Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Sendai
Tohoku, the chilly region on the northeast end of Honshu, is not known for its urbania. In the last few centuries, there has been one city that can be called a Tohoku metropolis- Sendai. In the feudal age it was one of the largest castle towns not under direct Shogunate control, at times the third largest after Kanazawa and Hiroshima. It lost some population after the fall of the feudal order, but remained in or around the lower Top 10 afterwards, even growing right through the 1940s.
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Sendai Metro Area, 1960-2010 Time Elapse
Sendai Metro Area, 1960
Sendai had already grown far beyond the confines of the old castle city by 1960, with a few far-flung satellite towns to the south all the way to Shibata.
Sendai Metro Area 357,559 10th
Shiogama Micro Area 45,417 96th
Sendai City 335,979 12th
94.0% of metro area
Sendai Metro Area, 1970
Urban Sendai expanded significantly in the 1960s. The port city of Shiogama joined the employment area, and the broad new suburb of Tagajo emerged to its south. Sendai City’s drop in rank, despite its expansion, reflected the massive nationwide growth of major Japanese cities at the time.
Sendai Metro Area 564,637 10th + 57.9%
Taiwa 5,589 [new DID]
Sendai City 439,290 15th + 30.7% – 3 ranks
77.8% of metro area – 16.2% of metro area
Sendai Metro Area, 1980
Rapid growth continued through the 1970s. Sendai City and the area around Shiogama grew towards each other, and the city of Izumi, on Sendai’s north side, emerged as a major suburb. More growth happened to the south in this period, with Natori and Iwanuma spreading out and developing.
Sendai Metro Area 821,975 10th + 45.6%
Sendai City 584,140 14th + 33.0% + 1 rank
71.1% of metro area – 6.7% of metro area
Sendai Metro Area, 1990
In the 1980s it was the city proper that developed the most, expanding mostly north and east, connecting to the Shiogama area, annexing Izumi City and dividing into wards.
Sendai Metro Area 980,798 10th + 19.3%
Sendai City 774,143 13th + 32.5% + 1 rank
78.9% of metro area + 7.8% of metro area
Sendai Metro Area, 2000
Sendai sustained major growth even during the “slowdown period” of the 1990s, resulting in the urban area finally shifting rank and passing Kitakyushu. This growth mostly took the form of large numbers of small suburban developments to the north and west of the city center, in the hilly inlands. Izumi Ward also filled in significantly on the north end of town.
Sendai Metro Area 1,149,274 9th + 17.2% + 1 rank
Sendai City 892,252 12th + 15.3% + 1 rank
77.6% of metro area – 1.3% of metro area
Sendai Metro Area, 2010
Sendai’s urban growth has slowed down markedly since 2000, with only small developments still emerging to the north and west. The area has gained another rank and passed Hiroshima, but this is less due to Greater Sendai’s growth than the fragmentation of Hiroshima’s outer suburbs caused by shifting borders after the recent wave of municipal mergers.
Sendai Metro Area 1,206,718 8th + 5.0% + 1 rank
Sendai City 931,677 12th + 4.4%
77.2% of metro area – 0.4% of metro area
The epicenter of the March 11th, 2011 earthquake was offshore from the Sendai area, and coastal suburbs like Shiogama and Natori were among the most damaged by the tsunami. Urban Sendai City was largely unscathed though, being more securely inland. As a result the city has actually fared rather well, with not only the city proper but its inland suburbs growing significantly. Even Natori’s coastal flats have been recovering pretty well. The more traditional port area around Shiogama still shows diminished population though, as do many of the port cities on the east cost of Tohoku.
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