Kakamigahara City has developed a series of attractive green spaces, showing the benefits of meaningful community involvement. Designed by Professor Mikiko Ishikawa.
Kakamigahara City (population of about 150,000 people) is on the fringe of Nagoya, a formerly rural area in which many small villages are scattered in the rich natural environment. During Japan’s high growth period in the 1960s and 1970s, those villages were swept away by rapid urbanisation. Now in a period of population decline, this city - as well as many other Japanese cities and towns - has been confronting urban issues such as retail decentralisation and a heavily motorised lifestyle.
Manabi-no-Mori, meaning ‘Learning Forest background,’ was named following a public competition. The word ‘learning’ relates to the area’s educational background where various kinds of schools are located; the site used to be the grounds of a national agricultural college until it closed in 1985. Since then, the site has been unused and fenced off. As a result of developing a new park, it has been revived as an important public space for the people.
The park is intended to function not only as the central park, but also as a core of the green space network, The Kakamigahara Green Corridor Plan, which sets out three corridors and seven core sites. The corridor plan and the actual design of the park was developed through discussions between local residents and landscape professionals from Tokyo.
As well as the high quality of the landscape planning and design, the strong community involvement in the daily maintenance of the park is outstanding. The local authority introduced a Park Ranger Program, a volunteer support program inviting local residents who want to participate in planting and daily maintenance to register as rangers. By doing so, they can be assigned beneficial work with materials provided by the city. This participation cultivates the citizens’ awareness of the value of green spaces, which creates a growing tendency to realise the green assets the city has.