Kyoto/ The use of Gridiron

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The plan of Chang’an

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The plan (shown on the right hand side) of Hei’an-kyo or Kyoto in 794 under the rule of Emperor Kammu.

“Plans of Chang’an, Heijo-kyo (Nara), and Heian-kyo (Kyoto) © 2003, A Guide to The Gardens of Kyoto”

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The diagrammatic plan shows today’s streets in Kyoto’s Tanoji area.

“Town planning zones in Tanoji area © 2012, Tradition, Democracy and the Townscape of Kyoto”


By comparing the plans of Chang’an and Kyoto in the above, we can clearly see the influence of Chang’an’s urban planning on Kyoto. The use of gridiron was intend to strengthen the political power of the capital city. This gridiron helps to organize the streets, which forms a clear-directed network. As you can see from the plan of Hei’an-kyo back in 794, when Emperor Kammu just moved the capital from Heijo-kyo to Hei’an-kyom, there was a broad central avenue dividing the city into two parts: eastern and western districts, while the imperial palace sat in the center. A sense of power, importance and hierarchy was clearly shown as well. Though nowadays Kyoto is no longer the capital city of Japan, its urban fabric still remains and thus makes the spatial experience unique. After years the urban fabric is still remained in this grid-like fashion, it also shows that the local culture is preserved along with the space.


This is an old Kyoto road song that helps people, especially children, to memorize the street names.

For people who have never been to Kyoto, the song gives them a basic idea on the plan of Kyoto.


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