Nara’s Sanjo SLOW Street

Like Kyoto, Nara was modeled on Chinese capitals, and thus has a relatively more grid-like layout than most Japanese cities.  In the aerial view below, the streets of central Nara are highlighted hierarchically as follows:
– Magenta:    Arcades and open air, car-free shopping streets.
Magenta Outline:  Stations (left end: elevated JR Nara, top: subway Kintetsu Nara).
– Cyan:           SLOW street (Sanjo Dori).
– Red:             “Busy” Boulevards.
– Orange:       “Quiet” Boulevards.
– Yellow:        Woonerfs & Narrow Streets.
– Green:         Residential (and temple) laneways.  Only a fraction (2/3?) are highlighted.

Nara Highlighted Aerial
The cyan / light-blue street is Nara Sanjo-Dori, a Single Lane One Way street.

Note that the whole highlighted area lies within a single island of walkability (Sanjo-Dori bridges the busy north-south road with a safe & comfortable scramble intersection).

The Hierarchy of Japanese Streets categorizes the highlighted streets as follows* (with stats given for this area of Nara specifically):
AA streets lengths

Measuring the length of each type of street* allows the whole map to be summarized with a “streets hierarchy spectograph”:
AA hierarchy spectograph
* Only a fraction (2/3?) of the Laneways are counted and highlighted (green).

By length, the dominant typology is Level 2 on the hierarchy (“Woonerfs and Narrow Streets: slow and very narrow streets where people and cars mix or are separated by a painted line”).

In terms of where the shops and people are to be found, Levels 6 and 5 (Shotengai etc. & SLOW streets) are overwhelmingly dominant.


Keep an eye out for these key S.L.O.W. features:
– Absence of parking lanes.
– Frequently spaced trees and/or stone bollards.
– Curbless #SuperFlat facade-to-facade pavement.

JR Nara Station (with historical station in front) as seen from the west end of the S.L.O.W. portion of Sanjo-Dori.  Note the enormous roofed bus concourse:
Sanjo 99

Proceeding eastwards from JR Nara:
Sanjo 97Sanjo 95
Sanjo 93Sanjo 91Sanjo 87Sanjo 85Sanjo 83Sanjo 81Sanjo 79

The scramble intersection (car phase and ped phase, respectively):
Sanjo 77 scrambleSanjo 75 scrambleSanjo 73Sanjo 71
Sanjo 69Sanjo 67Sanjo 65Sanjo 63Sanjo 61Sanjo 59Sanjo 57Sanjo 55


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