Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Nagoya
If Tokyo is the capital of Japan, Osaka the “second city”, and Kyoto the old capital, Nagoya is often called the “middle capital”, located in between Kanto and Kansai. The third most significant of Japan’s urban areas, Metropolitan Nagoya is distinctly smaller than the sprawling megalopolises of Osaka and Tokyo, but decidedly larger than any of the major metropolitan areas further down the list. While the City of Nagoya itself is almost as populous as the City of Osaka, it has far less economic “sway” over its surroundings, making its commuter base much more contained. Major neighboring cities like Gifu, Toyota, and Okazaki remain independent from Nagoya despite their close proximity.
Nagoya’s a great city, though, highly underrated among people in Japan, many of whom seem genuinely surprised when I tell them how often I’ve visited there. So without further ado…
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
Metropolitan Nagoya in 1960 was mostly limited to the city and immediate environs. Some small cities further north and south were also satellites, but interestingly the employment area didn’t extend very far east or west. This “north-south axis” continues to be a defining characteristic of the Nagoya urban area to this day.
Nagoya Metro Area 1,607,591 3rd
Ichinomiya Metro Area 74,605 67th (Aichi)
Handa Micro Area 53,894 87th (Aichi)
Seto Micro Area 45,011 97th (Aichi)
Kuwana Micro Area 38,720 (Mie)
Tajimi Micro Area 25,395 (Gifu)
Tokoname Micro Area 24,955 (Aichi)
Tsushima Micro Area 24,757 (Aichi)
Bisai Micro Area 24,540 (Aichi)
Toki Micro Area 15,013 (Gifu)
Nagoya City 1,465,237 3rd
91.1% of metro area
Nagoya City was already rather low-density and diffuse for a city of its population and stature in 1960, though there was some concentration of population northwest of the city center in Nakamura-ku and Nishi-ku. Minato-ku, the port ward, was already extremely low-density, being mostly non-residential. This was before a series of municipal mergers in the 1960s, so Moriyama-ku was still a separate city, and Midori-ku several towns.
Large numbers of scattered small satellite cities emerged around Nagoya in the 1960s, especially to the north. More than many other cities at the time, Nagoya also greatly expanded its employment area, absorbing the notable local cities of Handa and Seto and reaching into Mie Prefecture.
Nagoya Metro Area 2,401,668 3rd + 49.4%
Ichinomiya Metro Area 96,879 72nd + 29.9% – 5 ranks
Tajimi Micro Area 26,963 + 6.2%
Tokoname Micro Area 26,147 + 4.8%
Bisai Micro Area 23,235 – 5.3%
Toki Micro Area 20,864 + 39.0%
Nagoya City 1,854,273 4th + 26.6% – 1 rank
77.2% of metro area – 13.9% of metro area
Nagoya expanded outwards in the 1960s in every direction, though it lost a rank to the even more rapidly growing Yokohama. Artificial land in the port was extended, and municipal mergers turned suburban towns to the northeast and southeast into the new wards of Moriyama and Midori, already the quickest growing parts of the city. Population density lowered and diffused more across the city, and the central wards began to “hollow out” as with other major cities at the time.
Greater Nagoya’s sprawl and decentralization accelerated in the 1970s, with the characteristic increase in area and drop in density. As in the 1960s, expansion was greatest to the north, and the significant local city of Ichinomiya fell into Nagoya’s orbit. To the south, massive industrial development of Nagoya Harbor ensued, but Handa actually became independent of Metropolitan Nagoya. Handa’s “popping in and out” of the Nagoya urban area continues to be a characteristic of the region to this day.
Nagoya Metro Area 3,291,876 3rd + 37.1%
Handa Metro Area 79,514 85th [split from Nagoya]
Toki Micro Area 36,731 + 76.0%
Tokoname Micro Area 34,048 + 30.2%
Nagoya City 2,001,908 4th + 8.0%
60.8% of metro area – 16.4% of metro area
Nagoya continued to expand out in the 1970s, accompanied by yet more “evening out” and lowering of density. Though overall growth slowed, the east side continued to grow at such a high rate, the new wards of Meito and Tenpaku had to be created to delineate the new urban growth from the older, less dynamic inner areas.
The Nagoya employment area continued to expand, now reaching into Gifu Prefecture to the north. Suburban expansion was slowing down and becoming smaller in scale, as with many cities in the 1980s, though small developments continued to emerge in numbers.
Nagoya Metro Area 3,806,468 3rd + 15.6%
Toki Micro Area 35,192 – 4.2%
Nagoya City 2,085,136 4th + 4.2%
54.8% of metro area – 6.0% of metro area
Growth in Nagoya city was slowing considerably, with many wards now slightly dropping in population. The exception was the east edge of the city, which continued to gradually expand.
More small-scale suburban development all around.
Nagoya-Komaki Metro Area 4,122,446 3rd + 8.3%
Toki Micro Area 40,010 + 13.7%
Nagoya City 2,119,714 4th + 1.7%
51.4% of metro area – 3.4% of metro area
Nagoya City’s growth slowed even more through the 1990s, with the usual pattern of diffusing density and slow decline across most of the city and growth on the east side. Midori-ku expanded in area while Tenpaku-ku increased in density.
Greater Nagoya’s expansion continues to be gradual and haphazard, but the city proper is accelerating in growth again.
Nagoya-Komaki Metro Area 4,279,800 3rd + 3.8%
Handa Metro Area 138,713 74th [split from Nagoya]
Nagoya City 2,216,845 4th + 4.6%
51.8% of metro area + 0.4% of metro area
Nagoya City never declined in population the way Osaka or Tokyo did during their suburban phases, so its recentralization has been less pronounced so far. As city growth increases, the eastern wards have slowed down, but now population is increasing in Naka-ku and Higashi-ku, heart of the old city, for the first time in decades. With Nagoya’s uniform overall density, this means the city is already no longer “hollow” at its center.
If there’s any city or region of Japan you’d like to see, just ask me in the comments! Really, I do requests!
National land numerical information (densely inhabited district data)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
1960: A16-60_21_DID.shp, A16-60_23_DID.shp, A16-60_24_DID.shp
1965: A16-65_21_DID.shp, A16-65_23_DID.shp, A16-65_24_DID.shp
1970: A16-70_21_DID.shp, A16-70_23_DID.shp, A16-70_24_DID.shp
1975: A16-75_21_DID.shp, A16-75_23_DID.shp, A16-75_24_DID.shp
1980: A16-80_21_DID.shp, A16-80_23_DID.shp, A16-80_24_DID.shp
1985: A16-85_21_DID.shp, A16-85_23_DID.shp, A16-85_24_DID.shp
1990: A16-90_21_DID.shp, A16-90_23_DID.shp, A16-90_24_DID.shp
1995: A16-95_21_DID.shp, A16-95_23_DID.shp, A16-95_24_DID.shp
2000: A16-00_21_DID.shp, A16-00_23_DID.shp, A16-00_24_DID.shp
2005: A16-05_21_DID.shp, A16-05_23_DID.shp, A16-05_24_DID.shp
2010: A16-10_21_DID.shp, A16-10_23_DID.shp, A16-10_24_DID.shp
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap