Hierarchy of Japanese Streets – Illustrated

Pedestrian movement paths in Japanese cities can be decomposed hierarchically, proceeding from the narrowest residential laneways to the busiest shopping streets (near rail stations).
As described previously, the highest levels of the pedestrian hierarchy are completely separate from the vehicular network.
The following illustration shows the structure of these streets near Sannomiya station
  • dark green: subway tunnels
  • light green: shopping arcades
  • blue: nightlife alleys
  • peach: boulevards
  • yellow: woonerfs
Hierarchy of Walking – Kitanagasadori, Kobe (神戸北長狭通)
Level 2. Woonerfs – slow and very narrow streets where cars and people mix.
Level 4. Boulevards – sidewalks with physically separated streets.


Level 5A. Tunnels & underground shopping malls connected to train stations.

Level 5B. Shopping streets and arcades (usually connected/adjacent to train stations).

Shopping Arcade.  From photosphere by Hisatomo Tatsuki.

Level 5C. Nightlife Alleys – narrow alleys lined with bars, izakaya, etc (usually adjacent to train stations, e.g. Omoide Yokocho).

The alley below can also be seen in this video.  Alley starts at 1:50.

Nightlife Alley.  From photosphere by Hisatomo Tatsuki.

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