Saturday, 31 October 2015

A new mindset for planning


Before coming on the study tour my pre-tour thoughts were that Japan was just a small stop on the way to the United States. However after visiting, I can see that Japan has provided a completely different mind set on planning. To have such a large population and a small surface area, it has had to be innovative in its planning whilst still be being respectful to the past. 

I was impressed with the variety of mixed land use present, one example outside of Osaka was in under an acre there was a golf driving range, high density apartment blocks and two separate parcels of agricultural land. Planning does not appear to be as strict as there are so many different land uses packed together. 

My second impression of Japan was that there is no peri urban area, instead in Osaka and Tokyo especially the urban area just suddenly gave way to agriculture. 

I think the event that sums up Japans and its culture was the gargantuan effort to clean up the ocean around Sendai. Four years on and the area has been cleaned up and is rebuilding with tsunami and earthquake mitigation firmly in mind, whereas looking at hurricane Katrina in New Orleans there are areas yet to be cleaned up. 

The biggest critique I had for Japan was that the farmland remaining in the urban areas looks to have been built around, and whilst it is good to see rural and urban intermix there does not appear to be as stringent planning controls as in Australia. My second critique was that many parts of the main cities we travelled through, particularly the older sections, were only around five stories high. In the future if Japan is to continue its population growth then there will need to be a higher emphasis on building higher than most apartments are currently.

Jack Francis