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Reviewed by:
  • Living Cities in Japan: Citizens' Movements, Machizukuri and Local Environments
  • Timothy S. George (bio)
Living Cities in Japan: Citizens' Movements, Machizukuri and Local Environments. Edited by André Sorensen and Carolin Funck. Nissan Institute/Routledge, London, 2007. xvii, 286 pages. $170.00.

André Sorensen of the University of Toronto and Carolin Funck of Hiroshima University have provided English-language readers with a valuable collection of essays on city planning and citizen activism. It will be of interest to scholars of urban planning and preservation, environmental issues, and citizen activism. Most of the authors are Japanese, and very little of their work has previously been available in English. Case studies make up the bulk of the book, which opens and closes with essays discussing the history, methodological and analytical approaches, and significance of machizukuri. As the editors note in their introductory essay, there is no single good English translation for machizukuri (literally "town-making"), partly because it is used to describe such a broad range of phenomena, and partly because there are many different terms in addition to machizukuri used for these phenomena. However, most of the authors in this collection use a relatively narrow, specific definition: processes by which citizens participate, or attempt to participate, in urban planning, particularly in the 1990s and since.

Sorensen and Funck open the book with a chapter that introduces the rest of the essays and provides an up-to-date survey of the literature, both for Japan and beyond, on three topics: city planning and sustainability, urban governance and management of shared spaces, and civic engagement in planning. Such a wide range of themes may promise more than a single collection of essays could possibly deliver. But by describing the central issues and debates in these varied fields, the editors offer readers a range of ways to approach the essays in this book and give suggestions for future studies. [End Page 228]

Part 1, "The Context of Managing Shared Spaces in Japan," begins with Watanabe Shun'ichi's essay on the intrusion of the "emerging paradigm" of machizukuri into the "old system" of toshi keikaku (city planning) from the 1950s to the 1980s. Sorensen then gives a historical institutionalist survey of governance of shared spaces in modern Japan, and Thomas Feldhoff offers a study of the road construction sector as a symbol of the "construction state" (doken kokka) and a major obstacle to citizen participation in planning. Watanabe's essay is particularly useful in that it introduces some of the classic examples of machizukuri: Sakae-Higashi in Nagoya in the 1950s and 1960s, and Maruyama and Mano in Kobe in the 1960s and 1970s.

Part 2, "The Practice of Machizukuri 'Community Making,' " begins with a survey by Ishida Yorifusa of machi-sodate (a term emphasizing social networking) in the Tokyo suburb of Den'en Toshi. This is an insider's story, as Ishida has lived in Den'en Toshi since 1967 and is both a scholar and a citizen activist there. His essay is followed by three case studies of machizukuri in Kobe, focusing mainly on the period since the 1995 earthquake, by Carolin Funck, Itō Atsuko, and Nunokawa Hiroshi.

Part 3, "Conflicts over Changing Places and Governance," includes a study by Asano Toshihisa of citizen efforts to protect water quality in Lake Kasumigaura north of Tokyo and Lakes Nakaumi and Shinji near the city of Matsue; Murayama Akito's description of attempts to protect and reinvigorate downtown Fukaya City in Saitama; Hashimoto Shizuka's explanation of why neighborhood associations are usually ineffective in machizukuri efforts; and a survey by Fujii Sayaka, Okata Jun'ichirō, and André Sorensen of the generally ineffective efforts by Tokyo citizens since the mid-1990s to prevent the construction of high-rise apartment buildings. The last of these essays describes opposition movements that have had little success other than forcing slight changes in plans for new manshon, mainly because of the recent relaxation of the Building Standards Law and the passage in 2002 of the Special Urban Renaissance Law, which has had the effect of weakening local control over new construction projects and streamlining the permitting process for builders.

The concluding chapter by Sorensen and Funck summarizes the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-4721
Print ISSN
0095-6848
Pages
pp. 228-231
Launched on MUSE
2009-01-15
Open Access
No
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