Hiroshima/1946-1955/Criticisms on the Submitted Reconstruction Plans

In fact, except the Tange’s plans, there were more different suggestions in the submission. However, only a few of them were eventually realized.

The reconstruction debates among citizens were very important, the planners should be very aware of it when they design. Lt Montgoery, an expert on town planning who was invited by the Hiroshima Reconstruction Committee as guest, proposed to transform Hiroshima into the opposite extreme of its history (Hiroshima has been the military center of Japan in the Imperial Period), “Hiroshima used to boast of itself as a military city but now it is destroyed, we want people from abroad come to Hiroshima and see the change. Now, as militarism is stamped out, Hiroshima has a chance to move towards peace.” He told the committee (1). His proposal was banned because his explanation was being read as historical irony. As well as Ishikawa Hideaki’s plan mentioned in the previous entry, was also abandoned due to thoughtlessness of the original identity of Hiroshima; the Hondori merchant association, formed by the merchants who were originally shop owners in the Hiroshima shopping street, proposed to build a zoo on the hypocenter area instead of memorial, and the idea was banned because of short-sightedness (2).

 

Watanabe Shigeru’s Influential Plan

The Watanabe Shigeru’s plan was another plan which had similar approach as Tange’s plan. His plan focused on creating a modern city of tourism and commerce (3), with the “monument for world peace” at the center of the city. Unlike the Tange’s plan which preserves the surviving building after bomb attack, “Genbaku Dome”, for memorial, the monument in Watanabe’s plan was criticized that it was too narrative as a commemoration symbol (3). Although this plan was not used, people believed that it influenced the adopted plan by Kenzo Tange a lot because they shared the same thought of “city with peace memorial in the center”.

 

The Winning Kenzo Tange’s Plan

In general, the Kenzo Tange’s plan was considered as a successful one, it created a peaceful modern city image for Hiroshima, and the forward-looking memorial were able to tell the story of resurrection and promise (4). However, it was still being criticized that it showed a strange view of history and commemoration of Hiroshima and some citizens doubted the appropriateness of internationality and modernity. (In terms of architectural styles, prewar constructions were mostly traditional wooden structures commonly used after the Meiji Restoration; while buildings in Tange’s plan were all modernist-styled concrete design.) Furthermore, for the preserved Hundred-meter Street, named by Peace Boulevard in Tange’s project, there was also criticism from people questioning the need of the width of the street, but the criticism declined during the period of second greenery movement in 1977, trees were planted in belt-like shape and the landscape was rearranged, the boulevard eventually became a significant landmark of Hiroshima (5).

Aerial view of the Hundred-meter Street
Aerial view of the Hundred-meter Street (6)

  1. City of Hiroshima, Contemporary History of Hiroshima, (Hiroshima Shinshi), (City of Hiroshima, 1981), P.49.
  2. City of Hiroshima, Contemporary History of Hiroshima, (Hiroshima Shinshi), (City of Hiroshima, 1981), P.56.
  3. Ishimaru Norioki, The Reconstruction Hypothesis of Hiroshima (Hiroshima no fukko katei), (City of Hiroshima, 1984), P. 15.
  4. Zwigenberg, Ran. Hiroshima: the origins of global memory culture, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. p.52.
  5. Hein, Carola, Jeffry M. Diefendorf, and Yorifusa Ishida. Rebuilding urban Japan after 1945. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. P.97.
  6. Ishimaru Norioki, Pictorial History of Forty Years Since the Atomic Bombing – Reconstruction of Hiroshima, (City of Hiroshima, 1985).

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