Tokyo: An Urban Portrait

ISBN 978-3-86859-575-8

ISBN 978-3-86859-575-8


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Tokyo: An Urban Portrait


Naomi C. Hanakata




Looking at a Megacity

Through Its Differences

Foreword by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto .................................................... 8

Note on the Transcription of Japanese Names and Terms............. 10

Prologue: My Personal Search for “Tokyo” ...................................... 11

1 Tokyo’s Differentiated

Urban Space ...................................................... 14

2 Differences in Tokyo ............. 40

3 Periodization of the

Tokyo Metropolitan

Complex ......................................................................... 66

Defining the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex .................................... 67

A Way of Reading History .................................................................. 71

Formation of a Resilient Urban Structure ....................................... 77

Reconvening of a Capitalist City ...................................................... 85

Production of a Dominant Centrality .............................................. 92

Implosion of a Region ...................................................................... 101





Urban Configurations

of the Tokyo

Metropolitan Complex .. 112

Archipelago of Centralities .............................................................. 119

Shitamachi Urbanization ................................................................. 131

Tôkaidô and Yamanote Urbanization ............................................. 143

Pattchiwa-ku Urbanization .............................................................. 159

Kôhaichi Urbanization ..................................................................... 174

Old Industrial Urbanization ............................................................ 184

New Industrial Urbanization ........................................................... 195

Manshon Urbanization .................................................................... 203

Production of

Differences on the

Neighborhood Scale ............ 220

Differences in a Dominant Centrality: Shinjuku ......................... 235

Differences and Incorporation: Shimokitazawa .......................... 261

Differences in the Periphery of Tokyo: Kitamoto ........................ 289

Conclusion ........................................................... 308

Acknowledgements .......................................................................... 321

List of Figures .................................................................................... 322

Bibliography ...................................................................................... 325


Yoshiharu Tsukamoto

Tokyo, April 2019

It is a great pleasure to be able to introduce this book on Tokyo and with

it the work of Naomi Hanakata. It is part of a body of work that is as valuable

for its insights and methods of analysis as it is for its description of Tokyo

today, of the city's historical trajectories and everyday life.

With her conviction that the urban condition is an all-encompassing,

dynamic phenomenon, and that its differences provide a key to its understanding,

Hanakata forms a bridge between different disciplinary angles, as

well as between latest advancements in urban theory and the empirical

reality of the city on the ground. As she studied, observed, and walked the

city, she uncovered idiosyncratic spaces and dynamic connections between

places and times, opening our minds to some remarkable understandings.

Her redefinition of differences as a productive and generative dynamic

opens new possibilities to discuss Tokyo as a place of “productive instabilities.”

These have created various urban textures as the result of incremental

and continuous dynamics rather than strategic planning visions. The city

has attracted many thinkers in the past as its fluidity shows a clear contrast

to the stability and authenticity of historical Western cities. Architectural

typology and urban morphology that have been established through studies

on the historical city in the West are therefore not always helpful or sufficient

in explaining the changing nature of Tokyo.

The portrait that Hanakata draws of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex,

challenges conventional and selective readings of the city as a site of

economic growth or struggle, of uncharted demographic territory with its

aging population, as a place for cultural intensities, immersed history, or

as an assemblage of small, idiosyncratic spaces. It is the encompassing of

different temporalities and scales that this portrait includes, which allows

one to see Tokyo in a novel light with variegated reflections on questions

about the urban condition.

The portrait of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex which this book

presents is also an explorative space that shows relations between and implications

of contradictory global trends and neighborhood transformations,

inter-dependencies of changes on both the global scale and the everyday


life in a neighborhood like Shimokitazawa or Kitamoto. Discussions of

centrality, conflict, political practices, or a communal sense are part of the

ingredients to the color palette that forms this portrait.

In Japan, the city is created and conceived in its smallest entities:

individual buildings and spaces. Rather than seeing the city as an accumulation

of such instances, Hanakata’s work helps us to see these individual

entities embedded in the social production of space through layers of time

and to see their relationality, which make up the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

as an ever-changing place.



Tokyo’s Differentiated

Urban Space


If our urban world has been imagined and made, then it can be reimagined

and remade. (Harvey 2004, 941)1

Tokyo is known as one of the world’s largest concentrated urban

regions. Discourses on Tokyo as a contemporary city have largely developed

around certain conceptualizations of its societal structure: namely, the

notion of a “homogeneous society” shifting towards a condition of “social

disparity,” which is reflected in Tokyo’s urban landscape. The idea of Tokyo’s

social homogeneity was consolidated in discussions of a “middle class society”

in the 1970s and 1980s (ichioku sôchûryû or kyûwari chûryû shakai in

Japanese),2 described as the product of prevalent communal values and the

time’s booming economy, which granted relatively equal access to resources.3

Since the 1990s, and with the economy’s continuing stagnation, the notion

of a “middle class” society has been gradually replaced by a description of

the society as “divided” (kakusa shakai in Japanese).4 Most contemporary

studies of the city and region of Tokyo have tried to substantiate these

claims with statistical and empirical data. The data they provide5 reveal a

considerably homogeneous urban region and suggest a relatively consistent,

predictable urban condition.

When I experienced Tokyo on the ground, my impression was quite

the opposite. I encountered a highly differentiated urban space with contrasting

qualities, stitched together in a continuous and multifaceted urban

layer. These urban qualities unfold in close spatial proximity, such that it is

difficult for visitors to ascertain what may appear around the next corner.

The question I started asking was: “How is Tokyo’s differentiated urban

space produced if elements such as migration and socioeconomic inequality,

common to other urban experiences, are missing?” This inquiry led me to

the core of the city’s urban conditions: namely, actors and dynamics that

produce such a territory and differences as a driving force in this production

process. Subsequently, the question guiding this research is: “How are differences

produced given Tokyo’s specific condition?” Without migration

and socioeconomic inequality as significant, structuring forces, the city

evades common descriptions of vibrant urban centers. Hence, I believe

Tokyo serves as an apt example for challenging established notions of difference,

such as gender, class and race, economic conditions, and ethnicity,

as the main productive agents for differences in our cities.

In addressing these questions, I elaborate on how the production

of differences is highly contingent on both global developments and specific

places and conditions. Therefore, the investigation and analysis of an

emerging global order—and its impact on the everyday—form a substantial

part of this study. What these differences are and how they are being produced

is the recurring thread throughout this book. By the end of this

text, I arrive at a conceptual understanding of differences as productive

15 Tokyo’s Differentiated Urban Space

The first group of interviews were mapping sessions, based on structured

questions with narrative inquiries. I asked participants to draw the provided

information on a map of the region. Participants included scholars, residents,

and informed users of urban space. I approached these individuals

because of their in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of the area (e.g.,

economy, planning, politics) or more general knowledge on a larger scale.

The second group of interviews was related to my case studies. In

most cases, these were structured guideline interviews, which I prepared

and adapted to each interviewee’s location and expertise and the case study

in question. I interviewed a heterogeneous sample of experts for each case

study including residents, shop owners, people employed in the area, government

officials, researchers, and external visitors. In the cases of Shimokitazawa

and Kitamoto, the role of non-institutionalized groups, such as

musicians and artists, is very important; therefore, some interviews occurred

spontaneously and in informal settings, such as in a shop or bar.

In both groups, interviewees were very engaged, indicating an active

interest and pride in their neighborhood and community.


I applied coding methods for the interpretation and analysis of my

transcribed interview material. I used a mix of open coding and axial coding,

based on grounded theory to develop a theoretical, text-based output.

The open coding procedure began with segmentation of interview transcripts

into thematic sections, followed by a highlighting of key words in

the transcript (in vivo codes) and annotations of these words (constructed

codes) with regard to themes and concepts relevant to my research question.

Finally, I organized the resulting codes from all interviews regarding

subordinate themes and repeatedly reviewed them for their relevance to

the production of differences. An axial coding procedure clarified relations

between phenomenon, causes, and consequences obtained through the

first coding process and different sets of interview data.29

This coding process effectively distilled the interview information

with its comparison of phenomena, situations, practices, and conditions.

With this procedure, I developed an understanding that forms the basis of

theoretical conceptions proposed in this book.


[The] ethical dimension of the map as articulating a specific relation

with the world is one of the reasons why in the field of social and

cultural theory, “maps,” “mapping,” and related spatial terms like

“place,” “position,” and “location” have become ubiquitous metaphors

for advocating “spatial politics.” (Thouny 2011, 36)30


Fig 1.1 Example of a map created during one of the first mapping sessions with urban scholars

Mapping is not merely a practical exercise or production of an artifact;

rather, it is a productive process in which a certain meaning is allocated to

our surroundings and a structure applied to make them accessible. In drawing

maps, we construct a visual representation of a complex reality, to which

we establish links. In their significance, however, these links do not remain

unilateral. As representations of a certain conception of space, they can

become powerful tools for describing a territory. This is an aspect of power

that must be considered in the production and reception of any kind of

map relating to the ground.

Mapping served as a key heuristic tool for this research. An evaluation

of various maps served as an entrance point to Tokyo and provided contextual

understanding of the city. In mapping sessions, maps were produced

in interviews by or with the interviewee in an analog fashion [Fig 1.1]. The

resulting maps were subsequently digitalized. The construction of one core

map (synthesis map) in a single digital document (an Illustrator file) generated

an archive and platform for all gathered geo-referenced information

on the basis of a geographical drawing of the area [Fig. 1.2]. This synthesis

map included hand drawings from mapping sessions, census data maps,

historical maps, and personal observations from my fieldwork.

In a subsequent step, I created a map of urban configurations as an

interpretation of this juxtaposed information. This map is the result of the

collected data and an interpretative reading of urbanization processes defining

the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex at a certain point in time (2011–2015).

It was updated and advanced throughout the entire period of study. The

urban configurations map yields precise information concerning the territory

25 Tokyo’s Differentiated Urban Space

contradictions, cultural and linguistic obstacles, or disciplinary boundaries.

The reach of the urbanization processes identified and analyzed in my research

is superimposed on the region’s built-up area; both establish the geographic

limits of my research [Fig. 1.4]. By framing my empirical study on the Tokyo

Metropolitan Complex, it is also my intention to move away from a geographical

and territorial entity (the twenty-three wards or the prefecture) and

to think of Tokyo as a space of conceptual exploration. Tokyo then becomes

more than just an after-effect of Edo, more than a city struggling with economic

regression or declining birth rates, and more than a fascinating transport

maze or the cradle of fascinating subcultures. For the purpose of this

study, then, the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex is understood as a space of

neighborly exchange, generational networks, interlinked production sites, a

home and construct within which all observed processes converge and

become apparent. It appears as a particularly intriguing site of study given

its considerable ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic homogeneity.

Lefebvre, who has notably never traveled to Japan himself, has nevertheless

alluded to Tokyo as most appropriate for an exploration of differences

as a social product. He points us to Japan when he quotes an anonymous

“Japanese philosopher of Buddhist background” in his Production of Space:

We do not separate the ordering of space from its form, its genesis

from its actuality, the abstract from the concrete, or nature from

society. There is no house in Japan without a garden, no matter how

tiny, as a place for contemplation and for contact with nature; even

a handful of pebbles is nature for us—not just a detached symbol of

it. We do not think right away of the distances that separate objects,

from one another. For space is never empty: it always embodies meaning.

The perception of gaps itself brings the whole body into play.

Every group of places and objects has a center, and this is therefore

true for the house, the city or the whole world.65

Book Structure

The first part this book examines the larger Tokyo Metropolitan Complex,

while the second part presents information at the level of the neighborhood.

Both are preceded by a discussion of the concept of the production

of differences, elaborating this study’s central question.

In Chapter 2, I introduce the variegated strands of research that have

revealed various aspects, implications, and manifestations of differences in

the urban realm. I point to the wide scope of existing discussions—including

their vagueness—that underline a demand for the investigation presented

in this research. The chapter further introduces ideas and terms from the

work of the French philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre and his

conception of the production of space, which are of particular relevance


Fig. 1.4 Extent of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex analyzed for this research


Built-up area

Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

0 10 km

33 Tokyo’s Differentiated Urban Space

Fig. 2.2 Demonizing the ‘Other’: A portrait of Commodore Perry after his

arrival in Japan in 1853

Particularly enlightening for a study of difference and Tokyo is a consideration

and exploration of the concept of the “Other.” As a more provocative

engagement with the concept of differences to begin with, the Other has

historically served as a category to capture the unknown and possibly disruptive

force in a struggle for self-determination. Susan Ruddick17 and

Jacques Derrida18 look at the “dark side” of differences to understand how

it “prefigures our imagination and stalks the horizons of our consciousness.”19

This view has a certain tradition in Japan, where the Other was

historically created as the “shadow” in a highly controlled society.20 During

the time of isolation in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries,

it was not only mystified but also commonly imagined as a demon.

These projections took a very visual form when the first Westerners encountered

were portrayed as hybrid creatures with human and dog features

[Fig. 2.2]. The most prominent, recent example for this view is Godzilla

(Gojira in Japanese), which was the embodiment of anxieties after the World

War II and of the fear of the Other, which had begun to influence the everyday

life and structure of Japanese society. The creature, Godzilla—a collateral

result of nuclear testing—has come to the city with a destructive mission,

reifying differences as a form of “radical alterity”21 [Fig. 2.3]. The question


Fig. 2.3 The emblematic “Other”: Godzilla (Gojira). Behind the scenes of

the Toho movie set in 1954

of difference has occupied scholars studying Japanese society at length

when it comes to “ex-centric” differences, meaning not an internal differentiation

but the state of being different from this Other, i.e., everything

“outside.” In only a relatively small number of instances, this particular

ex-centric struggle for a production of or resistance to differences becomes

internalized when minority groups (ethnic groups such as Chinese, Korean,

or Brazilian, or social outcasts such as Hibakusha22 or Burakumin23) negotiate

territory and representation in an urban context. The excentric exploration

of the Other—which took shape during the increasing nationalization

and nation-building efforts preceding the World War II and which, after

the World War II, ultimately created an exceptionality for the case of Japanese

society—is at the core of what is known as Nipponjinron (or “theory

of Japanese uniqueness or cultural specificity”).24 Nipponjinron is based

around certain value orientations along lines of nationality, culture, and

ethnicity, and fundamentally defined as an opposing value system, originally

to China and nowadays mainly toward the “West,” as described by scholars

such as Maruyama,25 Dale,26 Kelly,27 Sugimoto,28 or Befu.29 Nipponjinron

discusses Japanese identity, claiming it to be outside of “universal history,”

as mentioned by Maruyama30 and Befu.31 The idea and importance of (social)

47 Differences in Tokyo

Schmid expand to processes of differential urbanization.46 In contrast to

the homogenized, abstract space as a result of standardized processes and

routines in an industrialized society, it not only allows for differences but

also is defined by them. This “differential space” is ultimately urban space.

In a Lefebvrian framework, the city can thus be defined as a place

where differences encounter, acknowledge, and explore one another, and

affirm or cancel out one another. Distances in space and time are replaced

with opposites, contrasts, and superimpositions, and with the coexistence

of multiple realities. Lefebvre’s positive conception of the urban as differential

space-time should be understood as referring to a concrete utopia.47

This utopian space points towards the “real,” the continuously productive

and reproductive forces of the urban. In this constellation, differences

as a potential source for the urban become the active hinge by “linking

that which is near and far, here and there, actual and utopian, possible and


Struggle and Conflict

Struggles and conflicts are fundamental elements in the production

of differences. Both are contingent on the challenge of a dominant centrality

or a hegemonic power. For Lefebvre, “struggle” is an integral part of differences:

“The right to difference implies no entitlements that do not have

to be bitterly fought for.”49 Conflicts arise when dominant and repressive

powers over territories assert their claim. Actors in the neighborhood of

Shimokitazawa, for example, see their town as an alternative space to nearby

centralities of Shinjuku and Shibuya, who extended their spatial claim and

territory of manipulative power from the 1970s.50 Only in the moment of

encounter do differences establish a relationality and through that become

actually “different.” Apart from that key role in the process of production

of differences, conflicts can also produce new differences. For example, a

number of music clubs relocated from Shinjuku to Shimokitazawa after

they were threatened by large-scale redevelopments around Shinjuku station.

The environment they created in Shimokitazawa became conducive

to the establishment of bars and theaters in town. The moment of struggle

can, however, also mark a loss of differences as dominant powers incorporate

opposing dynamics into their own scheme of regulation.51

But not every struggle manifests as a riot in public space, a revolt online,

or both, as has been the case in many recent protests against despotism and

exploitation by authoritative and capitalist regimes in the Arab world, or in

and around global financial centers; in some cases struggle is internalized and

actors remain “silent.” Lefebvre posits that the articulation of opposing opinions,

at least in a bureaucratic political sense, requires certain skills. He raises

this claim when he distinguishes between those susceptible to manipulation


on the one hand and those who resist as an “enlightened elite at the margins

of political life” on the other hand.52 What he does not consider with his

claim is the sociocultural specificity under which struggle becomes articulated—or

not, i.e., the “nature” of the silent actor. In a society that is “seen

more as a body than an organization,”53 where a collective self-conception

prevails and ways of indirect communication apply, the “silent” actor cannot

be dismissed as passive or as a victim of manipulation, but has to be considered

within its specific sociocultural condition. In a conformist society

like Japan, where the nail that sticks out is pounded down, moments of

struggle and conflict can become apparent in an implicit way, through subtle

actions or as Stephan Kipfer describes it: in the “interstices of everyday life.”54

Kay Anderson describes this quality as “in -between-spaces,” borrowing from

Teresa de Lauretis. These spaces provide the possibility for differences to

negotiate the categorizations by which they have come to be known, as

discussed by de Lauretis55 and Anderson.56 In his extensive research on this

subject of relations in Japan, John Clammer concludes: “Interdependency

creates. For this reason, Japan has seen few true revolutionaries; reformers

and critics abound, but revolutionaries are in short supply since the system

does not need them, it regulates itself.57 Rather than once again taking a

“Western viewfinder” and declaring the concept of struggle as nonsystemic,

I suggest using another lens: looking at Tokyo and its urbanization processes,

I argue that struggle and conflict can also take shape in ways hidden to

conventional approaches and common tools of analysis. This lens “inherently

implies the existence in the lived world of a simultaneous multiplicity of

spaces: cross-cutting, intersecting, aligning with one another, or existing in

relations of paradox or antagonism,” as Doreen Massey suggests.58 This lens,

for example, discloses struggle manifested as collective, self-organized activities

as I observed in all three of my case studies, or in pull-and-push dynamics

between local groups that pass unnoticed by the undiscerning reader.

Thus, we need to widen our perceptions of manifestations of internal and

ex-centric struggles and expressions of conflict so we can, for example, also

recognize them in clandestine, residual, seemingly harmless, types of youth

culture, or innocuous forms of occupying streets and public space [Fig. 2.4].

Minimal and Maximal Differences

In his conceptualization of differential space, Lefebvre further establishes

a distinction between minimal and maximal differences. Minimal

differences are characterized by being not the same, but an “iteration” of

some sort. In contrast, maximal differences are radically different. They are

produced through a “rupture in a closed universe” and mean to “shatter a

system.”59 The production of maximal differences is fierce and implies a

“fundamental social transformation.”60 Maximal differences are produced

51 Differences in Tokyo

1 Christian Schmid. “Specificity and Urbanization: A Theoretical

Outlook.” In The Inevitable Specificity of Cities, 287–305.

Zurich: Lars Muller, 2015, 301.

2 Henri Lefebvre. The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis: University

of Minnesota Press, 2003.

3 Sharon Zukin. “Urban Lifestyles: Diversity and Standardisation

in Spaces of Consumption.” Urban Studies 35, no. 5–6

(1998): 825–839.

4 Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly. Gentrification.

New York: Routledge, 2008.

5 Schmid, “Specificity.”

6 Doreen Massey. For Space. London and Thousand Oaks,

California: Sage Publications, 2005.

7 Gill Valentine. “Living With Difference: Reflections on

Geographies of Encounter.” Progress in Human Geography 32

(June 2008): 323–37.

8 Susan Ruddick. “Domesticating Monsters: Cartographies

of Difference and the Emancipatory City.” In The Emancipatory

City?: Paradoxes and Possibilities, edited by Loretta Lees, 23–39.

London: Sage Publications, 2004.

9 Stuart Hall. “Culture, Community, Nation.” Cultural

Studies no. 7, issue 3 (1993): 261.

10 John R. Clammer. Japan and Its Others: Globalization,

Difference and the Critique of Modernity. Vol. 4. Trans Pacific

Press, 2001, 26.

11 John R. Clammer. Difference and Modernity: Social Theory

and Contemporary Japanese Society. Vol. 72. New York: Routledge,

2010, 68.

12 Homi K. Bhabha. “Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences.”

In The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, edited by Bill

Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, 2nd edition, 155–57.

New York: Routledge, 1995, 4.

13 Christian Schmid. “Henri Lefebvre, the Right to the City,

and the New Metropolitan Mainstream.” In Cities for People, Not

for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City, 42–62.

New York: Routledge, 2012, 48.

14 Ruth Fincher and Jane Margaret Jacobs. Cities of Difference.

New York: Guilford Press, 1998.

15 Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space. Translated by

Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

16 Clammer, Japan, 32.

17 Ruddick, “Domesticating Monsters.”

18 Jacques Derrida. “Passages—From Traumatism to Promise.”

Points... Interviews 1994 (1974): 385–87; and “Some Statements

and Truisms about Neologisms, Newisms, Positisms, Parasitisms,

and Other Small Seismisms.” In The States of ‘Theory’: History,

Art, and Critical Discourse, edited by David Carroll, 63–94. New

York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

19 Ruddick, “Domesticating Monsters,” 6.

20 Norio Akasaka. Ijin-Ron Josetsu [An introduction to the

theory of the “other”]. Tokyo: Sunagoya Shobo, 1985.

21 Ruddick, “Domesticating Monsters,” 7.

22 Hibakusha is the term used in Japanese for the survivors

of the atomic bombings at the end of the World War II. Hibakusha

are still confronted with discrimination in Japan due to a general

ignorance regarding radiation sickness. See Gloria R. Montebruno

Saller, “Hiroshima, Atomic Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha), and the

‘2020 Vision Campaign.’ Personal Narratives as Stepping Stones

to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons by 2020.” International

Journal of Arts & Sciences 7, no. 6 (2014): 577–86.

23 Burakumin is an umbrella-term to describe the outcaste

in the Japanese feudal system. The term is still used today for people

who are descending from this cast and suffering from discrimination.

See Timothy D. Amos. Embodying Difference: The Making of Burakumin

in Modern Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011.

24 In scholarly literature this discourse is also known as


25 Masao Maruyama. “Patterns of Individuation and the

Case of Japan: A Conceptual Scheme.” In Changing Japanese Attitudes

toward Modernization, edited by Marius B. Jansen, 489–532.

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.

26 Dale, Peter N. The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness. London

and Sydney: Croom Helm and Nissan Institute for Japanese Studies,

1986. https://doi.org/10.1177/003231878703900213.

27 William W. Kelly. “Finding a Place in Metropolitan Japan:

Ideologies, Institutions, and Everyday Life.” In Postwar Japan as

History, edited by Andrew Gordon, 189–238. Berkeley and Los

Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.

28 Yoshio Sugimoto. “Making Sense of Nihonjinron.” Thesis

Eleven 57, no. 1 (1999): 81–96.

29 Harumi Befu. Hegemony of Homogeneity: An Anthropological

Analysis of” Nihonjinron.” Vol. 5. Melbourne: Trans Pacific

Press, 2001.

30 Masao Maruyama, “Patterns of Individuation.”

31 Befu, Hegemony.

32 Henry Harootunian. “Shadowing History: National Narratives

and the Persistence of the Everyday.” Cultural Studies 18,

issue 2–3 (2004): 89.

33 Clammer, Japan and Its Others, 3.

34 Lukasz Stanek. Henri Lefebvre on Space: Architecture,

Urban Research, and the Production of Theory. London: University

of Minnesota Press, 2011.

35 Loretta Lees. “The Ambivalence of Diversity and the Politics

of Urban Renaissance: The Case of Youth in Downtown Portland,

Maine.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 27,

no. 3 (2003): 613.

36 Masao Miyoshi and Harry D. Harootunian. Postmodernism

and Japan. Post-Contemporary Interventions. Durham: Duke

University Press, 1989; and Harry Harootunian. History’s Disquiet:

Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life.

New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

37 Johann Pall Arnason and Yoshio Sugimoto. Japanese Encounters

with Postmodernity. Japanese Studies. London: Kegan Paul

International, 1995.

38 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 119.

39 Henri Lefebvre. Lefebvre, Henri. Critique of Everyday Life

Volume 3: From Modernity to Modernism. Special edition, London

and New York: Verso, 2008, 111.

40 Ibid., 111.

41 Gilles Deleuze. Différence et Répétition. Paris: Presses

Universitaires de France, 1968.

42 Gilles Deleuze. Bergsonism. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson

and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Zone Books, 1990, 57.

43 Todd May. 2005. Deleuze: An Introduction. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 20.

44 Ibid., 60.

45 Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution, 118.

46 Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid. “Towards a New

Epistemology of the Urban?” City 19, no. 2–3 (May 4, 2015): 166.

47 Christian Schmid. “Henri Lefebvre, the Right to the City,

and the New Metropolitan Mainstream.” In Cities for People, Not

for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City, 42–62.

London: Routledge, 2012, 49.

48 Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas. “Lost in Translation—Time,

Space and the City.” In Writings on Cities, 3–60.

Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, 27.


49 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 396.

50 See Chapter 5, Shinjuku and Shimokitazawa.

51 See Chapter 5, Shimokitazawa.

52 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 51.

53 Clammer, Difference and Modernity, 73.

54 Stefan Kipfer. “How Lefebvre Urbanized Gramsci. Hegemony,

Everyday Life, and Difference.” In Space, Difference, Everyday

Life, edited by Kanishka Goonewardena, Stefan Kipfer, Richard

Milgrom, and Christian Schmid, 193–211. New York: Routledge,

2008, 203.

55 Teresa de Lauretis. Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory,

Film, and Fiction. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University

Press, 1987.

56 Kay Anderson. “Sites of Difference: Beyond a Cultural Politics

of Race Polarity.” In Cities of Difference, edited by Ruth Fincher

and Jane Margaret Jacobs, 201–25. New York: Guilford Press, 1998.

57 Clammer, Difference and Modernity, 68.

58 Doreen Massey. “Thinking Radical Democracy Spatially.”

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13 (June 1995): 3.

59 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 372

60 Stefan Kipfer, Christian Schmid, Kanishka Goonewardena,

and Richard Milgrom. “Globalizing Lefebvre?” In Space, Difference,

Everyday Life, 285–305. New York: Routledge, 2008, 292.

61 Schmid, “Specificity,” 302.

62 Kipfer, “How Lefebvre,” 204.

63 Andrew Shmuely. “Totality, Hegemony, Difference, Henri

Lefebvre and Raymond Williams.” In Space, Difference, Everyday

Life, edited by Stefan Kipfer, Richard Milgrom, Christian Schmid,

and Kanishka Goonewardena, 212–30. New York: Routledge,

2008, 203.

64 Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution.

65 See Chapter 4, “Archipelago of Centralities” and Chapter 5,


66 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 332.

67 Georg Simmel. “Metropolis and Mental Life.” In The Sociology

of Georg Simmel, translated by Kurt Wolff, 409–24. New

York: Free Press, 1950, 411.

68 Simmel, “Metropolis,” 420.

69 Hall, “Culture,” 353.

70 Raymond Williams notes, that “hegemony” has the “advantage

over general notions of totality, that it at the same time

emphasizes the facts of domination.” See Raymond Williams.

Culture and Materialism: Selected Essays. London: Verso, 2005, 37.

71 Raymond Williams. Marxism and Literature. Vol. 1. Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 1977, 113.

72 Shmuely, “Totality.”

73 Henri Lefebvre. Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment.

Edited by Łukasz Stanek. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota

Press, 2014, 111.

74 Anne Vogelpohl. Urbanes Alltagsleben: Zum Paradox von

Differenzierung und Homogenisierung in Stadtquartieren. Berlin:

Springer, 2012 translation by the author.

75 Christian Schmid. Stadt, Raum und Gesellschaft: Henri

Lefebvre und die Theorie der Produktion des Raumes. Vol. 1. Stuttgart:

Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005, 211.

76 Clammer, Japan and its Others, 7

77 Simmel, “Metropolis,” 420.

78 John A. Clausen, Orville G. Brim, Alex Inkeles, Ronald

Lippitt, Eleanor E. Maccoby, and M. Brewster Smith. Socialization

and Society. Boston: Little, Brown Boston, 1968, 5.

79 Clammer, Difference and Modernity, 68.

80 Eshun Hamaguchi. “Nihonrashisa” No Saihakken [Rediscovery

of “Japaneseness”]. Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1991.

81 Harootunian, History’s Disquiet, 5.

82 Lefebvre, Toward.

83 Harry Harootunian. “Time’s Envelope: City/Capital/

Chronotope.” Architectural Theory Review 11, no. 2 (2006): 13.

84 Lefebvre, Critique, 65.

85 Harootunian, “Shadowing History.”

86 Christophe Thouny. “Dwelling in Passing: A Genealogy

of Kon Wajiro’s 1929 ‘New Guidebook to Greater Tokyo.’” PhD

thesis, New York University, 2011.

87 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 155.

88 Henri Lefebvre. Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday

Life. Edited by Gerald Moore and Stuart Elden. London and New

York: Continuum, 2004.

89 See Chapter 5, “Shimokitazawa.”

90 Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 123.

91 See case study of Shimokitazawa and Kitamoto in chapter

5 for a discussion of nostalgia in relation to differences.

92 See Christophe Thouny’s (2011) in-depth study of Kon’s

work and the question of modern housing during the Taishô Era.

93 See Chapter 4, “Archipelago of centralities” and Chapter

5, “Shinjuku.”

94 See Chapter 4, “Shitamachi Urbanization.”

95 Jordan Sand. Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local

Histories, Found Objects. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of

California Press, 2013, 21.

96 See Chapter 5, “Shimokitazawa.”

97 Roger Diener, Christian Schmid, Marcel Meili, Jacques

Herzog, and Pierre de Meuron. Switzerland: An Urban Portrait.

Vol. 1–3. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006.

98 Christian Schmid. “Theory.” In Switzerland: An Urban

Portrait, edited by Roger Diener, Christian Schmid, Marcel Meili,

Jacques Herzog, and Pierre de Meuron. Vol. 3. Basel: Birkhäuser,

2006, 167.

99 Diener et al., Switzerland.

100 Schmid, “Specificity.”

101 Schmid, Stadt, Raum, 291.

102 Lefebvre, Architecture of Enjoyment.

103 Ananya Roy. “The 21st-Century Metropolis: New Geographies

of Theory.” Regional Studies 43, (2009): 820.

104 Schmid, “Specificity.”

105 Ernest Watson Burgess. “The Growth of the City: An

Introduction to a Research Project.” In The Trend of Population,

American Sociological Society, Vol. 28. American Sociological

Society, 1925.

106 Fincher and Jacobs, Cities of Difference, 6.

65 Differences in Tokyo


Political leader

Nobles and warriors

Farmers and fishermen

(90% of the population)




Fig. 3.7 Diagram of Edo’s urban layout









(“peasants”) and chônin (“merchants”) [Fig. 3.7]. Peasants formed the majority

of the population: these farmers and fishermen ensured the supply of

food for the entire population and thus were highly valued within the social

hierarchy. The penultimate lower class were the artisans, including traditional

craftsmen such as sword-makers or dressmakers, as well as all practitioners

of other fine arts and entertainment. The lowest class were merchants in

charge of trade, shop keeping, and other money-related businesses. Outside

this class system, people were referred to as Burakumin and Eta (“hamlet

people” and “abundance of filth”). They had occupations considered inappropriate

for others, such as the slaughtering of animals or craftsmanship

involving the processing of leather. Growing trade business and commercialization

furthered the increasing stratification of city dwellers and people

living in the countryside. “[The] development of a commercial economy led

to greater regional variations as rural areas near cities became more involved

in the market than did remote areas such as Tôhoku in northern Honshu.

Despite regional differences, by the eighteenth century village society comprised

an economic, political and social pyramid with a stratum of very

wealthy landowners and industrialists at the top, medium and small landholders

in the middle, and landless tenant farmers, wage laborers and hereditary

servants at the bottom.”26

In the city of Edo, back alleys (roji in Japanese) were the heart of social

life and local networks. The dominant housing typology for commoners

was the rowhouse, nagaya. These buildings typically had a short front where

business was carried out, followed by the areas where people lived stretching

to the back. The back alleys formed by these row houses were free of through

traffic and safe for children to play in [Fig. 3.8]. Household activities, as

well as kitchens, were often externalized and integrated into these spaces.

This made them more important spaces of daily life for both individual

families and the community. The architectural historian Hidenobu Jinnai


Fig. 3.8 Main street in Edo with nagaya houses extending to the back

writes about the significance of these spaces during the Edo Period: “In

Edo, it was in such micro-spaces that a certain degree of self-government

took shape; it was in these same back alleys that the foundation of stable

society was laid.”27 With the expansion of sanitary installations and utility

supplies to individual homes at the beginning of the twentieth century, the

functions and the necessity of these spaces started to change and they lost

their shared function and the intimacy of a private-public space. Gradually,

these alleys were not integrated into the progressive “modernization” of

the city, and precautionary fire and health hazard measures led to a disappearance

of this urban morphology.


The end of this period of Formation of a Resilient Urban Structure

was triggered by the difficulty of keeping the country closed from any

contact with the outside world. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century,

exchange between the shogunate and delegates of the United States,

England, and Holland had become more frequent, and the shogun and his

army were convinced of the superiority of foreign powers.28 In 1858, the

shogun finally consented to a commercial treaty with the United States in

81 Periodization of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex


Fig. 3.12 View of Marunouchi in the 1960s

Fig. 3.13 Tokyo Fire Department control center in the 1960s


The production of a dominant centrality is characterized by growth -

oriented development that strengthened the supremacy of Tokyo within the

constellation of the cities of Japan. The period started with an internal focus

on the recovery from war damage under the Allied occupation, which lasted

until 1952. The growth-driven development soon restored global competitiveness

and the industry and economy of Japan, which were centered around

Tokyo. With an extreme increase of capital volume and technological innovation,

also referred to as the “economic miracle,” living standards rose and

created a remarkable consumer culture and national confidence at the time.

Conceived Space

The early postwar phase was defined by the occupation of the Allied

Powers under the guidance of General Douglas MacArthur, who was the

Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP). With Japan’s surrender, a

new constitution was drafted by the Allied Powers which gave the emperor

a merely symbolic role and stated a declaration of renunciation of any act

of war (Article 9). This constitution remains valid today. However, a recent

reinterpretation regarding Article 9 provides Japanese Self-Defence Forces

greater capacities to get involved in international combat, a political move

which is in itself very contentious. By linking the Japanese yen to the U.S.

dollar in 1949, the American occupation also introduced a crucial element

for long-term economic stability and a successful Japanese economy.57

Immediately after the war, the Allied Powers also tried to dissolve the Zaibatsu,

as they were partly blamed for Japan’s pervasive imperial expansion

in the years before the war. Their networks and alliances, however, proved

to be resilient and many of the former Zaibatsu re-emerged as Keiretsu (or

“group of enterprises”). They formed a major driving force behind the reconstruction

and Japan’s locally-driven economic success: “Keiretsu fostered

vertical and horizontal integration across a wide range of industries and

sealed close ties through extensive cross-holdings of stocks and shares,

serving to block foreign penetration of the Japanese economy.”58

The decision to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 marked

the end of the postwar period and the next phase of ambitious long-term

projects. Tokyo had already become a city of global relevance for export

and financial investment, both domestically and abroad. At this point, Tokyo

became a centrality where regional and international networks started to

accumulate and converge [Fig. 3.12]. This moment also marks the beginning

of Tokyo becoming increasingly part of a global network, and economic

and technological progress quickly changed the urban landscape in the city

[Fig. 3.13]. This transformation produced an uneven terrain of development



Fig. 3.16 Night view from Ebiso towards Shibuya

Fig. 3.17 Young woman sitting in front of a fashion department store in Harajurku with Christmas

decoration and the announcement of an album release by Dreams Come True in the back


The short-lived bubble economy at the end of the 1980s was a period of

collective hysteria, a crazy time of frothy fortunes, pie-in-the-sky projects,

and lavish living that suddenly evaporated. (Kingston 2012, 29)94

The last and most recent period is characterized by a new growth -

oriented regime and the redistribution of power to the private sector.95

A prolonged economic recession, arguably lasting until the 2010s, and an

increasing appreciation of urban assets and values set the frame for this

period [Fig. 3.16]. With declining land prices in the inner-city area and

stagnating economic growth development, dynamics shifted from the

periphery to the core of the city. Various strategies and policies were

implemented to revitalize the inner city. Key in this period is again a tight

collaboration between state policies and private investment with deregulation

that supports the rediscovery of urban space as a source of economic

growth. State interventions have facilitated a recentralization process,

which triggered a growing discrepancy between the central and peripheral

regions of Tokyo: selected areas are boosted for international competition

and the portrait of the city attuned to global comparison. An ongoing

debate on the primary drivers of this shift, as well as the particularity of

Japan’s neoliberal regime, has dominated political -economic discussions

in Japan. Scholars such as Kuniko Fujita, for example, claim Japan is continuously

“shaped by state-centered developmental capitalism and not

by the new finance-centered growth regime postulated by the regulation


After decades of confidence and complacency, many companies

were forced into bankruptcy and families were plunged in debt because

of rising mortgage rates during the bubble. In the 1990s, newspaper headlines

focused on increasing numbers of suicides. The people who committed

suicide wanted their families to be able to collect some money from

life insurance policies. At the same time, the “cardboard-box community”

of people living on the streets was growing in size around train stations,

a fact that can be seen as a testimony of individual and family hardships

demanded by this transition.97 Growing calls for a more democratic society,

transparent governance, public participation and oversight, and greater

accountability based on the rule of law were made during this period.

While the 1990s and 2000s ended with the bemoaning of yet another lost

decade, the hope for the recession and general depression to be over was

equally incessant. A series of dramatic atavisms in 2011—the Great Tohoku

Earthquake and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear disaster—shook the

country. Whether or not this triple catastrophe marks the beginning of a

new period is yet to be seen.

101 Periodization of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

knowledge of its history is crucial for its understanding today. Anthropologist

Akihiro Ogawa describes the fusion of contemporary life and historic

imaginaries in his depiction of Shitamachi:

When one walks into the back alleys, one often hears regular muffled

industrial sounds, which come from somewhere or another. These

are mainly coming from nearby family-run factories that manufacture

small metal parts. These alleys used to offer splendid play areas for

children, but nowadays one rarely sees youngsters here. For me, the

scenery has a nostalgic feel. It is the sort of neighborhood that could

have been seen in any Japanese urban area.22

The very name of this configuration, thus, emphasizes a notion of

backward looking. Shitamachi urbanization is substantiated by living off

and indulging in the past, while transformation processes of the physical

environment and people’s lives in the area continue. Despite its shifting

boundaries, Shitamachi has been used to identify and demarcate people

and places in the core of Tokyo.23 The term, though, was never more than

an informal designation without administrative existence. Academic geographer

Paul Waley, in his study of its shifting boundaries and conceptions,

refers to a definition of Shitamachi as “a low-lying urban area,” in which

“[u]rban districts [are] inhabited preponderantly by traders, artisans, and

the like.”24 Waley specifies that “[i]n Tokyo, it refers to Taitô, Chiyoda, and

Chûô ward and the areas to the east of the Sumida river”25 [Fig. 4.13]. A

geographically broader term used in planning documents is Kawanote,

which literally means the “hand of the river” and which geographically

forms a counterpart to the “hand of the mountains” of the Yamanote.26

While the term Kawanote is trying to discourage negative connotations of

Shitamachi as the “low” and mundane city, it is at the same time trying to

evoke the idea of a new urban living in the core of Tokyo.

Pattern of Shitamachi Urbanization

Shitamachi urbanization extends over an area in the northeast of the

archipelago of centralities. It stretches from the Imperial Palace in the west

across the riverbeds of the Sumida River to the east, from the Arakawa,

Naka, and Shin-naka rivers to the Kyû Edo and Edo rivers, as well as many

smaller canals in between. Only the area that was historically the heart of

the Shitamachi, the part between the Imperial Palace and the Sumida River

in the east, developed into a main regional centrality and the city’s central

business district around Marunouchi and Tokyo Station.

Shitamachi urbanization incorporates a mix of residents, functions

and building typologies. Large tracts of its street layout are based on a

grid, and it follows the grid structure of the early Chinese-style capitals

of Nara and Kyoto, which served as a model here. The layout gave the army


Fig. 4.12 Map of urban configuration: Shitamachi urbanization

Shitamachi urbanization: Old centrality and traditional

commercial and manufacturing center

dominated by small-sized workshops. It is gradually

transforming and the formerly distinct urban

pattern is dissolving.

Archipelago of main regional centralities

0 10 km

133 Urban Configurations of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

Fig. 4.19 Fifth station along the Tôkaidô Route, Ukiyo-e woodcut print by Utagawa Hiroshige

around 1833

Patterns of Tôkaidô and Yamanote Urbanization

The commuter train lines serve as a structural backbone and as a

supply chains for people and facilities in the area of Tôkaidô and Yamanote

urbanization. Mostly laid out in the early twentieth century, these lines

operated as an engine for the continually expanding area, which developed

in radial patterns around stations. These stations serve as both commuter

hubs and important service points for all daily needs away from the main

regional centralities. Shopping centers are combined with parking lots;

cram schools are conveniently placed next to train exits; and entertainment

facilities are surrounded by restaurants and bars. In the case of Tokyo, this

creates an evenly extending landscape, rhythmically structured by the reoccurring

increase of built-up volume, density, and commercial activities

around train stations and sudden decreases at the fringes, which lead into

the steady flow of residential housing.

The landscape of the Yamanote stands out as it is devoid of any significant

centralities or major employment centers. Its built volume is formed

by prototypical homes for the hardworking salarîmen ( or “salarymen”), who

endure long daily commutes to have their own houses within the urban

extent [Fig. 4.22, 4.23].49 The Tôkaidô area, in contrast, is tied to a linear

extension of smaller regional centralities along the coast [Fig. 4.24]. A concentration

of infrastructural lines defines the southern edge of the configuration

where it borders with the configuration of old industrial urbanization,

which contains larger centers employment. In both cases, the current demographic

shift to an “aged society,” unstable economy, and the changing labor

market organization challenges the male-breadwinner household model.50


Fig. 4.20 Map of urban configuration: Tôkaidô urbanization with the archipelago of centralities

Tôkaidô urbanization (laminar urbanization):

Long-established urban area with a socially and

morphologically homogeneous structure, oriented

towards the infrastructural corridor along

the coastline.

Archipelago of main regional centralities

0 10 km

145 Urban Configurations of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

literature.138 It is also neither simply a process of filling up land with nonagricultural

activities in between major cities, similar to the “edge city”;139

nor an “anonymous space with no visual quality” as suggested by the Zwischenstadt.140

Pattchiwa-ku urbanization is the result of various historical

trajectories and a specific and complex coexistence of different logics in

space and time. This multilayered condition is not a transitory phenomenon,

but a lasting condition, as the past decades have shown. This condition is

informed by the continuous interplay between these different layers, in

various ways of dependency and confrontation, which are an integral part

and a defining quality of this configuration.

Lastly, a center-periphery dichotomy, which scholars such as Ralph

Lützeler have explored, is slowly increasing due to the demographic shift

and economic restructuring processes in Japan.141 As a consequence of

increasing local autonomy, local communities are left to fend for themselves

and deal with the challenges of this multilayered condition, which includes

the complex superimposition of economic and demographic challenges.

Viewed from the vantage point of the main regional centralities, the area

is sometimes pejoratively referred to as inaka (or “countryside”), as though

the very antithesis of the urban and civilized city of Tokyo. The area’s historical

and continuing rural character, however, is not merely a mark of

backwardness, but a point of departure for differentiation, and the basis

for a specific social-territorial identity that is gaining relevance in the context

of ongoing regional restructuring.



Fig. 4.34 Paddy fields in Ibaragi Prefecture

Fig. 4.35 Satellite view of central area in Chiba Prefecture


The impact of industrialization is key in the development of the city,

in the dynamic of its expansion and formation. However, the number and

size of areas directly impacted by industrial production is decreasing. In

the case of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex, territories defined by industrial

production are focused on two areas: around large parts of Tokyo Bay

and in the northern periphery of the urban area. The area around the bay

is the old industrial area of the region [Fig. 4.40]. It is still an active site of

production, with a focus on manufacturing, but is undergoing many changes

in terms of structure and landscape, as well as in its relation to the wider

Tokyo Metropolitan Complex. The following subchapter introduces the

urban configuration referred to as old industrial urbanization and looks at

the pattern this configuration forms around the bay of Tokyo [Fig. 4.41].

We can only understand the transformation of the territory and the

everyday routines of people working and living in the area by understanding

changes in industrial production. In particular, the emergence of flexible

and specialized clusters and the larger-scale dynamics in the region through

a revaluation of the urban core and its peripheral decline over the past

decade are key for this understanding. On an even larger scale, transformation

processes in these areas are tied to a global network of production

chains and the globally increasing division of labor. In the Japanese context,

technological innovation has been closely tied to industrial agglomeration

and the concept of social network relations.157 This subchapter and the next,

titled “New Industrial Urbanization,” do not aim for a detailed analysis of

Japan’s industrial development. Its system of flexible production and manufacturing

and innovation have been studied at length by scholars both

in- and outside Japan. The concept of flexible production and its significance

for Japanese economic growth, for example, has been extensively discussed

in the earlier works of Kuniko Fujita and her colleague Richard Child Hill.158

This part of my urban portrait of Tokyo looks at the industrial area around

the bay of Tokyo and the particular dynamics of urbanization in this region.

The term chosen for this configuration, old industrial urbanization, refers

to the old and established structures within this configuration and at the

same time alludes to a characteristic of this industrialization process since

the newer developments are captured in the following subchapter.

Pattern of Old Industrial Urbanization

in the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

The configuration of old industrial urbanization stretches along Tokyo

Bay, from the northern tip of the Miura Peninsula to the western side of

the Bôsô Peninsula [Fig. 4.42]. Without much variation, industrial plants


Fig. 4.42 Map of urban configuration: old industrial urbanization

Old industrial urbanization: Old industrial belt

stretching along Tokyo Bay, dominated by largescale

production sites; marked by relocation of

manufacturing industries and redevelopment for

residential use.

Archipelago of main regional centralities

0 10 km

185 Urban Configurations of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

of a continuous economic concentration in Tokyo. In practical terms, the

urban fringe remains the only area within the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

where agricultural land is still available for conversion and, therefore, able

to accommodate larger industrial sites. The headquarters of Glico in eastern

Japan is an example of this development [Fig. 4.52]. Originally from the

Kansai region, the company opened a new manufacturing location in the

city of Kitamoto in Saitama Prefecture, and its new presence in the Kanto

region can be seen as the product of forces of agglomeration. Glico’s move

not only situates it among related industries but also optimizes access to

main centralities and places of decision-making for national economic

development. This is in line with a general agglomeration trend within the

capital region that started before World War II and has been extensively

studied by scholars both in and outside Japan.188 This development is receiving

particular support by local industrial organizations as they continue to

promote the locational advantages of the metropolitan periphery.189 The

local government in the city of Kitamoto hoped that the arrival of Glico

would mark the first step in the development of a new industrial area.190

However, a local referendum cancelled the development of a new train

station that would have served this new area and so the future of industry

in Kitamoto has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, it is the sites of manufacturing

and production in the periphery today that provide important

centers of employment and activities, and keep the area from being a mere

belt of bed towns around the urban core.

Second, some areas in this belt already show a high concentration of

unemployment and untrained workers, and demographic projections predict

a loss of more than 10 percent of the local population by 2030.191 New

housing developments in the central area over the past fifteen years have

created new opportunities for younger people to move to the city center

and to be closer to large employment centers and amenities. This dynamic

has led to increasing segregation by age; within municipalities in the peripheral

area where the population aged sixty-five years and older account for

more than 25 percent.192 While the configuration of old industrial urbanization

is gradually being “broken up” and infused with new functions, the

configuration of new industrial urbanization in the periphery is gradually

being depleted and facing the downside of a contracting concentration of

people and activities in the urban core.193

The depreciation of the Japanese yen against the US dollar due to the

Bank of Japan’s aggressive quantitative easing and Prime Minister Abe’s

stimulus program in the early 2010s are only having a minor effect on these

general trends. The weak yen has made production costs overseas higher

than in Japan in some cases, with the result that some large Japanese manufacturers

have started to move some of their production back to Japan.194


Fig. 4.52 Honda factory outlet near Tachikawa, Tokyo Prefecture

Casio, Canon, Honda Motor, and Pioneer, to name just a few, have all moved

plants from different locations in Southeast Asia back to Japan.195 The most

recent slow increase of the Japanese yen, however, is again reason to be

cautious for cautiousness regarding this trend. The export volume of car

manufacturers in Japan remains low, since production sites have been set

up overseas over the past decades (with North America currently being

largest production center), and, thus, currency fluctuations are not a sufficient

reason for large restructurings.196 To what extent we can expect a

“reshoring trend”197 of production to continue and industrial facilities to

be revitalized and expanded, and with that new industrial urbanization to

grow, remains to be seen.

201 Urban Configurations of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

apple How can this understanding help to address issues and developments

under current conditions of urbanization?

The various contexts, spaces, narratives, and biographies of my case

studies provide an immediate impression of the everyday dimension of urbanization.

I include perspectives of various urban actors through my heterogeneous

mode of data acquisition. At the same time, by informing the concept

through such an approach it will hopefully allow the concept to become

operational on a wider scale and across different and specific contexts.



Pages 227–234 Series of photographs of Shinjuku taken by the author ↑ View from Shinjuku City

Hall towards the west, 2011 ↓ Street in the residential area of Kashiwagi, just a block away from the

Ome Highway, 2013


↑ Small shopping street running parallel to MOA Street, 2014 ↓ View towards the north on the western

side of Shinjuku Station, 2013.c

231 ↑ Shinjuku Odori, pedestrian area, 2010 ↓ List of establishments in a building in Kabukichô, 2013

Fig. 5.4 Landscape of Edo in the nineteenth century with a large residence in the forground

surrounded by paddy fields in the back

one of the five major traveling routes through the country, all of which led

to Nihonbashi on the east side of the Imperial Palace. The Kôshû Kaidô

went westward and ended in the mountains of Nagano. There, in Shimosuwa-shuku,

it met the Nakasendô, the northern route, which continued

to Kyoto. As the final post before leaving the city, and the place that marked

the beginning of the city for those arriving, various amenities and services

were offered in Shinjuku. It was the first and last stop to enjoy the pleasures

and conveniences of the city and purchase goods that could only be found

there before returning to more remote parts of the country. This marked

the beginning of Shinjuku’s status as a major location for entertainment,

trends, and shopping facilities, a position that continues to this day.

Daimyô residences stretched out to the west, from the castle of the

shogun, Japan’s supreme military ruler, into the hills, and structured the

territory: they formed clusters together with commoner houses which continued

along the main roads leading to the castle. The area in between was

mostly filled with rice paddies and tea plantations [Fig. 5.5]. The largest

residence in the area belonged to the Naitô Clan in the southeast of Shinjuku.

In the area of today’s Shinjuku Station’s east exit, the Naruse Clan

and the Owari Clan, a branch of the Tokugawa Family, had their residences.

The residences of the Matsudaira Clan, the Akimoto Clan, the Kyôkoku

Clan, and the Manabe Clan were located in the west [Fig. 5.6]. The Daimyô

residences are still visible in the urban structure of Shinjuku today: the site

of the Naitô Clan’s residence became Shinjuku Gyôen, a 58.3-hectare park

in the heart of the city, while the former Kyôkoku Clan and Manabe Clan

residences are part of today’s West Shinjuku development.


Fig. 5.5 A map of Shinjuku in 1885 shows the Ome Kaidô running from east to northwest, the

Kôshû Kaidô running from east to southwest and the first trainlines running north-south

The city of Tokyo constructed one of the country’s first water purification

plants in 1898 on the grounds of the former Kyôkoku Clan and Manabe

Clan residences: the Yodobashi Purification Plant was a large area containing

water basins, providing the grid structure for today’s urban blocks [Fig. 5.7].

The first train line ran through Shinjuku in 1885, connecting Akabane in the

north and Shinagawa in the south. The station grew rapidly, with numerous

lines starting and ending in Shinjuku. By 1923, four lines ran through Shinjuku

(Yamanote Line, Chuo Line, Keio Line, Odakyu Line), and two more

had been added by the start of World War II (Seibu Lines). The lines either

connected Shinjuku with other places in the central area, or with the rapidly

expanding residential area in the west. Until the early nineteenth century,

new buildings were developed along the arterial roads leading to the station.

The western side of the train tracks of the Yamanote Loop Line, the area of

the water purification plant, was still considered “outside” of the city.

In 1933, the famous Isetan Department Store opened its doors on

the eastern side of Shinjuku. It was located along the main street, Ôdori,

in direct view of the station. Along with Takashimaya in the Ginza area,

Isetan was one of the biggest department stores that stocked the largest

variety of high-end products at the time. Other retail facilities soon followed

along Ôdori, making the east side of Shinjuku a popular shopping destination

before the war. There, the latest trends were on display and people

would come to window shop, buy, and stroll along the streets [Fig. 5.8].

With the rapid extension of the city after the war, Shinjuku became

an increasingly important transport hub: the number of passengers taking

Japan Rail (JR) trains (Chuo Line and Yamanote Line) rose from 5,000

237 Production of Differences on the Neighborhood Scale


↑ Passers-by taking pictures of a man and his cat in a café on the north side of Shimokitazawa, 2010

↓ Live concert of local band Elekibass in one of Shimokitazawa’s many music clubs, 2013


Differences endure or arise on the margins of the homogenized realm,

either in the form of resistances or in the form of externalities …

Sooner or later, however, the existing centre and the forces of homogenization

must seek to absorb all such differences … (Lefebvre 1991,

373) apple What the center denies—that is to say, what it cannot incorporate—remains

confined to the margins “outside” its purview of

dominance. (Shmuely 2008, 218)25

Shimokitazawa is a neighborhood in the southwest of Tokyo, located

just outside the Yamanote Line, the central loop line. It is close to Shibuya,

a commercial and entertainment centrality for the youth of Tokyo, and

Shinjuku, a major business, commercial, and entertainment centrality and

the seat of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Over the past three decades,

Shimokitazawa has transformed from an intimate local neighborhood,

known for its music and theater scene, into a destination for people

from all over the region seeking a particular urban experience.

Shimokitazawa is located within the area that is described as Tôkaidô

configuration map. It is part of the Setagaya Ward, the second largest of

the twenty-three special wards in the prefecture of Tokyo, and has a population

of approximately 17,000. Situated at the intersection of the Odakyu

and Keio Inokashira Lines, Shimokitazawa is an important node of one of

the many commuter belts stretching out from the central area into the

surrounding region. Shimokitazawa and its environs are covered with two

to three-story detached family houses, interspersed by higher built-up commercial

clusters and larger housing blocks in proximity to train stations.

For the purpose of this research, I looked at an area around Shimokitazawa

Station with a radius of about 500 meters. First, I will look at the

pathway of Shimokitazawa in order to understand the production of its

urban condition. Moments in its development trajectory are to be analyzed

and interpreted as decisive for the production of differences. Second, I will

look at particular aspects of the production of differences and reproduction,

namely, the process of incorporation of differences.

Offside Dominant Centralities

During the Edo Period (1603–1868), the area that is now Shimokitazawa

was agricultural land under the administration of feudal lords. The

gradual urbanization of the area began with the modernization of the

country in the late nineteenth century. Today’s neighborhood developed

from the top of the hill in the north, down to the Kitazawa River and the

Shrine of Kitazawa Hachiman in the south. In 1878, the Komaba School

of Agriculture was founded in the east of Shimokitazawa (today’s Komaba

261 Production of Differences on the Neighborhood Scale




I trust that, despite all that has been written in the meantime, there is

still something left to say. (Waley 1991, 7)1

Using the case of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex, this study explores

the concept of the production of differences as an approach to understanding

urban space and urbanization processes within a larger region. I have recognized

space as a social product and differences as key elements, driving forces,

and outcomes of spatial production processes. Looking beyond labels such

as “vibrant,” “diverse,” or “heterogeneous,” and instead examining an urban

condition through its differences production enables us to draw a more

nuanced portrait of the city. Furthermore, taking the production of differences

as a line of inquiry allows to challenge established concepts of differences

based on gender, class, race, economic conditions, and ethnicity as primary

productive agents for distinct urban qualities. Manifested within the everyday

life as much as in global ambitions, the concept of differences has also enabled

me to examine an urban region from various angles which form a comprehensive

reading of various, interdependent processes defining the city.

In order to create this unconventional portrait of Tokyo I set out to

apple Develop a general conceptual research approach using the production

of differences, which surpasses established and normative definitions


of difference

Apply this concept to the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex in order to

obtain a comprehensive understanding of the region and capture its

specific urban condition

Lefebvre's conceptualization of space and his understanding of difference

is supporting the frame(work) for this portrait and conceptual

approach. I identified several notable gaps within presiding discourses,

namely assumptions regarding preconditions and differences, and a lack

of reference to production, reproduction, and a culturally specific understanding

of their manifestations (especially in Lefebvre’s work). I discussed

a set of keywords that I consider vital in conceptualizing the production of

differences with respect to the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex. With a periodization

of the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex I identified its main periods

of spatial production in a multilinear analysis to understand their relevance

for and impact on the urbanization processes of the urban region today.

This periodization functioned like sketch in the beginning of a portrait,

determining the vanishing point of the composition.

The urban configurations mapped out on top of this sketch worked

like a primer in any oil painting and organized the canvas into different

territorial entities. The different urbanization processes analyzed here also

provided a first layer of detailed observations which are based on extensive

fieldwork in Tokyo between 2011 and 2015. Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa, and

Kitamoto which substantiate the narratives of differences production on the

309 Conclusion

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