Several classes at the beginning of the Metropolitan Tokyo course I teach at TUJ are dedicated to establishing a context for analyzing the Japanese capital. I comment on these lectures after the jump.
I have been teaching at Temple University’s Japan campus for more than a year now and still haven’t written anything on this blog here to reflect on this amazing experience. This shall now change with some thoughts on the most recent course I teach called “Metropolitan Tokyo”.
TUJ’s Azabu Campus
Comparisons across cities are notoriously hard. For one, data availability is a huge problem given our methodological bias on the nation state. But there is also the problem on how we delineate municipalities. Nonetheless, I found this graph on city size and inequality very interesting.
Click here for original
One of the first ideas to come out of writing this blog was to edit a book about Tokyo’s postwar architecture. It’s been several years since and I am wondering how I would go about a book on this or a similar topic now, almost five years later.
A few weeks ago I discussed the concept of “Tokyo as a slum” and how apt it is to describe living conditions in the postwar period. This is important if we are to glean how useful Tokyo’s experience is to today’s emerging megacities. A more fitting description, I found, may be that of “shared space poverty”. I took a good look at the 1963 Housing Survey for data to support that line of thinking.
1963 construction on the Metropolitan Expressway (photo source)
I have been wading through historical budget data for the 23 wards here in Tokyo. To many, nothing could be more dry. However, I think that understanding public finance in the first megacity holds an important key in explaining the city’s success.
Tokyo as seen from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
I re-read Matias’s and Rahul’s article on “When Tokyo Was A Slum” on Next City. It makes a good qualitative case as to why the city’s incremental, unplanned growth post-WWII may hold lessons for today’s developing cities. I looked for some quantitative substantiation of their claim that indeed Tokyo was a slum. Here is what I dug up.
Meguro-ku, seen from Town Hall
…goes the title of a relatively old paper by Professor David Flath, who teaches economics at Ritsumeikan University these days. As I study Tokyo’s postwar history and, as part of that, am interested in the density of retail stores, it’s worth summing up the main points and adding a few more thoughts. The high density of retail is a phenomenon that despite several years of de-densification stays roughly intact today.
Evening conbini scene, Nakano-ku