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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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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
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10 John R. Clammer. Japan and Its Others: Globalization,
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11 John R. Clammer. Difference and Modernity: Social Theory
and Contemporary Japanese Society. Vol. 72. New York: Routledge,
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,
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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,
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
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
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,
55 Teresa de Lauretis. Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory,
Film, and Fiction. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University
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,
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
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,
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
106 Fincher and Jacobs, Cities of Difference, 6.
65 Differences in Tokyo
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
PRODUCTION OF A DOMINANT CENTRALITY
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.
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
IMPLOSION OF A REGION
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
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
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
OLD INDUSTRIAL URBANIZATION
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
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 AND INCORPORATION: SHIMOKITAZAWA
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
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
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