Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Fukuoka Coal Country
If Sapporo had Sorachi, Fukuoka City had its own eastern coal region called Chikuho, in inland Fukuoka Prefecture. Like Sorachi, the Chikuho region was sparsely populated historically, with no significant regional centers. Population surged suddenly in the 1910s, though, with industrializing Japan’s new appetite for fuel. Unlike Sorachi, which continued to grow right through the 1940s, the Chikuho region dropped in population due to the influence of the Second World War, though it doesn’t appear there were any significant air raids. Like Sorachi, Chikuho began to empty of urban population after 1960, as Japanese industry switched to petroleum and Fukuoka City beckoned to the west.
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
1960 was the peak of urban population in the region, at least as far back as the DID data goes. Though most of the mining towns were still independent from each other, Iizuka already had its own near satellites, Futase to the northwest and contiguous Honami to the south.
As in Sorachi, the coal towns of Chikuho had changed their names as they grew. Tagawa was two separate towns, Ita and Gotoji, until a 1940s merger, and Gotoji itself was known as Yugeta up until the 1900s. Yamada was called Kumada until the 1920s, and Akaike was called Ueno until the end of the 1930s.
Iizuka Micro Area 57,463 82nd
Tagawa Metro Area 52,284 88th
Inatsuki Micro Area 28,634
Miyata Micro Area 25,074
Yamada Micro Area 20,913
Kawasaki Micro Area 13,567
The urban population of Chikuho plummeted in the 1960s, with many mining towns simply vanishing off the map and the rest greatly diminished.
At the same time, urban employment areas expanded rapidly, with most remaining urbanized coal towns falling into the orbits of significant cities in the area. Miyata in the northwest became a satellite of Kitakyushu, the industrial metropolis to the north (off the map). Inatsuki became a satellite of Iizuka, and Futase outright merged into Iizuka City proper. Tagawa meanwhile took Kawasaki as a satellite.
The region of formerly independent scattered towns had already taken on a “twin cities” character. Note, though, that even this metropolitan expansion failed to stem the decline of the two cities.
Iizuka Micro Area 53,548 100th – 6.8% – 18 ranks
Tagawa Micro Area 43,586 – 16.6% – 33 ranks
Yamada 8,904 – 57.4%
Chikuho experienced a surprising reprieve from decline in the 1970s, with population recovery, some outward sprawl, and the re-emergence of urban Soeda as a suburb of Tagawa.
Iizuka Micro Area 57,248 + 6.9% – 5 ranks
Tagawa Micro Area 47,237 + 8.4%
Yamada 9,902 + 11.2%
Urban Tagawa began to rapidly decline again, and DIDs started disappearing off the map once more. Iizuka, though, expanded outwards even faster, bringing southward Yamada into its metropolitan area and even making its way back onto the Top 100.
Iizuka Metro Area 76,016 94th + 32.8% + 11 ranks
Tagawa Micro Area 36,015 – 23.8%
Urban decline only increased in the 1990s, with the borders of major DIDs visibly shrinking and “dissolving.”
Iizuka Micro Area 70,446 99th – 7.3% – 5 ranks
Tagawa Micro Area 29,193 – 28.9%
Chikuho’s urban decline has taken a surprisingly drastic turn recently. Honami has merged into Iizuka City proper, but all other densely populated areas outside of the two main cities have quickly disappeared.
Unlike some of Sorachi’s former urban areas which are literally returning to nature, Chikuho’s former urban areas are faring much better, remaining populated and distinct town spaces just not large and dense enough to register as DIDs anymore.
Iizuka Metro Area 53,622 – 23.9% – 19 ranks
Tagawa Micro Area 19,961 – 31.6%
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