The Literature AwardAwards and Grants


No.43 In 2021

Title:Railroads and Suburbs: Suburban Regeneration from Stations and along Railway Lines

Recipient:Yukihiro Kadono (Author, Editor), Takashi Aoki (Author), Eriko Oka (Author), Koji Itami (Author), Yuko Mizuno (Author), Shinichi Matsune (Author), Seizo Sakata(Author)

Reason for award:

This book discusses the role of railroads and railroad companies in the development of suburban spaces by railroad companies in the Kansai region from the perspectives of urban planning, architecture, geography, and history, and is a part of a multi-year research effort by key members of a study group established in the Kansai Branch of the Association of Urban Housing Sciences. In addition to the role of suburbs with declining populations, the book also refers to policy proposals in the post-covid 19 and is judged to be a timely publication.
In the Tokyo metropolitan area, daimyo residences were developed as residential areas, and when the railroad was laid, suburban development proceeded using these residences. On the other hand, the suburbs in the Kansai area were developed by the railroad companies and the real estate companies, which promoted the migration of the middle class to the suburbs. The railroad companies developed various businesses to enrich suburban life, which increased the convenience of the suburbs and created a cycle of further suburban expansion. However, as the suburbs have become perforated like a sponge due to the decline in population, the COVID-19 infection has spread, and the movement patterns of people have changed. The question of what the suburbs should be like in the future is one of the themes of this book.
This book consists of six chapters, which can be roughly divided into three parts: Chapters 1 to 3 analyze the intention of the study, the movement of people and the characteristics of housing, while Chapters 4 and 5 focus on changes in the surrounding environment, including changes in the business of railway stations and railway companies, and the legal system. Chapter 6 summarizes suggestions for the revitalization of the suburbs and concludes with an addendum that compares the characteristics of the major private railways of East and West Japan.
First, based on the population distribution and demographics of the three major metropolitan areas, the characteristics of the Kansai region, which is the subject of the analysis, and the image of suburbs from their formation to their maturity are drawn. However, with the collapse of the bubble economy in the 1990s, suburbs characterized by homogeneity began to diversify. The way people use stations also changed, and a hierarchy emerged in which the nearest station and the most frequently used station were different even among suburban stations. The authors describe them as metropolitan centers, lifestyle centers, and intersections of people and information.
The kind of stations that railroad companies are expected to create are those that serve as destinations for people's daily activities, stations where people raising children want to go, stations that serve as third places to work, and stations with libraries at their core. The authors call for railroad operators to play several community-based roles in order to create such stations, which the authors describe as strengthening "the potential of railway environment.” The potential of the areas along the railway lines has an attractiveness consisting of "urban and recreational functions, the natural environment, and lifestyle support services, in addition to the convenience of transportation." The potential of the areas along the railway is gained not just by increasing the value of the area along the line, but by promoting the revitalization and development of unique and challenging locations that do not let revenue go outside the area along the line or outside the region. In order to achieve this goal, the authors call for railroad companies that invest their management resources in city center terminals to implement "railway line management" by investing management resources in railway lines and base stations that serve as their nodes in conjunction with public policy.
The management strategies of railroad companies differ, and some companies already have revenues from non-railroad businesses that exceed those from railroad businesses. However, the suggestion for management of railway environment is applicable to all of them without exception, and the content of this literature, which indicates the future direction of railroad operators as private enterprises, is expected to contribute greatly to the realization of an ideal transportation society. For these reasons, I would like to nominate these authors as candidates for the Literature Award.