Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology

Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology

$45.00 $45.00

  • Release Date: 01 June, 1995
  • Used Price: $45.00
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Authors: Hidenobu Jinnai, Kimiko Nishimura

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Customer Rating: 4 of 5 (1 total reviews)

  • 4 starsStimulating, Yet Missing Something

    The imprint of Edo on Tokyo is deep according to the author, and while the buildings of that era have largely vanished, the spirit of Edo lives on in the imprint that Edo's urban design has left upon Tokyo's urban landscape. The author and his students took old maps of the city, scaled them to maps of the current city and set out to feel the spirit of the old city in the present.

    The feeling of the old city comes alive in these pages and yet at the same time this is a book that is missing something and a book where considerable addition can be made through subtraction.

    One of the books great revelations of this book is that Edo, and particularly the city of the low city, was a city of water and canals, a Venice of the East. As this reviewer lives in the low city surrounded by these same canals and frequently visits Venice, I have long had the same thought. The author's expostion on this line of inquiry is brilliant and yet, sadly, the author fails to make this one of the centerpieces of this book.

    Instead, there are numerous (and frequently condescending) references to other European cities that have no physical comparison to Tokyo in any way. The reason becomes clear as one continues through the book - Hidenobu somehow resents the artificial European influence on the Edo urban design that is modern Tokyo. Since the book was origially written in 1985, such expressions of cultural superiority are unsurprising. Does he feel the same way today?

    The book is further diminished by the belief that every new, large scale building crushes the spirit of Edo. In this the author lacks perspective for as the citizens of Edo altered the original landscape for their needs, so do the modern citizens of Tokyo for theirs. This lack of historical perspective diminishes the accomplishments of those in both the Meiji era as well as in the post-war era. In both eras, the city responded to the needs of the time and made changes that needed to be made.

    Because of this romanticism, the book is no guide to the future. It is however, a marvelous guide to the past and I look forward to using the book on future walks in the city. In the end, the book's flaws do not overshadow its clear vision of the old city.