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[ISHES Newsletter #13]Standards of Beauty-Manazuru's Town Development

2019/08/23 18:18:15


ISHES Newsletter #13
August 23, 2019

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Copyright (c) 2019

Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, Japan

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to announce that the ISHES newsletter is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month. We appreciate the kind support from all of our readers.

In this August 2019 issue, you will find the following articles:

- Standards of Beauty-Manazuru's Town Development

Manazuru is called the "Town of Beauty." What makes it beautiful is its nostalgic port town lifestyle landscape that has been passed down from long ago. This month we tell you about the Standards of Beauty, around which Manazuru is striving to protect this beauty and connect it with value.

- A new article from the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom

This time we provide an article from a column by Yoshifumi Taguchi, entitled "Tao Management: Summary," which has been uploaded on the web.

- Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on sustainability issues in Japan

There is a movement spreading in Japan called "slow life." We present an article that will tell you about "slow life," which seeks leeway to relax and quality of life.


Standards of Beauty-Manazuru's Town Development

By Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES)

Manazuru is a small town with a population of just under 7,300, located in western Kanagawa Prefecture close to tourist destinations such as Yugawara and Atami. It takes about 90 minutes from Tokyo by train to reach Manazuru, the habitable flat area of which is the smallest in the prefecture due to the many slopes in its undulating landscape. It abounds in nature, with impressive thick greenery at the tip of the peninsula it occupies, a mountainous area covered with trees and a blue ocean.

Manazuru is known as the Town of Beauty. It does not have traditional buildings or stylish modern architecture, consisting of just an ordinary rustic fish village spreading across the town's landscape. Scenery from daily life in an old port town can be viewed here, passed on from former generations. That is the beauty of Manazuru. To preserve and treasure this beauty as part of the town's value, it created the "Standards of Beauty."

What is this Standards of Beauty? This month's newsletter introduces Manazuru's initiatives for building a beautiful town.

How the 'Standards of Beauty' were Created

From the late 1980s to the 1990s in Japan, many hotels and condominiums were built under urban policy promotion programs. Development was promoted in Atami and Yugawara, followed by Manazuru, where the peninsula was deforested. With a sense of crisis at the rampant development, the residents took action. They were afraid the town might be destroyed.

In June 1989, the Manazuru Town Assembly revised its guidelines on residential land development and passed a resolution to freeze the construction of vacation condominiums. Later, in July 1990, Mayor Kuniyuki Miki, was elected with a commitment to constrain development. Soon after that, Manazuru's land use guidelines and ordinances controlling the water supply for waterworks projects and the pumping-up of groundwater came into force. In addition to setting standards for purposes, scales, greening and wall setbacks of buildings, the town decided that water would not be supplied newly to large apartment buildings or accommodation facilities and that the installation of facilities to pump up groundwater would require permission from the town mayor.

All these measures, however, were not enough to prevent development. If the developers had sued the town, the town would have most likely lost. Mayor Miki went forward with the intention of paying the penalties personally if the town were sued and lost any cases.

Until then, the initiative had lacked an important perspective: a vision of what kind of town it wanted to be. The mayor launched a project to formulate a machizukuri (town development) ordinance in April 1991. The mayor, deputy mayor and town officials as well as other experts such as lawyers, architects and city planners continued official and unofficial discussions, finally settling on the Standards of Beauty to complete the draft ordinance.

Enacting the ordinance wasn't an easy process. Negotiating with the prefecture, briefing town residents and reaching a consensus may sound simple, but actually, it wasn't until June 1993 that the ordinance was passed in the assembly, after more than two years of painstaking consensus building from the project's launch.

The Standards of Beauty

The Standards of Beauty are described under Article 10 of the Machizukuri Ordinance.

Article 10 (Principles of Beauty)

The town respects the principles of beauty stated under the items below and defines standards in regulations to protect and foster natural, living, historical and cultural environments based on the machizukuri plan.

(1) Location
Locations must be considered when building structures to avoid dominating the landscape.

(2) Rating
The architecture should reproduce our memories of places and depict our town's character.

(3) Scale
The standard for all things is human. The architecture must have ratios harmonious with the size of human beings and be respectful of surrounding buildings.

(4) Harmony
The architecture must be in harmony with the blue ocean and resplendent green nature, and with the town overall.

(5) Materials
The architecture must be designed to make use of the town's resources.

(6) Decoration and art
Architecture needs decoration and we create unique decoration in our town. Art cultivates people's minds. Therefore, the architecture must be integrated with art.

(7) Community
Architecture exists to protect and nurture human communities. Therefore, people should participate in the architecture and it is the right and obligation of people to protect and nurture the community.

(8) View
Architecture exists in view of people. Therefore, all efforts must be made to nurture beautiful vistas.

The Standards of Beauty are specified by the regulations in the text as "based on design codes specified separately." For instance, the following is a description under "(7) Community," consisting of a total of 69 keywords for eight items.

Basic spirit: Architecture exists to protect and nurture human communities. Therefore, people should participate in the architecture and it is the right and obligation of people to protect and nurture the community.

Tips: conservation of community, shared living areas, living environment, lifelong learning

Keywords: mingling of households, presence of people, elderly people, showcasing of local businesses, kids' houses, outer corridors, small-talk spots, terraces with town views, windows facing streets, steps for sitting, everyday green, flowers to touch

Here are three example descriptions of keywords.

Mingling of households
When building a housing complex, the standards specify that the complex must include different types of households. Providing diverse layouts and sizes, allows young people as well as small and big families to live there, eventually providing the whole town with residents of diverse age groups.

Showcasing local businesses
The standards call for actively showcasing the work scenes of the community, providing learning opportunities in daily life. They could be the scene of someone drying fish or a fisherman weaving fishnet. For visitors from Tokyo, these landscapes can remind them that they are in a fishermen's town. Stonemasons can work in front of their stores, displaying the stones instead of securing them in back in their stores. Visitors can feel that they are in a town that works with stones. By actively showcasing local businesses, the uniqueness of the community is displayed. This is the viewpoint the standards take.

Small-talk spots
This standard encourages creation of spots for people to get together in a vacant space, sit on a bench and chat freely for hours without being disturbed by car or motorcycle traffic. In the town of Manazuru, elderly people have their own spots for small gatherings. Groups of four or five people get together around a bench that a butcher has set out, at a tea house, or someone's covered garage. The secret of making a spot like that is to have the back surrounded or to have something in the center where people can get together.

Managing the Standards of Beauty

As you may have noticed by now, there are no specific numerical values defined in the Standards of Beauty. How, then, is this abstract rule followed?

When the ordinance became effective, the Standards of Beauty was not fully implemented. Focusing too much on equality, it became one-way advice from the local government, without a way to flexibly enforce such an abstract rule. As dialogue-style consultations with architects explored optimal solutions, gradually a way to put the Standards of Beauty into practice became clear, and the standards became established as a method of applying qualitative criteria.

By having dialogue-type consultations, the architects seemed to enjoy exploring how to meet the standards and providing ideas. As a result, they once produced a promotional brochure that said, "the property meets the Standards of Beauty and Manazuru is called a Town of Beauty" which promoted the town itself. The Standards of Beauty helped improve the value of the town?the town's original intention?rather than restricting its possibilities.

The town of Manazuru faces serious issues of population decline and aging. In 2017, the town was designated a depopulated area based on special measures Japan has implemented to promote the independence of depopulated areas. It was the first case in the prefecture. To tackle these issues, the town has set four targets: creating jobs to enable people to work securely; creating a new flow of people; fulfilling requests by the younger generations regarding marriage, birth and child-care; and building an area suitable for modern life, protecting safe life and facilitating networking among communities.

An online museum, the Manazuru Peninsula Itonami Museum, has untaken an initiative to introduce people, places and lifestyles of Manazuru as masterpieces of art (or precious things). More and more people who find Manazuru interesting on this website actually visit the town. The landscape preserved under the Standards of Beauty enables artists to create works of art featuring the landscape. The scenery can also provide an ideal work environment and is attracting satellite offices.

The landscape preserved by the Standards of Beauty is value-added and encourages businesses to enliven the town. Manazuru aims to create a richer environment for its residents by preserving its landscape. We will keep an eye on this town's constant efforts to take on challenges.


New articles from the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom

In this section we introduce the latest articles posted on the website of the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom.

This link brings you to an article from a column by Yoshifumi Taguchi, entitled "Tao Management: Summary." What is the best way to live? We hope you enjoy reading it.

Tao Management: "Summary"


Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on sustainability issues in Japan

In this regular section of each issue of the ISHES Newsletter, we recommend past articles from Japan for Sustainability newsletters. The non-profit JFS was active from August 2002 until July 2018, sending out information to the world with the aim of moving society in Japan and the world toward being more sustainable and happy.

This time we present an article describing the "slow life" movement, which seeks leeway to relax and quality of life. In the 16 years since this article was presented to the world, the number of people in Japan deciding they would like to try "slow life" and relocating to rural areas has grown year by year. Even now the "slow life" movement continues to grow. What is this "slow life" that is spreading throughout Japan?



We hope you enjoyed reading our newsletter.
Thank you for your kind support.

Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society
*The Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES) is an organization based in Japan that is working to build a happy and sustainable society. To this end, we need to think about happiness, the economy and society together by learning from, analyzing, and thinking about theories and cases in Japan and around the world on what happiness is and what kind of economy and society will create and support happiness.

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