Using Space Syntax to Trace the Japanese Urban Renovation from JYOKAMACHI to Modern Cities: What formed the city, the Centre or the Boundary?

Tsuyoshi Kigawa, Kyung Wook Seo

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Most of the spatial structures of Japanese major cities were founded as JYOKAMACHI, which means Japanese "castle town" built in pre-modern era. In contrast to castle towns in Europe and other Asian countries, the characteristics of JYOKAMACHI can be summarized in the nonexistence of city walls, and the distinct zoning based on the social level; SAMURAI (Warrior), merchants and the clergy class. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), JYOKAMACHI had been remodelled under the strong influence of modernization, in an attempt to catch up with the western countries. Social renovation could be understood as the transformation in meaning of the castle, from centre of authority to a mere symbolic centre. And, the transition changed the spatial layouts in Japanese cities. The Meiji Restoration witnessed the discontinuation of the Federal Lord's prerogative and freedom with regard to the choice of residence, and they had leaded an exclusion of conventional boundaries. This paper aims to analyze the process how the castle cities had been reformed by means of Space Syntax. For the purpose, we investigated the process of urban modernization in several cities; Kyoto, Hikone, Fukui, and Otsu, which were founded as Jyokamachi. Firstly, we analyzed the forms in pre-modern era from historical map. And, we compared the zoning and the spatial configuration. Then, we examined the modernization process on the cities. By studying the JYOKAMACHI and the process of modernization, we could understand the starting point and the growth in the cities from past to today. From the comparison between the spatial configuration and historical document, we found the difference among the cities. In the cases of HIKONE and FUKUI, in pre-modern, it had a tendency, which they had low permeability and, the KYOTO and Otsu had higher permeability. The reason could be presumed that former cities were based on 'Defensive castle town' and the latter were 'Commercial castle town'. Then, in the modernization process, the former two cities had difficulty to be reborn in modern cities, but the other two were smoothly transformed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Event7th International Space Syntax Symposium - Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 8 Jun 200911 Jun 2009


Conference7th International Space Syntax Symposium
Internet address


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