Japan today protects one-seventh of its land surface in parks, which are visited by well over a billion people each year. This book analyzes the origins, development and distinctive features of these public spaces. The author shows how revolutionary officials in the 1870s seized private properties and converted them into public parks for educating and managing citizens in the new emperor-sanctioned state.
Rebuilding Tokyo and Yokohama after the earthquake and fires of 1923 spurred the spread of urban parklands both in the capital and other cities. The growth of suburbs, the national mobilization of World War II and the post-1945 American occupation helped speed the creation of more urban parks, setting the stage for vast increases in public green spaces during Japan's golden age of affluence from the 1960s through the 1980s. Since the 1990s the Japanese public has embraced a heightened ecological consciousness and become deeply involved in the design and management of both city and natural parks-realms once monopolized by government bureaucrats.