Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Hakodate
I’ve gotten a request from an old Kyoto classmate to look at Hakodate, southernmost major city of Hokkaido and gateway to the rest of the island. It began as port town in the feudal age when Hokkaido, known as Ezochi, was a frontier beyond Shogunate control, sparsely populated by the Ainu people. As Hokkaido was rapidly settled in the early 20th century, Hakodate quickly grew into one of Japan’s largest cities, and Hokkaido’s largest before Sapporo outpaced it in the late 1930s. Still a major city in the 1960s, Hakodate has been sliding in status ever since, making it a good example of a different kind of city from the ones I’ve discussed before- a city in apparent decline.
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
Hakodate Metro Area, 1960-2010 Time Elapse
Hakodate Metro Area, 1960
Metropolitan Hakodate was a much more significant urban area in 1960 than it is now. The city space, still mostly located on the peninsula, was dense even by the densely populated standards of the day. West along the shore of the Hakodate Bay was Kamiiso, Hakodate’s one satellite town with a concentrated population.
Hakodate Metro Area 242,746 15th
Hakodate City 236,259 19th
97.3% of urban area
Hakodate Metro Area, 1970
The city of Hakodate was already losing urban population by the early 1960s. The metro area still continued to grow on a whole even though it was being outpaced by other cities. Most significantly, the town of Kameda to the north of the city rapidly developed into a major suburb and extension of Hakodate’s city space.
Hakodate Metro Area 270,576 20th + 11.5% – 5 ranks
Hakodate City 227,815 34th – 3.6% – 15 ranks
84.2% of urban area – 13.1% of urban area
Hakodate Metro Area, 1980
Hakodate continued to be outpaced by other cities, but accelerated in growth during the 1970s. The city was growing in population again, even adjusting for the fact it had annexed Kameda into the city limits. The city space continued to extend inland, decreasing in density. Kamiiso was growing more too, extending along the coastline towards Hakodate.
It was during this period that Hakodate became the site of one of the Cold War’s more famous stories, when Russian pilot Viktor Belenko flew his MiG-25 “Foxbat” to Hakodate Airport, giving America its first look at an interceptor shrouded in wild speculation.
Hakodate Metro Area 309,524 25th + 14.4% – 5 ranks
Hakodate City 289,900 42nd + 27.2% – 8 ranks
93.7% of urban area + 9.5% of urban area
Hakodate Metro Area, 1990
In the 1980s, most major cities in Hokkaido began to decline in population, for reasons I honestly don’t know. Hakodate was among them, though there was still expansion in the northwest of the city.
Hakodate Metro Area 295,289 29th – 4.6% – 4 ranks
Hakodate City 274,115 51st – 5.4% – 9 ranks
92.8% of urban area – 0.9% of urban area
Hakodate Metro Area, 2000
Greater Hakodate’s decline abated somewhat in the 1990s, with new suburban developments quickly emerging further north of the city, towards Nanae. A lot of the growth was cancelled out by shrinking population in the city proper, no longer quite the dense major city it once was.
Hakodate Metro Area 298,587 32nd + 1.1% – 3 ranks
Hakodate City 260,357 58th – 5.0% – 7 ranks
87.2% of urban area – 5.6% of urban area
Hakodate Metro Area, 2010
There continues to be a fair deal of small-scale development on the edges of urban Hakodate. Nevertheless, the area has begun losing population once more, and the city proper is shrinking faster than ever.
Kamiiso has changed its name to Hokuto since the nationwide mergers of the early 21st century.
Hakodate Metro Area 283,432 40th – 5.1% – 8 ranks
Hakodate City 240,101 70th – 7.8% – 12 ranks
84.7% of urban area – 2.5% of urban area
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
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap