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Roppongi Crossing

The Demise of a Tokyo Nightclub District and the Reshaping of a Global City

Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

Publication Year: 2011

For most of the latter half of the twentieth century, Roppongi was an enormously popular nightclub district that stood out from the other pleasure quarters of Tokyo for its mix of international entertainment and people. It was where Japanese and foreigners went to meet and play. With the crash of Japan’s bubble economy in the 1990s, however, the neighborhood declined, and it now has a reputation as perhaps Tokyo’s most dangerous district—a hotbed of illegal narcotics, prostitution, and other crimes. Its concentration of “bad foreigners,” many from China, Russia and Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia is thought to be the source of the trouble.

Roman Adrian Cybriwsky examines how Roppongi’s nighttime economy is now under siege by both heavy-handed police action and the conservative Japanese “construction state,” an alliance of large private builders and political interests with broad discretion to redevelop Tokyo. The construction state sees an opportunity to turn prime real estate into high-end residential and retail projects that will “clean up” the area and make Tokyo more competitive with Shanghai and other rising business centers in Asia.

Roppongi Crossing is a revealing ethnography of what is arguably the most dynamic district in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Based on extensive fieldwork, it looks at the interplay between the neighborhood’s nighttime rhythms; its emerging daytime economy of office towers and shopping malls; Japan’s ongoing internationalization and changing ethnic mix; and Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, the massive new construction projects now looming over the old playground.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Contents

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pp. ix-

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Preface

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pp. xv-

I did not set out to write a book about Roppongi; it just happened. I returned to Japan in 2001 soon after the death of my wife of nearly twenty-five years, looking for a change from my routines in hometown Philadelphia. I had...

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CHAPTER 1 Roppongi and the New Tokyo

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pp. 1-29

There are two interconnected stories in this book, one about the last years of Roppongi, a famous and controversial nightclub district in one of Tokyo's prestigious central neighborhoods, and the other about Tokyo itself...

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CHAPTER 2 Roppongi Context

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pp. 30-75

Perhaps the most enduring images of life in contemporary Tokyo are those of its notorious commutes to work. For millions of people each day, this is a journey by bus, train, or subway, sometimes all three combined plus...

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CHAPTER 3 Roppongi Rises

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pp. 76-102

In Tokyo, it is common for subdistricts of the city, major streets, key bridges, hillocks, slopes, and other bits of geography to have names that are instructive about local history. In Roppongi, which means "six trees...

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CHAPTER 4 Roppongi Rhythms, Recently

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pp. 103-151

Early in the morning, Roppongi belongs to the crows. At least that's the case on this June day during the crows' mating season. They are enormous crows, black as can be, with mastodonic beaks, strong, mean, and smart...

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CHAPTER 5 Roppongi Troubles

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pp. 152-197

The word is the colloquial Japanese word for "foreigner," and nowadays, most of the news that comes from Roppongi is bad news, mostly about crime, and very often about foreigner or gaijin crime. Many people think of...

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CHAPTER 6 Roppongi Remade

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pp. 198-247

I begin with a reminder that remaking Roppongi is not just about the cleanup of a misbehaving nightclub district; the backdrop is also about reforming how people live in Tokyo and setting a new, high standard for Japanese...

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CHAPTER 7 Roppongi Reflections

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pp. 248-266

In 1970, the Five Man Electrical Band wrote a song called "Signs" in which the lyrics complained that everywhere one looked, there were posted signs about what to do and what not to do in a particular area. Their...

Notes

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pp. 267-278

Glossary of Japanese Terms

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pp. 279-282

References

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pp. 283-294

Index

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pp. 295-


E-ISBN-13: 9780820339573
E-ISBN-10: 0820339571
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820338316
Print-ISBN-10: 0820338311

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 32 b&w photos, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation