Designing Japan: The Ongoing Story of a Bypass Proposal Through a Historic Section of Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Ushiku is a commuter city northeast of Tokyo. National Highway Route 6 starts in Tokyo and passes through the centre of Ushiku en route to Sendai City in northeastern Japan. Owing to the heavy traffic through Ushiku along Route 6, a bypass has been started. This paper looks at the long history of the Route 6 bypass, including citizen consultation, government involvement, and the possible impacts on residents and the local rural and historic landscape. The paper examines these impacts in the context of the 2011 Ushiku master plan, which advocates the preservation and promotion of many of the landscapes that could be impacted. The research is based on interviews and a review of planning-related documents. The bypass has been progressing section by section with citizen input and a shrinking construction budget. A 1.3 km section that will cut through Jochu and Shimo wards in southern Ushiku may cause hardship on pedestrians and may impact the traditional farm and former castle landscape. The story of the bypass illustrates conflicting land-use planning objectives of the different levels of government, and long term incremental landscape change and adaptation in Japan’s post-growth era.