難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Sapporo and Chitose

Sapporo, Japan’s wintry northern metropolis!  It’s a very new city by Japanese standards, starting in the mid 19th century as a frontier settlers’ village on the Ishikari plains.  As I mentioned in another post, Hokkaido’s southern port of Hakodate was the most populous city and de facto capital of the island in the 19th century.  The new Meiji government, however, was concerned Russia might try to settle northern Hokkaido ahead of Japan, so they moved the regional capital to Sapporo, still a small town, in order to gain a clear foothold in the area.  In the century or so since, it’s grown like mad and outpaced its contemporaries to become not just Hokkaido’s biggest city, but one of the nation’s biggest.

 


 

You can click on any map to enlarge it.

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 1960-2010 Time Elapse

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 1960-2010 Time Elapse

 


 

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1960

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1960

By 1960, Sapporo had already grown into a major national city.  Otaru, on the west side of Ishikari Bay, was another of Hokkaido’s oldest major cities.  Otaru, like Hakodate, had been more populous than Sapporo in the past, and even briefly became Hokkaido’s biggest city in the early 20th century.  Despite having lost ranking since, it was still a very dense and significant city in 1960.

Sapporo Metro Area     496,302     8th
Otaru Metro Area     161,921     24th
Chitose Micro Area     22,306
Eniwa Micro Area     14,176
Ebetsu Micro Area     13,101
Yoichi Micro Area     10,648

Sapporo City     455,209     9th
91.7% of metro area

 


 

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1970

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1970

Sapporo’s urban growth in the 1960s was astonishing, expanding in every direction while only slightly lowering in density.  Ebetsu joined Sapporo’s employment area, with a belt of developments already beginning to connect the two cities.  The formerly rural town of Chitose to the south also expanded dramatically with the construction of the regional airport that serves Sapporo, which also accounted for the sudden plummet in apparent population density.  Many other nearby regional cities also grew significantly.
Otaru, though, had already peaked and was beginning to decline, with a precipitous drop in ranking.  The coal industry was coming to an end in Japan, with industries modernizing and switching to petroleum.  Otaru and the coal mining towns in interior Hokkaido were emptying out, fueling Sapporo’s rapid growth as people moved to the “big city” for better opportunities.

Sapporo Metro Area     867,084     7th     + 74.7%     + 1 rank
Otaru Metro Area     155,662     44th     – 3.9%     – 20 ranks
Chitose Micro Area     38,307     + 71.7%
Eniwa Micro Area     18,701     + 31.9%
Yoichi Micro Area     16,713     + 57.0%
Tobetsu     6,883     [new DID]

Sapporo City     823,233     9th     + 80.8%
94.9% of metro area     + 3.2% of metro area

 


 

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1980

Sapporo Metro Area and Chitose Micro Area, 1980

Greater Sapporo continued to grow rapidly in population and status through the 1970s.  The city hosted the first Winter Olympics outside of Europe and North America in 1972, and was divided into wards in 1975.  Ebetsu and Sapporo continued to slowly grow together, and new satellites continued to emerge around the city, especially to the north.  Otaru, while continuing to lose population, also became a major satellite of Sapporo.

Sapporo Metro Area     1,524,943     6th     + 75.9%     + 1 rank
Chitose Micro Area     47,841     + 24.9%
Eniwa Micro Area     27,821     + 48.8%
Yoichi Micro Area     19,187     + 14.8%

Sapporo City     1,265,054     6th     + 53.7%     + 3 ranks
83.0% of metro area     – 11.9% of metro area

 


 

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 1990

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 1990

Sapporo continued to grow significantly, though at the relatively slower pace common for the 1980s.  Many close satellites grew to the point they began to merge into one another as a contiguous city space.  Sapporo City, already very uniform in density among its wards, evened out even further.  To the south, Eniwa joined Greater Sapporo and Chitose continued to forge ahead in its expansion.  Otaru was still in steady decline, joined now by its western neighbor Yoichi which lost a great proportion of its urban population.

Sapporo Metro Area     1,915,404     6th     + 25.6%
Chitose Metro Area     65,537     + 37.0%
Yoichi Micro Area     13,798     – 28.1%

Sapporo City     1,570,733     5th     + 24.2%     + 1 rank
82.0% of metro area     – 1.0% of metro area

 


 

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 2000

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 2000

Sapporo continued to slow down through the 1990s, though its urban growth rate was still pretty fast compared to many other major areas.  Close satellites continued to grow together, with Ebetsu now contiguous with the city of Sapporo.  A ward split accounted for the apparent increase of density in the city proper, as the less dense suburban edges were sectioned off from the denser old parts of the city.
Chitose experienced a major leap in status as it actually “stole” the suburb of Eniwa off of Greater Sapporo and vaulted into the top 100 urban areas.

Sapporo Metro Area     2,094,069     5th     + 9.3%     + 1 rank
Chitose Metro Area     129,170     76th     + 97.1%     + 29 ranks
Yoichi Micro Area     12,032     – 12.8%

Sapporo City     1,759,684     5th     + 12.0%
84.0% of metro area     + 2.0% of metro area

 


 

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 2010

Sapporo and Chitose Metro Areas, 2010

After a long period of pronounced growth, Sapporo seems to “cooling down”, though growth continues.  Even though the city never markedly decentralized like some older or larger cities, it’s still following the trend of recentralization.  Chuo-ku, the central ward of the old city, has visibly risen in density to give the formerly uniform-looking city a dense urban center.  Otaru continues to decline, but has nevertheless become a secondary core of the greater urban area.

Sapporo-Otaru Metro Area     2,184,387     5th     + 4.3%
Chitose Metro Area     141,923     73rd     + 9.9%     + 3 ranks

Sapporo City     1,846,399     5th     + 4.9%
84.5% of metro area     + 0.5% of metro 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
1960: A16-60_01_DID.shp
1965: A16-65_01_DID.shp
1970:
A16-70_01_DID.shp
1975: A16-75_01_DID.shp
1980: A16-80_01_DID.shp
1985: A16-85_01_DID.shp
1990: A16-90_01_DID.shp
1995: A16-95_01_DID.shp
2000: A16-00_01_DID.shp
2005: A16-05_01_DID.shp
2010: A16-10_01_DID.shp
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Fukuoka | perihele

  2. Pingback: Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Hokkaido Coal Country | perihele

  3. Pingback: Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Fukuoka Coal Country | perihele

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