Tokyo: An Urban Portrait – Looking at a Megacity Through Its Differences
Naomi C. Hanakata
Tokyo’s seemingly endless sea of buildings has grown incrementally over the past centuries, leading to an urban condition that is both coherent and contradictory at the same time. The understanding of Tokyo as a continuous and interdependent urban complex is a much-neglected perspective in previous readings of the city. An attachment to the land, strong civic commitment, and a deep appreciation of the immaterial has produced a nested megastructure of smaller communities. These places have all evolved in a related way, briefly and temporarily disrupted by earthquakes and a devastating war. Over time, a set of distinct urban patterns emerged through centralization processes, the “manshon urbanization,” the relocation of various types of manufacturing, and other developments. What might appear homogeneous in composition and rhythm is in fact a configuration of distinctly different spaces, created by the routines of everyday life that make the district of Shinjuku different from Shimokitazawa or Kitamoto. This book not only provides the first comprehensive reading of the many urbanization processes shaping Tokyo today, but also seeks an entirely new approach for looking at megacity regions: through their differences, and the way those differences are are produced in the course of everyday life.