Hierarchy of Japanese Streets

The transportation structure of Japanese cities can be decomposed into pedestrian and vehicular networks.  In some places they run side-by-side, in other places they overlap (woonerf), but for the most part, they are completely separate. Both of these networks are hierarchical in form: Hierarchy of Driving 1. Woonerfs – slow and very narrow streets where people and cars mix. 2. Narrow Streets – streets just wide enough for a … Continue reading Hierarchy of Japanese Streets

kobe route 54 artists impression

Road Diet in Kobe: Fukiai-Minami (葺合南)

  The city of Kobe is currently moving forward with major street improvements which will culminate in the total pedestrianization of downtown’s Sannomiya area (a major commuter rail hub with no less than six stations).  This will greatly enhance the overall appeal of central Kobe, and could be a real game changer for international tourism. The following is a rough translation of this press release, which describes … Continue reading Road Diet in Kobe: Fukiai-Minami (葺合南)

Maps are for People, Addresses are for Cars

If you want people to visit you, don’t give them your address; give them a map. Addresses are for people going directly from point A to point B, without doing anything useful on the way: no side-errands, no socializing, no stopping to enjoy food or drink. Maps are for people for whom physical space has meaning; if something interesting lies between their point of origin and their … Continue reading Maps are for People, Addresses are for Cars

デッキ論: deck levels vs pedestrian overpasses

What is the difference between a deck level (デッキ) and a pedestrian overpass (歩道橋)?  How can we classify the pedestrian infrastructure at JR Ueno Station, pictured above? The common characteristic: grade separation of motor vehicles and pedestrians. I propose that deck levels have one primary characteristic which distinguishes them from pedestrian overpasses: direct connectivity to adjacent buildings. In pedestrian overpasses, on the other hand, the connectivity is broken … Continue reading デッキ論: deck levels vs pedestrian overpasses

#SuperFlat: Smooth Sidewalks and Vulnerable Populations

For the first time in history, there are many people in the “oldest old” category, and this population continues to grow. These very old people can be considered the “new humans,” recent newcomers in the history of mankind. -Sachiko Kamiyama, The Super Aged Society A lot of factors go into creating a good pedestrian experience.  Many of them are visible and obvious: shade trees, wide sidewalks, narrow roads. … Continue reading #SuperFlat: Smooth Sidewalks and Vulnerable Populations

view from the waterfront by Kevin O'Shea

Kobe High Line 神戸の臨港線

The backbone of the Kobe High Line* is an old elevated railroad track (the Harbor Line / 臨港線), now converted into a pedestrian promenade.  It has been expanded with a new pedestrian overpass (歩道橋) that connects it directly to the Kobe Waterfront and Hanshin Kasuganomichi Station (阪神春日野道駅). The aerial view below shows covered arcades in green, pedestrian bridges and elevated promenades in yellow, and rail stations in … Continue reading Kobe High Line 神戸の臨港線

view from station

Amagasaki High Line 尼崎ハイライン(立体遊歩道)

Amagasaki’s High Line* is a raised pedestrian plaza, with direct connections to neighboring buildings at sky level, and multiple public stairs and elevators. It runs approximate 1300 feet (1/6 the length of NYC’s High Line), from Hanshin Amagasaki Station (阪神尼崎駅) at the west end to the Amagasaki Cultural Center at the north end.  Its total surface area is just over 3 acres. Immediately west of the High … Continue reading Amagasaki High Line 尼崎ハイライン(立体遊歩道)

area map

Kobe: Itayado Arcades (板宿商店街)

Itayado Hon-dori (板宿本通) runs north from Itayado Station, and together with a number of branch arcades, it connects 18 city blocks with a continuous glass roof (with the proviso that Shin-machi-dori is not fully connected, strictly speaking). At ~640 feet long, Itayado Hon-dori is one of the shortest arcades in Kobe.  Altogether, this group of arcades has a combined length of only ~1900 feet.  And yet, as … Continue reading Kobe: Itayado Arcades (板宿商店街)

view from SW

Nagoya: Bus Terminal (Oasis 21) 栄バスターミナル(オアシス21)

“Oasis 21” is an enclosed bus terminal attached to an open-air shopping center.  It is located at the intersection of two major subway lines (and the terminus of a third), and is directly connected to the large underground malls of the Sakae area (e.g. 森の地下街、クリスタル広場). It is a “3D” station, with four layers.  From top to bottom: A publicly accessible glass roof.  This “Spaceship-Aqua” is covered in water, save … Continue reading Nagoya: Bus Terminal (Oasis 21) 栄バスターミナル(オアシス21)