Kyoto (1960-1964) / Plan for Kyoto 1964: Influence of Home City

The previous blog post “Uzo Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964” mainly focuses on introducing Nishiyama’s master planning of the city, and the high-dense living style he envisioned for post-war Kyoto, and Nishiyama’s limitation in realization of his project has also been elaborated. Nevertheless, some parts of his plan were realized in the years later in Kyoto, though not under his surveillance and design. The following will be about the main idea of Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto, and its influence to the architectural field in Kyoto.

Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964 is strongly adhered to the planning concept he has developed in the postwar decades, namely “Home City”. Nishiyama had no interest in designing a separate, new city to decentralize Kyoto. Instead, he tried to consolidate the core of the city and incorporate the beauty of the historic city in its transformation to a modern city. The concept ‘Home City’, or ‘iepolis’, in introduced as a critique of American-style suburbanization centered on the automobile.

Nishiyama once explained his concept with a metaphor. He said that, “it is an old custom in Japan to take off shoes before entering a house… The indoor life without footwear has its own atmosphere. Likewise, a Japanese city should be considered as a ‘home’ or a ‘building’ which people enters, taking off their shoes, named motorcars. A promise must be made not to let motorcars enter a “home.”… In the “home,” there are to be built high-speed transportation facilities, which correspond to elevator and escalators.

In the view of Nishiyama, cars should be left out of the Home City; people should be able to walk or use mass transportation. Hence, iepolis would become a city for high-density living supported by public transit, pedestrian systems, and mechanized systems like elevator, escalators, and moving walkways. Such concept corresponded to the advocacy for a “Core of the City” voiced at the eighth CIAM Congress, which had called for a revitalization of traditional urban forms and highlighted the civic functions of a city. To certain extent, Nishiyama’s proposal resembled Kahn’s plan for Philadelphia in that both architects valued a traditional city center and tried to keep automobiles from disrupting it. Kahn’s plan was characterized by a series of gigantic cylindrical parking towers arranged along the periphery of the city to control incoming traffic.

Book published by the eighth CIAM, with the theme "the heart of the city"
Book published by the eighth CIAM, with the theme “the heart of the city”

The actual development of Kyoto has resemblance to Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964 indeed. In the 1960s, the new bullet train was developed to convey passengers from all over the country to Tokyo, with Kyoto being one of it. This has marked a milestone for the modernization of Japan, linking all the major cities in a speedy and convenient manner. Since then, Kyoto has keen development in its mass transport system, and subsequently called for a rebuilt for Kyoto Station eventually.


Hyogo Ashiya, A study on Uzo Nishiyama – Architecture as a Policy. (Osaka City University, 2013)

John Pendlebury, Erdem Erten, and Peter J. Larkham, Alternative Visions of Post-War Reconstruction: Creating the modern townscape. (New York: Routledge, 2014)

Yoshihiko Baba, ‘Modern or Unmodern?’ Understanding the landscape dispute of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station (2010)

Zhongjie Lin, Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan. (New York: Routledge, 2010)

1 Comment on “Kyoto (1960-1964) / Plan for Kyoto 1964: Influence of Home City

  1. The narratives reminds me of the lecture reading’ Constrantioos A. Doxiadis, Architecture in transition.
    ‘its ideal shape would seem to be an oblong, from half a mile to a mile in maximum length’

    City is the carrier of human, so the city must put human in the first place and consider the possible range of human activities. Otherwise the city will be lost forever in the sea of cars.

    Kyoto is a very good example to show. Kyoto blocks the high speed railways and highways cfrom the city zone. Connecting different residential zones with public transports, buses. and setting essential facilities within the comfort zone of human activities.

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