Hiroshima/1932-1951/The Contrast of Pre-war and Post-war Greenery Development

The reconstruction of Hiroshima has involved a large portion of replantation of greens as reflected in the restrictions and guidelines made by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law, and the related Greenery Movements. To study the rebuilding of the city, it would be useful to look at the different situations of the Urban Forests in the timeframe of pre-war and post-war respectively. This passage aims at studying this aspect to consolidate a more comprehensive picture for the overall reconstruction of Hiroshima City.

To start with, the pre-war city planning shall be discussed. Before World War II, the general city planning in Japan was all managed by the governmental planning departments which hired professionals in planning, architecture, landscape and civil engineering. As a background, a comprehensive plan has already been adopted for Tokyo in 1884; but not until 1925, the construction plan for Hiroshima was not adopted.1 Before 1932, there were only few urban parks or greens expansion, only when it came to host an economic promotion exposition, the situation changed and a more comprehensive park planning strategy was seen.1 Site improvements have been made as there were different forms of assistance given by the Japanese central government. In 1937, the city first started the planting of street trees, on a newly built road leading to the Ujina Harbour.1 In 1941, the first plan for urban parks in Hiroshima was written, which included 35 small parks and 4 green zones which spread for an area of 13.33 ha and 62.02 ha respectively.1 2 The park constructions were halted as soon as the war was declared; in fact, none of the projects were successfully completed before the massive destruction caused by the atomic bomb in 1945.

After the World War II, the reconstruction of the urban forest in Hiroshima was quite different from the ordinary ways. Instead, due to the large devastated land, the huge loss of lives and the special way of destruction caused by an atomic bomb, it caused the city government to initiate a comprehensive strategy to rebuild the urban greens. Other than the approaches covered by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law as mentioned in another blog, it is also interesting to mention how the plans were being executed. In fact, the mayors were the important leaders of Hiroshima reconstruction, whose perseverance in carrying out the plans and hoped for the succeed helped to make a great step. At that time, the reconstruction strategy was not fully supported by the people, and the government did spend quite a sum of money in exchanging lands with landlords occupying the area designated for redevelopment. The reclaimed land was used for building of parks and the Peace Boulevard. Several Mayors of that period started a ‘tree donation campaign’ which brought greens from all over Japan to Hiroshima for the parks construction.1 2 The involvement of citizens in all of these gathered support and thousands of people participated in the planting. Although many trees were not able to survive due to various reasons, all these efforts in the post-war greenery regeneration was rather effective after the record after years and years.

Contrasting the pre-war and post-war approaches on greenery, we see Hiroshima expanded the original urban greenery plan and eventually turned itself into a green city. The strength of public participation and the people’s determination in making Hiroshima a peace city has been demonstrated in the post-war restoration work of the urban forests. We see an uncommon case of large scale government-planned greens construction which may reveal the special spiritual significance of greens in a city that has experienced huge war destructions, from the government’s policies and the people’s perception towards greens.

  1. Tidball, Keith G., and Marianne E. Krasny. Greening in the red zone: disaster, resilience and community greening. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014.
  2. Nakagoshi Nobukazu, and Moriguchi Toshihiro. “Ecosystem and Biodiversity Conservation Planning in Hiroshima City, Japan.” Journal of Environmental Sciences11, no. 2 (1999): 149-54.

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