Kami No Tsuri Gateway
Location: Miyajimaguchi, JPN
Project Team: Julia Watson
Client: City of Hatsukaichi
Julia was the lead designer for the new Miyajimaghuchi Gateway.
Within the municipal area of Hatsukaichi lies Itsukushima, the island location of the World Heritage site, Miyajima Shrine. This attraction in southwest Hiroshima Prefecture, is visited by an increasing number of domestic and international tourists each year. In fact, the number of visitors to Miyajima Shrine in 2012 reached four million. Most visitors pass through Miyajimaguchi on their way to the ferry terminal to cross the water to Itsukushima Island.
Meanwhile, the Miyajimaguchi area faces serious traffic congestion and numerous other challenges which render it less than ideal as a gateway to one of Japan’s most scenic views. The city's objective is to improve infrastructure and make the area more accessible and desirable to international and domestic visitors.
Meaning the Path of God, the Kami No Tsuro Urban Design Strategy extends the spiritual journey from Itsukushima Island along a new processional spine. This promenade transforms the experience of arrival into a sacred pathway that reflects views to the island and the sky. At the end of the path, the new transportation hub transposes the urban strategy between two grids. The first is the traditional Miyajimaguchi city grid that aligns the JR Station and Ferry Pier. The second and newly introduced grid is created by the relocation of the Hiroden Miyagimaguchi Station and aligns diagonally in the direction of views towards the Itsukushima Shrine, which can be seen from various elevations along the foreshore across Onoseto Strait.
The entire port experience becomes a sweeping grand and atmospheric gesture that transforms the discontinuity of the existing experience into a spiritual threshold. The design uses the topographical change of the new reclamation project as a catalyst to create contemplative spaces and to frame spiritually significant views. The Kami No Tsuro Urban Design Strategy provides a gateway to the past, amplifying the historical context and adding to the interpretation and preservation of a place of outstanding universal value.