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06.10Kobe-Maruyama 2
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Image by sleepytako
A sign exposes the invisible line between Kobe’s Nagata-ku and Suma-ku.

Larger cities in Japan are divided into wards or ku (区) in Japanese. Kobe has 8 that I can think of off the top of my head. Wards play an important part of the division of the city. In Kobe it might drastically effect your taxes–I’ve heard Chuo-ku taxes are brutal. In a broad city wide view each ward is unique, but, when you get down to the street level not much changes between one ward to another. Here, the ward boundry cuts through a hospital. The city has found it important enough to post signs showing the boundary even. Is it really that important? What boundries matter more than others. Here in the area I’m calling Maruyama* for lack of a better term, Single family houses cling to the hillsides in what seems to be an aged middle class suburb. The hills and small streets combined with few public transportation options, in comparison to the rest of Kobe, makes this area quite interesting. It’s a transitional area between the higher, more mountainous areas of the city (Kita-ward) and the seafront. My question: when was it first developed? Judging by the houses and the extreme topography, I guess it was sometime in the last 50 years. Perhaps this area was developed in order to provide space for single family houses which would have access to Kobe and Osaka’s office buildings without being to far in the post war years while still being in the city’s boundaries.

The other question, raised above, is what is the motivation by the city government in marking boundaries like this on the landscape. Does it aid in navigation? Is it merely for city maintenance workers? Is it for the benefit of strange geo-fetishists like myself? For the postal workers? I’m glad someone in the city took the time to mark this line, but why?

*I’ve called this area Maruyama mostly because of the nearest station’s name (神戸電鉄丸山駅). I’ve seen Hanayama used for this area also, but I’ve yet to find a good name for this part of Kobe.

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