The Neutral City – Neutrality of Infrastructure
Modernization in Hiroshima in pre-war and post-war periods are both centered on infrastructural development. However, the motives behind the two periods should be differentiated. In this article, I would argue that the post-war modernization with respect to infrastructure is due to its inherent neutrality, and such development even become an aesthetic regime in the post-war Hiroshima.
Immediately after the bombing of Hiroshima on 8:15 am on 6th August, 1945, restoration of major infrastructure, like roads, bridges, railways, electrical and water services began. The importance of infrastructure could be manifested in modern cities. These infrastructure has played an extremely crucial role in post-war relief works, medical and sanitary activities. Major infrastructural recovery timetable could be summarized as follow (Ito, 2015):
|6 August (am)||Clearance of arterial roads by army and civil guards|
|6 August (pm)||Recovery of train from Hiroshima to Saijo|
|7 August||Recovery of Ujina line between Hiroshima and Ujina|
|Danbara Transformer Substation was repaired to serve Ujina, next to military establishment and Hiroshima station|
|8 August||Recovery of the trunk line Sanyo line between Osaka and Fukuoka|
|9 August||Recovery of Geibi Line, between Hiroshima and its northeastern suburbs|
|Recovery of street cars of 1.5 km away from Hiroshima city center|
|18 August||Recovery of Kabe lin, between Hiroshima and its northwestern suburbs|
The Hiroshima Peace City Reconstruction Plan adopted in 1952 had two features that addressed the importance of infrastructure: (1) 100-meter wide east-west running boulevard, and (2) arterial road in grid pattern. As the post-war Japan suffered greatly from the legacy of the atomic bomb, a new symbol of rehabilitation was important to the Japanese and especially the Hiroshima citizens.
The 100-meter wide boulevard was once proposed to be constructed in 7 cities, namely Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe and Hiroshima, only Nagota and Hiroshima had turned out to realize the construction. Such construction, similar to Haussmannization in Paris, were embedded with various motives and had shown the attention shifted from individual heroic form of architecture to an urbanist perspective of the city.
Reconstruction of most Japanese cities including Hiroshima were base on (1) highly urgent emergency issues; and (2) “Basic Policy for the Construction of War-damaged Areas” adopted in December 1945. Facing financial difficulties and catastrophic destruction, “Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law” was enacted, which provided more national support to the city.
Much international and national attention were paid on reconstruction of Hiroshima. The plan was much based on the ideals at that time, i.e. late 1940s to 1950s. They had also widened the road from pre-war standard of around 22 meter to 36 to 40 meters; reserving more green space; and readjusting land to reserve space for infrastructure. We can infer that infrastructure was vital to cities at that time and infrastructure was recognized as a symbol of modernity and recovery. The 100-meter wide boulevard was planned as a major artery road of Hiroshima, thus its width would be beyond human scale.
The 100-meter boulevard is undoubtedly an important infrastructure that provides a solid foundation of modernization of Hiroshima. It connects the urban fabric of Hiroshima by brings about efficient transportation. More importantly, it becomes a new symbol of peace and modernization. The renowned cenotaph designed by Kenzo Tange might be significant as a architectural or aesthetic symbol, but in an urban scale, the urban fabric is much shaped by the 100-meter boulevard. It affects how the city is divided and connected, “the image of the city” as suggested by Kevin Lynch, and also people’s activities and behavioral patterns.
Ito, T. (2015). Reconstruction of Hiroshima Industry 1945-1960. 地域経済研究: 広島大学大学院社会科学研究科附属地域経済システム研究センター紀要, (26), 3-15.
石丸紀興. (2014). 広島は平和都市・平和記念都市として復興・展開してきたか. 日本都市社会学会年報, 2014(32), 25-44.
広島都市生活研究会. (1985). 都市の復興 : 広島被爆 40年史 [Reconstruction of Hiroshima : Pictorial history of forty years since atomic bombing]. 広島市: 広島市.