Machizukuri is a method of inter-community dialogue, aiming to build community capacity and cooperation between residents, while also encouraging engagement between community members and local government officials.

Problems and Purpose

Machizukuri is a method of inter-community dialogue and community-government engagement. Originating in the 1960s, the method's name, 'Machizukuri', translates to mean town or community building process. A "machizukuri council [discusses] the context of an urban plan with the aid of professional consultants and put forth their proposal to the city authorities, which carry out the plan taking the proposal into consideration.”[1]

The method is used to build community capacity and encourage cooperation between residents in bettering their own communities. As well, the method creates a channel of communication between the community and the government which encourages active dialogue and engenders accountability between the two parties.

Origins and Development

The method was developed in the 1960s. 

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Participants are largely self-selected especially during the initial development phase. Often, residents take it upon themselves to form the Machizukuri council and then proceed to encourage other residents to participate. 

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

The essential pillars of Machizukuri are to bond, bridge, and link social capital, or in other words, to create community unity, a multi-social sector network, and to get involved in government decision-making. With such a complicated and involved agenda, the Machizukuri method utilizes several other participatory tools and techniques such as town meetings, deliberation, consensus building, negotiation, information and opinion sharing, and local leadership. 

To get a sense of the method's process, it is useful to examine one instance of its use. In the 1990s, residents of the North District organized the Rokko Association for New Machizukuri in response to government plans to redevelop the area after the Kobe earthquake. Informational meetings were organized by the residents to learn more about the redevelopment plans so as to respond with their own, alternative options. The Association collected the opinions of residents regarding both their opposition to the government's plans and their ideas for alternative development. 

After this phase, a total of eight Machizukuri Councils were formed to increase community involvement and head-off the local government redevelopment. The eight councils soon came together in the Joint Machizukuri Council which served as a deliberative forum. Common, district-wide issues were identified and, in February of 1997, the addressing of these issues was assigned to five committees. 

There was a total of eight Machizukuri Councils that developed in the district and these eight councils developed into the Joint Machizukuri Council, which deliberated issues common to the whole North District. In February of 1997, five committees developed specifically for dealing with common issues and areas needing attention throughout the district. These committees — made up of residents from the area — focused on reconstructing homes, preventing disasters, caring for the live environment, tending to roads and open spaces, and parks.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

While Machizukuris are generally developed in response to a certain event (such as Rokko's redevelopment plans), its effects on community capacity building and residential mobilization can be long lasting. Not only were the Rokko residents successful in their self-led redevelopment but, in May of 1998, the original Machizukuri Council was reorganized into the 'Committee to Organize the Neighborhood Association' which kept each of the five subcommittees intact. A year later, the Rokkomichi Station North District Park Management Group developed to maintain the park they had rehabilitated. Over 4 years, more than 5,000 residents joined the Group and participated in the development and upkeep of local parks. 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this method? Help us complete this section!

See Also

The Use of Machizukuri After the 1995 Earthquake (Kobe, Japan) 


[1] Hirohara, Moriaki, and Yoshimitsu Shiozaki. "Urban Planning and Machizukuri." Hyogo Research Center for Quake Restoration. Accessed November 9, 2011.

Hein, C. (2002) Toshikeikaku and Machizukuri in Japanese Urban Planning, Contemporary Japan, 13(1), pp. 221 - 252. Available at:

Hirohara M. & Shiozaki Y. (2005) 'Machizukuri (Community Development) with Genuine Residents' Participation' in Shiozaki Y., Nishikawa E., & Deguchi T. (Eds) (2005) Lessons from the Great Hanshin Earthquake [trans. Watanabe, R.], Creates-Kamogawa Publishers.

Sorenson, A. & Funck, C. (2007) Living Cities in Japan: Citizens' Movements, Machizukuri and Local Envrionments. London; New York: Routledge. Available at:

External Links

Machizukuri (Community Development) with Genuine Residents' Participation

Advancing sustainable development at the local level: The case of machizukuri in Japanese cities