Incorporation of Urban Differences in the Tokyo Metropolitan Complex

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:00 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Naomi Clara HANAKATA , Federal Institute of Technology, Singapore, Singapore
Differences mark an essential element of urbanity. In the case of Tôkyô, differences seem to appear beyond significant income disparity, migrant or ethnic minorities. On the local scale differences create a finely grained, heterogeneous urban condition. This contribution asks, what are the modes and practise leading to an incorporation of these particular social and cultural elements, which give a locality certain irreplaceable urban qualities, into the dominant logics of space production.

I will investigate the process of incorporation by looking at two case studies: Shimokitazawa and Kitamoto. In Shimokitazawa accumulated efforts of citizens have produced a neighborhood with socio-spatial qualities contrasting those of the dominant centralities near by. An incorporation of these differences has been initiated by local magazines, tourism agencies, and ministries: differences produced in a incremental and bottom-up process have been turned into an attraction for people beyond Shimokitazawa and a mainstream compatible youth culture, whereby the space is being deprived of its experienced dimension. Kitamoto in the north of the city is struggling with an aging population, economic issues as well as questions of identity, similarly to other peripheral areas. Due to this change, its dependency on the central area of Tôkyô is transforming and demanding a new consciousness for place. This is leading to the emergence of an active production of differentiating elements in the city, driven by the local authorities and inhabitants: an intended commodification of local assents, such as the natural environment, seasonal changes or local goods is aiming at creating local, socio-cultural value and identity.

By looking at the incorporation of differences as part of a dialectical process of production of differences this paper aims at capturing the complexity of everyday life as a backbone of urban society. To achieve this, my research encompasses an open methodological approach and methods from different disciplines.