Rare map shows what Tokyo looked like in 1947 under US occupation

Tokyo’s Chiyoda district has reproduced a rare map from 1947 that shows how the American occupation of post-war Japan dominated and spread through the places residents pass through every day.

It has proven to be a hit with residents who want to remember and show their children what their neighborhood was like two years after the end of World War II.

Republished to mark the 75th anniversary of Chiyoda’s gaining district status, the map shows many buildings commandeered by American troops, including the headquarters of an insurance company that served as the headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the United States. Allied Powers (GHQ).

“The neighborhood map from the not-so-distant past shows many places illustrating Japan under occupation,” a neighborhood official said. “We hope this will serve as a starting point for people to think about the importance of peace.”

The former headquarters building of Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., which served as the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, in 1950 (file photo Asahi Shimbun)

The original map, published by Nihon Chizu Kabushiki Gaisha, measures 51 centimeters by 76 cm, or about the size of a small coffee table.

It was hosted at the Shinsendo Shoten bookstore which sells old maps in the Kanda-Jinbocho district, which is also part of the Chiyoda district.

“It is believed that only a small number of copies were printed when a map was created soon after the war due to lack of materials,” said bookstore owner Shingo Nagamori, 55. “A map published in 1947 is rare.”

Nagamori transferred ownership of the map to the parish office, hoping it would be useful in some way.

The area of ​​today’s Chiyoda district was burned to ashes by air raids during the war. Many buildings that survived the bombings were requisitioned by American troops.

These facilities are marked with a black star on the map, including the former Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Headquarters Building, the Meiji Seimei Kan Building, the Imperial Hotel, and the Hilltop Hotel.

The Kudan Kaikan Hall was used as the Army Hall and the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater as the Ernie Pyle Theater. Both venues have been made off-limits to the Japanese public.

An aerial photo of the Imperial Palace and its surroundings taken in 1952 shows the present-day Otemachi district, in the lower right corner, used as a parking lot after it was taken over by American troops. Seen in the lower left corner is Gyoko-dori Street. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The entire Otemachi area, located between the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station, served as a large parking lot and is marked as a “motor pool” on the map. The area is now home to high-rise offices and the Keidanren Kaikan building.

The Kasumigaseki district, the bureaucratic nerve center of Tokyo, and the Nagatacho district, the seat of Japanese politics, are marked respectively with “Washington Heights” and “Jefferson Heights”, to indicate American military housing areas.

“I realized the map was etched with information about what Tokyo was like under occupation,” Nagamori said.

When the neighborhood office planned to give out 200 replicas of the map in May, it was inundated with requests from around 3,400 people.

Officials inserted the map into the neighborhood office’s June newsletter distributed to about 42,000 households.

They have also made it free to download from the official website at (https://www.city.chiyoda.lg.jp/koho/kuse/koho/75shunen-kinemmap.html).

A replica of the 1947 map created to mark the 75th anniversary of Chiyoda (Michinori Ishidaira) gaining ward status

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