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Tokyo: The Changing Profile of an Urban Giant Roman Cybriwsky. Macmillan, G.K. Hall, New York, 1991 Reviewed by DAVID H. KORNHAUSER Professor Emeritus of Geography and Asian Studies University of Hawaii, Honolulu 8840 S.W. Bomar Court, Tigard, OR 97223-6821 PROFESSOR ROMAN CYBRIWSKY is an urban geographer at Temple University but, despite his claim of meager foreknowledge, learned his lessons well during six years of living and working in Tokyo as head ofthePhiladelphiaschool’scampus in Japan. In 263 pages, there is enough information about Japan’s capital and the world’s largest city to allow the more unambitious to absorb vicarious experiences that could almost substitute for the energy and expense of an actual visit. The volume’s main purpose is a revelation of the contemporary scene. It also contains a review of Tokyo’s history, sociology, 121 122 APCG YEARBOOK • VOLUME 54 • 1992 economics, transportation, city planning, and virtually all important aspects of growth and development. For a self-styled novice in the study of Japanese culture, this is an impressive summary. The large amount of background information and the materials cited in the bibliography are more than adequate to give the reader many tools for a study in greater depth of Tokyo’s urban geography. Some might wish for other references or additional sources, but to this reviewer, the list is substantial and can hold its own with other compilations in English, where detailed, accurate references in urban geography are woefully few. The book, therefore, fills a needed niche and the reader is fortunate to have such a reference. Since the 1950s, American scholars and others interested in Japan have produced a reasonably large number ofEnglish-language articles and books on Tokyo, some of which (especially the work by Seidensticker (1983), on which Cybriwsky has frequently relied) are mentioned. Only a fraction of these is in geography and few speak with the authority ofthis volume, at least in the sense ofreflecting the views ofa conscientious, capable, trained geographer in the field. The format and layout appear standard. The book opens with an introduction and in the first two chapters covers important but limited aspects of the physical environment and the basic geographical elements. The author emphasizes the various natural disasters that have plagued the Kanto area since the minor port town of Edo was transformed in the late 16th century to become, in 1600, the main military stronghold and castle town of the new and greatest shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was the first and most importantin a family line offifteen successivesamuraichieftains tohold swayoverthecountry’s affairs until modernization was imposed by a junta of aristocrats in 1868. During these 268 years of enforced peace, Edo became what may have been the world’s first primate city, a topic explored in the text in terms of modem Tokyo but perhaps not envisioned for ancient Edo. Until atleast the mid-18th century, when the capitals ofthe West were relatively puny, Japan had the largest urban hierarchy in the KORNHAUSER: Review of Tokyo 123 world. For many decades there were dozens ofcities ofmore than ten thousand, three (Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto) with populations of more than half a million each, and several others such as Nagoya and Kanazawa, of one hundred thousand or more. After 1868, Tokyo (Edo renamed) continued to prosper, and in fact its in-migration has hampered other, healthier aspects of nationwide urban population growth. Tokyo has been not only the largest but the most vital Japanese city in every sense, foreven though Kyoto (Heian-Kyo) was the official capital from about 795 AD until the Tokugawa (Edo) Period ended in 1868, after 1600 Edo was the dominant city. Tokyo has not relinquished its ascendancy except in the decade after the Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and during the Second World War, when for only a few moments it was surpassed in population by Osaka. Osaka, as the center ofKansai and as Kanto’s rival urban region in the west, was a strong competitorbecause ofJapan’s preoccupation in the 1930s with China and East Asia. But by 1940, and especially in the postwar era this challenge from Osaka has faded and Tokyo has been in a class by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 121-128
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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