Report by Sayuri Minegishi, Park and Recreation Foundation Japan
With observations by Daniel Boulens, City of Lyon
World Urban Parks Japan held two successful seminars on 18 and 20 October 2017 with Parks and Recreation Foundation and Qualified Park Administrator Society, who are both members of World Urban Parks. The annual seminars are an information exchange on park management around the world, including reports on WUP congresses and parks in host cities.
This year we invited Daniel Boulens, General Manager of Public Parks and Gardens of the City of Lyon, France as a keynote speaker. Our main theme was the ecofriendly management of the public parks and gardens in Europe, with a special focus on France, and the concrete example of “Tête d’Or Park”. Ryu Ono, a Director of WUP, also reported on the WUP Asia Pacific Congress in Singapore in July, the International Forum in Minneapolis in August, and on WUP committees.
The seminar venues were Showa Kinen Park in Tokyo and Umekoji Park in Kyoto. Before each seminar, most participants joined a technical tour in each park. As a special speaker in Kyoto, Shunji Fujii made his presentation on the 23-year history of Umekoji Park. He is the Senior Managing Director of Kyoto City Greenery Association which manages Umekoji park. There was strong interest in the presentations, with both seminar rooms at capacity with park managers, consultants and landscape architects.
Showa Kinen Park is managed by the Parks and Recreation Foundation and is a major large urban park and one of 17 National Government Parks around Japan. Approximate 170 ha is now open to the public. More than four million people visit this park annually. When you come to Tokyo, don’t miss this park!
Photo: Sayuri Minegishi and Aline Boulens with Cosmos in Showa Kinen Park
Observations by Daniel Boulens, City of Lyon
It was my third visit to Japan and it is always a great experience at all levels. Japan is amazing and likeable! My first trip was in 2004 for the IFPRA congress in Hamamatsu. There was a strong earthquake, considered as a sign of welcome. This year, it was the typhoon “Lan”, with strong winds and rains, that welcomed us. In these times of concern over climate change, it was interesting to compare the policies and working methods of two different countries, France and Japan.
Undoubtedly parks and gardens and green space are important to both countries, but the uses by citizens and management are different. In France, the public services are extremely developed and the power of state is strong. Most parks and gardens are freely accessible and funded by local taxes paid by the local citizens. In Japan there are many different structures in charge of parks and gardens - the large parks I visited were fee-paying. I noticed many volunteers helping maintain the parks.
What impressed me most in the Japanese cities was the respect of each other, the cleanliness of the streets, and the peaceful and safe atmosphere everywhere, even in the crowded streets.
My presentations were on the Nature Based Solutions and Environment we try to develop in Lyon, the certification ISO 14001 obtained in 2005 and the no use of chemicals since 2007 in Lyon’s parks. We carried out a program of more than 300 different actions to respect the environment and promote a healthy use of the public spaces. The Japanese audience was very understanding and supportive, and our exchanges were highly constructive and fruitful.
I would like to thank the organizing committee for asking me to be a keynote speaker. Our first contact was in October 2016 during the European WUP congress in Albi (France). This kind of exchange was an excellent opportunity to promote the real benefits of the World Urban Parks Association. Following these conferences in Japan, I proposed to the Japanese team to come to France and discover our parks and gardens and how we manage them.
Over and above these professional aspects, let me mention the special friendship ties we have developed over many years. Thank you Sayuri for organizing such a meeting. Let me express a special thank to Yoritaka Tashiro who was a pioneer in developing IFPRA and WUP in Japan.