Donnerstag, 27. April 2017, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Placing Tokyo

within an East Asian paradigm of gentrification

Paul Waley (University of Leeds)

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie, Seminarraum 1
Spitalgasse 2, Universitätscampus Hof 2, Eingang 2.4, 1090 Wien


Among the several debates that attempt to characterise urban change in Tokyo and Japan’s other largest cities, until quite recently gentrification has only made sporadic appearances. In this presentation, I ask why that should be and attempt to define gentrification by placing it within a comparative regional perspective. Gentrification is widely seen to be a global phenomenon today. In a recent contribution, I identified several different types of gentrification in East Asian cities, including gentrification based on heritage promotion, inner-city clearance programmes and gentrification through the construction of satellite cities on the urban edge. Despite a vertiginous degree and pace of change in Tokyo, gentrification processes in this city do not appear entirely to conform to these categories. Here I will identify locations within Tokyo that have experienced gentrification and suggest how they might best be conceptualized in relation to the broader categories I have defined for the East Asian region. This exercise in comparative urbanism at a regional level provides a conceptual berth for discussion of gentrification in Japanese cities. At the same time, it enriches our sense of the applicability of gentrification as a concept and term and our understanding of the forms of gentrification that are present in the world today.

Paul Waley is Senior Lecturer in East Asian Geography at the University of Leeds. His research grows out of a strong focus on specific geographical settings in East Asia. He has written extensively on the Shitamachi district of Tokyo, but more recently he has been involved in research projects in Nanjing, Shanghai and Kunming. Recent publications include: (2016) “Speaking gentrification in the languages of the Global East”, Urban Studies 53/3, 615–625; (2016; with Yanpeng Jiang and Sara Gonzalez): “Shanghai swings: the Hongqiao project and competitive urbanism in the Yangzi River Delta”, Environment and Planning A 48/10, 1928–1947; (2013) “Pencilling Tokyo into the map of neoliberal urbanism”, Cities 32, 43–50.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Japanologie und AAJ (Akademischer Arbeitskreis Japan)


Mag. Angela Kramer
Universität Wien
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie