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The Japanese Boulevard

Boulevards play an important role in the transportation networks of Japanese cities, but how do they function as public spaces? Shaped by diverse forms of organization, occupation, and use, boulevards are both paths and destinations—places where urban life unfolds.
Japan Story Team
Boulevard Typology Three distinct types emerged from the analysis of these boulevards: the promenade, the park, and the station axis. Promenades are defined by the interface between the sidewalk and the storefront. Park boulevards contain central green spaces divorced from nearby buildings. A station axis orients travelers to central rail hubs. These categories help us understand the role of boulevards as public spaces, and not merely routes through the city.
Map of Japan The drawings below analyze significant examples from each of these six cities, illustrating the diversity of Japanese boulevards across space and time.
Comparison Organizing the streets by width reveals not only the heterogeneous scale of these boulevards, but also the differing proportions of space occupied by paving, green space, and automobile traffic.
Midosuji boulevard, Osaka The city of Osaka intends to fully pedestrianize Midosuji boulevard by 2037, the centennial of its widening. The two-and-a-half-kilometer stretch of road will form a pedestrian greenway running through Osaka’s densest districts.
Champs-Élysées, Paris Across the world from Osaka, the city of Paris has announced that nearly two kilometers of the Champs-Élysées, the city’s most famous boulevard, will be renovated with additional pedestrian amenities by 2030. Unlike Osaka’s plan for Midosuji boulevard, some automobile traffic lanes will remain.