難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni

Hiroshima!  Metropole of the region called Chugoku, biggest urban area west of Kobe on the main island!  Hiroshima has long occupied its position among Japan’s Top Ten.  It was a castle town in the 16th century even before the Tokugawa regime, the second most populous city not controlled by the Shogunate (after Kanazawa) in the Edo period, and a major industrial city in the 20th century.  It endured a nuclear bombing, one of the most infamous destructions of a city in human history, but by the late 1950s the population had already recovered.

Along the bay to the east and west are two other cities not part of Greater Hiroshima, but which are very close and have had some interplay with Hiroshima.
To the east is Kure.  Historically, there was no such place and the area was very sparsely populated, with the small village of Washo existing where the city center is now.  Washo began to grow explosively in the 1890s as a seaport with a very military character, as the rapidly modernizing Imperial Navy sought bases from which to operate.  This development culminated in the 1901 merger of Washo and surrounding towns to create the new city of Kure.  Kure very quickly became a major national city, by 1940 almost as populous as Hiroshima itself.  It was a great arsenal city of the Empire, where the infamous battleship Yamato was built in secret.  With the greatly diminished role of the navy postwar, it never recovered its significance, but remained a major city into the 60s.
To the west in Yamaguchi Prefecture is Iwakuni, a minor castle town that took off in the 1930s as a local industrial city.

 


 

You can click on any map to enlarge it.

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1960-2010 Time Elapse

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1960-2010 Time Elapse

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1960

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1960

In 1960, urban Hiroshima was still shaped around the Ota river delta, with a very low density for a major city at the time.
Kure, still a major urban area despite the diminished role of the navy, had a distinct scattered form with multiple harbors.  Iwakuni was one of the lowest-density urban places in Japan, dominated by big raft of artificial land for a military airbase.

Hiroshima Metro Area     455,598     9th
Kure Metro Area     186,017     21st
Iwakuni Metro Area     50,150     90th
Takehara Micro Area     16,057
Otake Micro Area     12,725
Toyohama     5,595
Yutaka     5,380

Hiroshima City     406,991     10th
89.3% of metro area

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1970

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1970

Through the 1960s, Hiroshima City increased in density as it expanded, something very atypical for cities in the 60s.  New suburbs quickly emerged north of the city, especially upriver.
Kure also grew without sprawl, increasing in density as separate urban districts merged together.  North of Iwakuni, the town of Otake underwent explosive urban growth and the expansion of artificial coastline, turning into a continuous industrial zone with Iwakuni.

Hiroshima Metro Area     690,377     9th     + 51.5%
Kure Metro Area     216,178     24th     + 16.2%     – 3 ranks
Iwakuni Metro Area     59,902     90th     + 19.4%
Otake Micro Area     33,479     + 163.1%
Takehara Micro Area     14,001     – 12.8%

Hiroshima City     503,539     13th     + 23.7%     – 3 ranks
72.9% of metro area     – 16.4% of metro area

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1980

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1980

Urban Hiroshima underwent major changes in the 1970s.  The suburbs upriver from the city grew dramatically, before being annexed into the city proper, which then divided into wards in 1980.  Greater Hiroshima still retained a sort of “delta” shape, only far larger now.
Kure was now in outright decline, with some new inland suburban development but loss in the city center and a rapid loss of rank.  Iwakuni also stalled and dropped in rank.

Hiroshima Metro Area     935,304     9th     + 35.5%
Kure Metro Area     204,759     40th     – 5.3%     – 16 ranks
Iwakuni Metro Area     60,950     101st     + 1.7%     – 11 ranks
Otake Micro Area     36,257     + 8.3%
Takehara Micro Area     16,700     + 19.3%

Hiroshima City     740,899     12th     + 47.1%     + 1 rank
79.2% of metro area     + 6.3% of metro area

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1990

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 1990

Hiroshima’s inland suburban wards continued to expand markedly, as the city center lowered in density slightly.  The suburbs also expanded significantly to the west, with an elongated coastal belt emerging and the city of Otake joining the employment area.
Kure continued its precipitous decline, but Iwakuni recovered a strong growth rate.

Hiroshima Metro Area     1,143,983     8th     + 22.3%     + 1 rank
Kure Metro Area     196,342     56th     – 4.1%     – 16 ranks
Iwakuni Metro Area     70,709     98th     + 16.0%     + 3 ranks
Takehara     9,631     – 42.3%

Hiroshima City     948,634     10th     + 28.0%     + 2 ranks
82.9% of metro area     + 3.7% of metro area

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 2000

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 2000

Greater Hiroshima’s growth slowed down significantly in the 1990s, though smaller suburban developments continued to emerge inland.
Urban Kure’s population decline accelerated, but its rank decline actually slowed down since by now many regional cities were stagnating as well.  Iwakuni continued its gradual growth.

Hiroshima Metro Area     1,216,547     8th     + 6.3%
Kure Metro Area     181,202     61st     – 7.7%     – 5 ranks
Iwakuni Metro Area     73,803     96th     + 4.4%     + 2 ranks
Takehara     8,395     – 12.8%

Hiroshima City     987,542     10th     + 4.1%
81.2% of metro area     – 1.7% of metro area

 


 

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 2010

Hiroshima, Kure, and Iwakuni Metro Areas, 2010

In the early 2000s, a nationwide series of mergers changed the boundaries of many local municipalities.  As a result, Hiroshima City has been losing its suburbs!  The quickly growing inland city of Higashihiroshima has become independent and taken small Takehara with it.  Meanwhile, Hiroshima’s westernmost suburb of Otake has been “stolen” by Iwakuni.  At the same time, this is not actual population decline.  The city continues to slowly grow and increase in density, and may very well “retake” its fractious suburbs as it continues to grow in influence.
Though still a major shipbuilding city, Kure continues to decline in urban population even faster- greatly diminished in status and even down in population from the 1960 figures.

Hiroshima Metro Area     1,177,199     9th     – 3.2%     – 1 rank
Kure Metro Area     163,680     65th     – 9.7%     – 4 ranks
Iwakuni Metro Area     94,937     89th     + 28.6%     + 7 ranks
Higashihiroshima Micro Area     53,791     [split from Hiroshima]

Hiroshima City     1,012,198     11th     + 2.5%     – 1 rank
86.0% of metro area     + 4.8% 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_34_DID.shp, A16-60_35_DID.shp
1965: A16-65_34_DID.shp, A16-65_35_DID.shp
1970:
A16-70_34_DID.shp, A16-70_35_DID.shp
1975: A16-75_34_DID.shp, A16-75_35_DID.shp
1980: A16-80_34_DID.shp, A16-80_35_DID.shp
1985: A16-85_34_DID.shp, A16-85_35_DID.shp
1990: A16-90_34_DID.shp, A16-90_35_DID.shp
1995: A16-95_34_DID.shp, A16-95_35_DID.shp
2000: A16-00_34_DID.shp, A16-00_35_DID.shp
2005: A16-05_34_DID.shp, A16-05_35_DID.shp
2010: A16-10_34_DID.shp, A16-10_35_DID.shp
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap

Advertisements

3 responses

  1. lordkelvin54

    What’s it like on Etajima??

    June 14, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    • There’s nature and seafood, but in keeping with the area’s military history the old Imperial Naval Academy is there too.
      In case you’re wondering, Miyajima is the big rectangular looking island off the northwest of Etajima.

      June 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

  2. Pingback: Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Sendai | perihele

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s