + 10.4%
Gosen Micro Area 25,132 + 52.3%
Shirone 9,347 + 0.3%
Niigata City 394,689 24th + 43.1%
79.2% of metro area – 4.2% of metro area
By the 1980s, the massive wave of urban expansion had largely run its course. Niigata grew at a reduced pace, but continued to expand its employment area, notably “taking over” the formerly independent city of Shibata.
Niigata Metro Area 602,491 12th + 20.8%
Gosen Micro Area 25,757 + 2.5%
Niigata City 426,364 22nd + 8.0% + 2 ranks
70.8% of metro area – 8.4% of metro area
Niigata’s growth continued to slow in the 1990s, with little visible change on the map. The city and urban area had begun to slide in ranking.
Niigata Metro Area 634,340 13th + 5.3% – 1 rank
Gosen Micro Area 24,530 – 4.8%
Niigata City 437,336 26th + 2.6% – 4 ranks
68.9% of metro area – 1.9% of metro area
In the 2000s, Niigata formally annexed many of its satellite cities, swelling the city proper’s population and share of the metropolitan area. As part of this expansion, the city divided into wards. At the same time, overall growth is still slow, and Niigata Metro is still losing rank to faster-growing cities elsewhere.
Niigata Metro Area 666,984 14th + 5.1% – 1 rank
Niigata City 583,329 18th + 33.4% + 8 ranks
87.5% of metro area + 18.6% of metro area
If there’s any city or region of Japan you’d like to see, just ask me in the comments!
National land numerical information (densely inhabited district data)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap