|Aoba Ward, Yokohama|
|Area||35.06km² (13.54 sq. mi.)|
|Floral emblem||Yamazakura cherry
|Tree emblem||Nashi pear (Pyrus pyrifolia)|
|Website||Official web site
Aoba Ward (青葉区) is one of the 18 wards which make up the city of Yokohama, Japan. The area made up the northern part of Midori Ward until 1994. It has an area of 35.06 km² and a population of 291,212 (2005 figures).
The division and re-division of wards in this region have much to do with the way northern Yokohama have been developed by railroad companies. Once a remote farming community, the northern part of the (pre-1969) Kohoku had no railway access and comparably primitive Highway 246. The only trains that used to run then were on the JNR Yokohama Line (now JR East Yokohama Line), and as such the closest train stations to what is now Aoba were Nagatsuta, Toka-Ichiba, and Nakayama.
The construction and opening of the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line made a way to a rapid suburban development in this region, and with the growing population, the northwestern Kohoku Ward became Midori Ward, with its ward office near the Nakayama Station.
Apart from and following much later than Tokyu's "Tama Den-en-toshi" (東急多摩田園都市 Tōkyū Tama Den'en-toshi ) development, the Kohoku New Town (港北ニュータウン Kōhoku Nyūtaun ) development took place during the 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike the Tama Den-en-toshi, the Kohoku New Town did not come with the convenience of commuter rail lines until 1993; non-drivers had to ride a Yokohama City Bus line to either Shin-Yokohama Station (JR) or Eda Station (Tokyu) first and transfer to a train. The core of the Kohoku New Town became a significant commercial centre once the City of Yokohama completed the construction of its subway line extension between Shin-Yokohama and Azamino in 1993. This resulted in the entire Kohoku New Town being carved out as a new ward called Tsuzuki.
It is commonly misconstrued that the City of Yokohama divided Midori Ward into two (Midori and Aoba) and Kohoku Ward into two (Kohoku and Tsuzuki). This is not an accurate statement: These four wards were technically recombined into one, then redivided into four new wards. Hence some parts of the old Midori Ward went to Tsuzuki instead of Aoba Ward (for example, Nakamachidai was part of Midori Ward but now is part of Tsuzuki Ward, not Aoba).
Generally speaking, the post-1994 Kohoku ward encompasses the area along the Tokyu Toyoko Line (Tsunashima, Kikuna, etc.) and around Shin-Yokohama. The new Midori Ward includes the areas along the JR East Yokohama Line (Nakayama, Toka-Ichiba, Nagatsuta), while the new Aoba Ward loosely corresponds to the neighbourhoods on and near the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line (Tama Plaza, Azamino, Eda, Ichigao, Fujigaoka, Aobadai and Tana).
The major commercial centres are around the Aobadai (青葉台 Aoba-dai ) and Tama Plaza (たまプラーザ Tama Purāza ) stations. The far-northern end of Aoba and the Yamoto River (谷本川 Yamoto-gawa ) valley area retained their semi-rural characters until recent years, but farming is in decline as real-estate developers converted much of the farmlands and orchards into subdivisions and condominiums since the early 1990s.
The national highway route 246 (R-246) runs across Aoba, in a loosely parallel manner with the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line. The highway is elevated and limited-access, but is not a toll road. R-246 links the main commercial areas of Aoba with Tokyo (via Futako-Tamagawa and Shibuya).
In 1998, the Japan Highway Corporation opened the new Yokohama Aoba Interchange in Shimo-Yamoto near Ichigao to improve local access to and from the Tomei Expressway.
Much of the ward's development is a result of Tokyu Corporation's 1953 "Tama Den-en-toshi Concept." Under this plan, the railroad company rapidly developed suburban residential subdivisions with the new rail line as its pillar. Tokyu opened the rail service through what is now Aoba on April 1, 1966. The Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line has six stations (Aobadai, Fujigaoka, Ichigao, Eda, Azamino, Tama Plaza) in Aoba. Aobadai, Azamino and Tama Plaza stations are served by express trains. The Yokohama Municipal Subway has its terminus at Azamino. Additionally, the Yokohama MinatoMirai Railway Company owns two rail stations at Onda and Kodomo-no-Kuni; these stations are operated by Tokyu under contract and passengers can connect to the Den-en-toshi Line at Nagatsuta (in Midori). It is believed among the residents, especially of junior high school students and high school students of Aoba-ku, that the Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet trains will one day pass through Aoba-ku in the very future, although there is no evidence that officials of four Japan Railways Group companies are aiming to construct a new station in Aoba-ku for a new stop of Shinkansen. The rumor that Shinkansen will pass through Aoba-ku has been spread around about five years ago, however, nowadays many residents have realized that the rumor was not trustworthy after all and only among junior high school and high school students it is believed to be true.
The emblem of Aoba Ward was officially announced on November 6, 1996 to commemorate the birth of Aoba Ward. The emblem was chosen from a number of designs submitted by residents. The trees and different shapes inside the green oval actually spell "AOBA." The hill symbolizes the geographic location of Aoba Ward. This emblem signifies the warmth that the nature gives to human beings.