Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Fukuoka
Fukuoka, biggest city on the southern island of Kyushu! It’s one of Japan’s oldest cities, at least as old as Kyoto and Nara. It may even be the oldest. Hakata, as it was once called, was reputedly the “capital” of the Yamato tribe before they sailed to modern-day Kansai at the turn of the 3rd century CE. Of course, with no written language yet and most structures made of wood, there’s very little concrete information about the era.
In the Edo period it became a twin city: Hakata the old port town and Fukuoka the newer castle town. The two merged in the late 19th century, but took the name of the castle town at the “insistence” of some recently unemployed samurai who crashed the city council meeting. Throughout Japan’s industrialization, various Kyushu cities took their turn as the island’s largest, such as Kumamoto, Nagasaki, and Kitakyushu. Fukuoka has outpaced them all, though, to become a major national hub.
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
In 1960, Fukuoka was the second largest urban area in Kyushu, after the industrial region called Kitakyushu (also in Fukuoka Prefecture). The urban area had a distinct delta form, with several small suburbs clustered at the narrow inland end.
Fukuoka Metro Area 565,394 7th
Tosu Micro Area 17,142
Fukuoka City 521,866 8th
92.3% of metro area
Urban Fukuoka sprawled out significantly in the 1960s, extending inland especially. Yet despite its major growth, the city and greater area lost ranking, an indication of just how fast major cities were growing at that time.
Fukuoka Metro Area 855,839 8th + 51.4% – 1 rank
Tosu Micro Area 17,322 + 1.1%
Fukuoka City 720,202 10th + 38.0% – 2 ranks
84.2% of metro area – 8.1% of metro area
Fukuoka grew even faster throughout the 1970s, passing Kitakyushu to become the most populous urban area in Kyushu. The “delta” mostly expanded to the north and east, especially along the coast. Formerly independent Tosu in Saga Prefecture joined the area, and the city proper was divided into wards.
Like its northern counterpart Sapporo, Fukuoka’s sustained rapid growth may have been fueled by the decline of the coal industry. Inner Fukuoka Prefecture, like inner Hokkaido, was host to a number of mining cities that began to evaporate off the map as Japan switched to petroleum and people moved to the “big city” for opportunities.
Fukuoka Metro Area 1,337,253 7th + 56.3% + 1 rank
Fukuoka City 999,477 9th + 38.8% +1 rank
74.7% of metro area – 9.5% of metro area
Greater Fukuoka’s growth slowed in the 1980s, though still at a pretty high rate. The urban area expanded to the point it “stole” Munakata from Kitakyushu, which by this point was stagnating. The contiguous “delta” expanded rather uniformly at its edges. Unlike many major cities at the time, Fukuoka City generally increased in density during this period, and ward splits revealed a concentration of population to the west of the city center.
Fukuoka Metro Area 1,678,516 7th + 25.5%
Fukuoka City 1,164,226 8th + 16.5% +1 rank
69.4% of metro area – 5.3% of metro area
Fukuoka slowed further, but continued to sustain double-digit growth. There was plenty of small development at the edges, but a lot of overall increase in density as well. Despite never having significantly “hollowed out” in the first place, central Fukuoka grew markedly in population, presaging the “recentralization” trend that came a decade later in many major cities.
Despite this urban expansion, Tosu actually split off from the most inland part of Greater Fukuoka to become independent again.
Fukuoka Metro Area 1,926,865 7th + 14.8%
Tosu Micro Area 29,762 [split from Fukuoka]
Fukuoka City 1,284,574 8th + 10.3%
66.7% of metro area – 2.7% of metro area
The Fukuoka urban area continues to grow at a notable rate, having recently passed Kobe. There are some small developments at the edges, and marked density increase in the city proper. In particular, Chuo-ku is growing into a dense residential center in the heart of the city, something none of Japan’s other major cities currently possess.
Tosu, while no longer part of Greater Fukuoka, is also growing rapidly, sprouting its own suburbs, and beginning to physically connect to Fukuoka’s “urban delta.”
Fukuoka Metro Area 2,135,871 6th + 10.8% + 1 rank
Tosu Micro Area 42,477 + 42.7%
Fukuoka City 1,405,700 8th + 9.4%
65.8% of metro area – 0.9% 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_40_DID.shp, A16-60_41_DID.shp
1965: A16-65_40_DID.shp, A16-65_41_DID.shp
1970: A16-70_40_DID.shp, A16-70_41_DID.shp
1975: A16-75_40_DID.shp, A16-75_41_DID.shp
1980: A16-80_40_DID.shp, A16-80_41_DID.shp
1985: A16-85_40_DID.shp, A16-85_41_DID.shp
1990: A16-90_40_DID.shp, A16-90_41_DID.shp
1995: A16-95_40_DID.shp, A16-95_41_DID.shp
2000: A16-00_40_DID.shp, A16-00_41_DID.shp
2005: A16-05_40_DID.shp, A16-05_41_DID.shp
2010: A16-10_40_DID.shp, A16-10_41_DID.shp
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap