The crisis of a local city
Not only Takaoka City but other local cities in Japan have long been suffering from the issue as below.
It's difficult to solve. I'll mention it at my geographical point of view.
Two big news were announced these days.
One is that the last existing department store, "Takaoka Daiwa" will be closed this summer.
The other is that "Bun-en-do", which is the most famous and long-established book store in Takaoka, is also going to be closed this May. Many people as well as I am very surprised and shocked to hear these two news.
Both Takaoka Daiwa and Bun-en-do have been the symbols of the commercial city Takaoka for a long time. They're in the north side of Takaoka Station. The previous building of Takaoka Daiwa was built in 1943 and was dismantled in the first 1990s. And then, a new building with 8 floors and 1 underground one was constructed near the site of the old one.
Its nickname is "OTAYA SERIO", which was named after Otaya Street. Takaoka Daiwa moved in it as a tenant.
It has been dealing with many kinds of goods, like, foods, clothes, gifts, toys, pieces of jewelry, watches and so on.
Bun-en-do founded in front of Takaoka Station in 1955 has been loved by many people. It has been selling magazines, novels, reference books and various kinds of books on history, technology, science, foods, etc.
What made both of them decide to close their facility?
First,”Changing life styles through motorization”
In 1960's,what is called the period of highly economical growth in Japan, modern shopping malls didn't appear yet. And tools like mobile phone (smart mobile phone) and P.C we're now using as a matter of course didn't exist either. Furthermore,at that time,there were few entertainment facilities. What was the amusement for them? What enabled them to enjoy themselves? In their free time, they mainly enjoyed watching TV at home or went shopping to the department stores on holiday. In fact, some pictures showed lots of people visited them and enjoyed shopping. And then,most people went to their offices or schools by public transport like trains or buses. I think there was a chance to drop in at the department stores near the stations on their way home every day. There were far more people visiting Takaoka Daiwa than now. I remember visiting Takaoka Daiwa when child. My parents often took me there and had lunch. After eating it, we enjoyed shopping and took on entertainment playground equipment like a ferris wheel or coffee cup on the top of the roof. There were so many people that we had to wait so long to utilize it. in my memory, so many people,children,the old, and young were gathering there whenever we visited it .
Gradually the number of people having their own car has increased since the 1970's.The more people become to use their car to work, the less people become to use trains and buses. As a result, the opportunity for them to walk around the north side of the station has been decreasing. Moreover, motorization has changed
their purchasing behavior. They found that it was easier to carry heavy luggage by car than by public transports and they didn't have to mind the departure time of public transport as long as they used their car. There were few parking spaces since front areas of the stations had already been developed. Gathering of many cars in such a narrow place resulted in heavy traffic jam. I guess people tend to dislike the crowded place especially when using cars.
Second,"appearance of suburban shopping facilities"
Since the 2000's, suburban shopping facilities have been emerging here and there in Japan. Most of them are large-scale shopping malls and generally have a broad parking area available in free. In such a situation, it may be natural that many have shifted their purchasing behavior to suburban shopping facilities. In Takaoka, AEON Mall was constructed in the south area of Takaoka Station in 2002. Since then, the north side of Takaoka Station has been declined. On the other hand, the south-side has been thriving. Hokuriku Shinkansen opened in 2016 and New Takaoka Station was built in the south area. AEON determined to broaden its facility and now it is under construction. According to papers, these I mention above made them
decide to close their facility.
The status quo
In addition, the birth rate has been decreasing during decades. Obviously, the number of children and students are gradually reducing. Further, those who live in the center of the city are mainly elderly people. Most of the young generations using their own cars live in the suburb. In the near future, the number of vacant houses will be farther more in the center. As hollowing out of the central city area is proceeding, it will surely be a Ghost Town.
In the north-side area of Takaoka Station, we can see only a few pedestrians even on holidays and the shutters of the town along the street are mostly lowered.
It looks like a ghost town. Under this situation, it's too difficult to attract anybody else to this district.
I think the existence of the railway is the neck for moving into this area because the north and south road network is divided by it. It often causes a heavy traffic jam.
my idea for the future
First of all, we'd better eliminate the division by the railway if we had enough budget. One of the methods is that, only in the urban district, we make the railway rehashed the subway. If we do so, it'll be easier for us to go freely to each other. Next, all of the constructions in the north side of Takaoka Station need to be once dismantled into free space and redeveloped. After that, an attractive facility with a large parking area should be built. We have to reflect on what kind of facility we should build. We need to share a lot of wisdom to do so. This is the most difficult I think.
In addition, the situation of "Low birth rate and Aging" will still remain if any radical and effective solutions aren't done. If so, we can't stop even the decline of Japan itself.