A Study of Gunkanjima Island as a Site of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution ― Re-evaluation from the Perspective of Architectural History focusing on Features of the Metabolism Movement in Buildings 16-20 ―
29 , 2016
Gunkanjima Island was recognized as a Word Cultural Heritage Site in July 2015, along with other sites of Japan's Meiji industrial revolution. This recognition was limited to some portions of the island (harbor cities and initial production facilities). However, in my opinion, the value and attraction of Gunkanjima Island is not limited to these sections of the island only. This paper presents an architetural perspective for buildings from the Taisho Era onward, particularly buildings 16-20, which are recognized as presaging the architectural "metabolism movement" (1959-1960s). Therefore, it is apperent that Gunkanjima not only has an industrial historical value from the Meiji Era, but it also has a universal value from the greater perapective of architectural history. Section 1 of this study chronicles the histoty of Gunkanjima Island as it is divided into seven periods, with an overview of each period. Section 2 confirms the definitions of modernization period monuments, industrial heritage, and heritage of industrial modernization followed by an update of the current state of the heritage of industrial modernization in Japan, as well as the position of Gunkanjima within the heritage of industrial modernization. In Section 3, site plans are used to understand, analyze, and indicate the distribution and characteristics of various structures on the island. By presenting a number of commonalities between the Gunkanjima Island structures (particularly buildings 16-20, which were mining company housing) and the municipal Motomachi high-rise apartments, which were influenced by the metabolism movement, I clarify how the structures on the small island known as Hashima (and more commonly known as Gunkanjima), presage the metabolism movement a half-century prior to the actual birth of the movement’s principles, and observe how Gunkanjima has a universal architectural historical value beyond the Meiji-era industrial history,thus explaining the need for its re-evaluation.