Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog 6: Japan

Summarise the various influences on Japanese architecture and urban design, and in general terms how Japan manages urban land use.


  1. Historically, Japanese culture and city forms were strongly influenced by its closeness to China, and its desire to become as developed in planning and construction as the Western world. Land use zoning in Japan was an influence of the West, and have continued through law enforcement by local governments. Additionally, Japan is located in a geographically disastrous prone area, with many volcanic activities, earthquakes and tsunamis. Therefore, it is essential to adapt their architecture and urban fabric in a way that can minimise damage whilst still accommodating highly dense cities. This includes mechanisms like fireproof infrastructures, and using materials in buildings that can bend with earthquakes.

    Angela Yang

  2. The desire to be 'the best' has driven the Japanese to emulate foreign urban planning techniques for much of the last two thousand years.

    Early contact with China during the Tang Dynasty had dramatic influences on culture, agriculture, religion and the urban form of Japan. Adoption of 'western' style planning legislation in early 20th century incorporated land use zoning with central government control over planning decisions. Rapid urbanisation between 1888 and 1918 in Japanese cities lead to dense cities and environmental degradation. This brought large scale fires and the spread of disease. Japans geographic location is prone to volcanic activity, tsunami and earthquakes. These factors shaped how land use was planned and the urban environment was designed.

    Junzhe Wan (2013) Department of Urban Planning, School of Architecture Tsinghua University. Lecture Slides.

    Andrew Miller

  3. Japan is located just over 800km away from China and has been influenced by China since approximately 220BC. Japan has been influenced by both the architecture of China, such as temple building, as well as through planning of their capital cities, many imitating the Tang Dynasty. Through their aspiration to become a world class country, Japan has also been influence by western urban planning systems and concepts, such as zoning, European and American construction techniques, TOD’s and the garden city movement. In general Japan currently managers urban land use through planning legislation, zoning, and by empowering local government to be in charge of local decision making.

    Wan, J., 2013. Lecture 6: Urban planning system and cities of Japan. Planning 332. University of Auckland – National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, Auckland, New Zealand, unpublished

    Ruzicka-Rossier, M., Ferrari, B., 2009. Urban Planning Culture of Japan.[ Online]. Available at [Accessed 31/08/2013]

    Victoria Bell
    ID: 1798704

  4. The influence of Japanese culture, language and urbanism has been ensured by the close proximity and relationship with China; this assured its practice in urban planning and aim to become a ‘leading country’. Since 220BC, the Tang Dynasty and Chinese scientist, Ganjin had influenced much of Japan’s communication with China, providing an important source of planning knowledge and skills. This had led onto the imitation of similar designs in temple architecture, spatial design and urban morphology. The rugged and hazardous prone landscape of Japan coupled with the rapid urbanisation, which had occurred from the late 1800’s, had prompted the adoption of land-use zoning controls and local government empowerment through various ‘westernised-styled' planning legislation.


    Wan, J. (2013). PLANNING 332 Comparative Planning (Elective Special Topic) – Lecture 06: Urban planning system and cities of Japan. Unpublished lecture notes, School of Architecture and Planning - National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries - University of Auckland, Auckland - New Zealand.

    Andrew Poon
    (ID: 5691154)

  5. Around 220 BC Japan started to communicated with China and from that time Japan had been influent from China in various aspects including architecture and urban design. Influences from China to Japan happen through sending embassies of Japan to China to study their culture, architecture and other aspects. Ganjin is a Chinese Buddhist and medical scientist who travelled to Japan with embassies and had contributed a lot in architectural design in Japan. After the ancient era Japan had influenced from the western world with its desire to become one of the developed and civilized countries in the world. Japan wanted to imitate the western urban planning system and concept. Additionally, geographical location of the country is in the disastrous prone area with many volcanoes, earthquakes, eruption and tsunami. Their architectural design and materials therefore had to minimize damages from those natural disasters, as well as accommodating high density of populations.

    Thidarat Samart

  6. Traditionally, the earlier form of Japanese architecture and urban design closely has been connected to the idea of ancient China since Tang dynasty around 220BC. Spatial and space structure, building type of Japan comes from ancient Chinese culture, agriculture, Buddhism and everything else. In additional, earthquakes, tsunami and other geographic situations are also relevant of Japan’s urban architecture structure ,therefore they use high technology materials in order to minimize damages. Japanese investigate the western countries planning tools, those were various influence on Japanese modern urban rebuilding, such as detail zoning, neighborhoods modeled, land readjustment developed , garden city. In Japan, urban planning is strictly regulated by law. ‘Urban Planning Act 1968’ organizing a range of interests in the urban development process which has been the most important technique to the present day.

    Junzhe Wan (2013) Department of Urban Planning, School of Architecture Tsinghua University. Lecture 26.8.2013

    Fei Hua

  7. Japanese architecture and urban design has traditionally been influenced by that of China since 220BC and in 645AD the Taika Reforms were issued, which were intended to imitate the governing system of China's Tang Dynasty and strengthen the power of central government in Japan. Western urban planning systems and concepts have also had a significant impact on their Japanese counterparts because of Japan's strong desire to be recognised globally as a developed and civilised country. In terms of managing urban land use, the Japanese system has a strong legislative focus. The system also employs zoning techniques and places emphasis on empowering local decision-making. Furthermore, there is a strong focus on integrated development and transit oriented development.

    Wan, J. (2013). Urban planning system and cities of Japan. Unpublished lecture notes, National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries - University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

    Michaela Davidson (2366284)

  8. Japanese architecture and urban design started off with major influences from its more civilised neighbouring country: China, from the 220BC in the Tang Dynasty. Japan imitated those ideas of China in many aspects including planning capital cities and strengthening power of central government, nevertheless in aspects of culture, language, fashion and Buddhism. In order to satisfy its desire to become a recognised world class country, it developed many western ideas later on to enable more advanced planning systems, which included the transit orientated development and the garden cities of Ebenezer Howard, as well as advancing architecture and design techniques to address the recurring natural disasters due to it being a more geographically prone area, particularly to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activities. Therefore, Japan have established the Urban Planning Act 1968 and the New Building Standard Law 1970 as its main manuals to manage its land use in order to tackle these problems, amongst the tension of urbanisation in limited areas of land with great population.

    Wan, J., 2013. Lecture 6: Urban planning system and cities of Japan. Planning 332. University of Auckland – National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, Auckland, New Zealand, unpublished.

    Miao Miao Zhen
    ID: 5690514

  9. Since approximately 220BC Japan has taken inspiration from Chinese architecture and urban design.
    Japan continued to be influenced by China, and in 645AD, Mikado Takanori issued the Taika Reforms which held the purpose of translating the governance system of the Chinese Tang Dynasty into Japan’s political system.
    This desire to become a stronger, world leading country continued into modern times as Japan replicated the western urban planning system.
    Japan’s urban land use is highly regulated by specific laws, the most important being the Urban Planning Act 1919, this was introduced in response to the adverse effects of urbanisation and included: ‘chiiki chiku’ a zoning like system to manage urban land use, decentralised decision making, and increased public participation.

    Wan, Junzhe. "Urban Planning System and Cities of Japan". Lecture 6, Planning 332, the University of Auckland, August 26, 2013.

    Sophie Waldron

  10. Ancient Chinese architecture and Buddhist philosophies had a major influence of Japanese architecture and urban design from 220BC. From approximately 1968 Japanese architecture and urban design became highly influenced by America and Europe.
    The American and European influence also extended to the management of urban land use like industrialisation. In 1919 zoning (Chiki Chiku) and Primary land development system were introduced in the Urban Planning Act, and the approach of using volume rate to control Land Development Intensity was introduced in the 1968 amendment of the Act. Japan has also adapted European concepts like Garden City (Kantō regional plan) and TOD (Tokyo). Today urban planning is strictly regulated in Japan.

    Manasi Vaidya

  11. The external influence on Japanese architecture and urban design include its close proximity to China, which resulted in Buddhism becoming the state religion, and a later desire to emulate European countries. The internal influences include the countries challenging geography with volcanoes, tsunami’s and earthquakes as well as rapid urbanisation which contributed to widespread urban fires, environmental degradation and infectious diseases.

    Under the Urban Planning Act 1968 Japan manages land use through decentralised decision making with local government, the requirement for public participation in the planning process and zoning to control development intensity.

    Chris Groom (2988294)

  12. The architecture and the urban design approach taken by Japan consist of influences from both eastern and western perspectives. Since approximately 220BC, China has influenced Japan design along with language and clothes. The Chinese is demonstrated in the architectural style of the temples.

    Western influence was initiated by the Meiji restoration after a long period of isolation in Japan. This brought many western ideals and products to Japan. One of which was the train, important in the implementation of the TOD or garden city.

    In general terms, Japan manages it urban land use by though western style legislation and building design as Japan is subject to natural disaster because of location.

    Alvin Jung

  13. Early Japanese urban planning and architectural were mostly influence by china as a result of the two countries’ close geographical location and communication which started around 220BC. Temples and cities built by Japanese in ancient times demonstrates the heavily influence of past Chinese dynasties.
    From 1868 under the rule of Emperor Meiji. The Japanese government studied and implemented western planning principles onto their urban principles. In Kanto’s ‘s reconstruction the concept of city garden was used, and Tokyo were designed according to the principle of TOD.
    The 1968 Urban Planning Act and New Building Standard law were amended by Japanese Government gave planning power to local government and allow public participation in decision process. The 1968 act introduced chikki chiku zoning system to manage land use by using volume rate to control land development density

    William Xu

  14. Japanese architecture is influenced by climate, china, and Buddhism. Climate is an influence due to Japan's long summers that consists of plenty of rain. Typical Japanese homes will be designed to accommodate climate.It will be constructed of thin walls to move air all around and overlapping, slanted and moderately curved roofs. China plays a part in Japanese architecture by adopting Chinese culture and buildings dating back hundreds of year, buildings include traditional temples.

    Similar to the west Urban planning is regulated by law. A commonly used act is the Urban Planning Act 1968.

    Wan, J. (2013). Lecture 6: Urban Planning systems and cities of Japan. Planning 323 Comparative Planning, School of Planning. Auckland University.

    Zak Nasir

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