Columbia University

TOKYO: History, Form, and Spirit
(History-Japan W4850)

FALL 1998

Instructor: Henry Smith (email: hds2; off: 412 Kent, x4-5033; msg: 854-5027)
Time and place: Friday, 9-12 am, 607 Hamilton Hall

Description: An exploration of the built form of the city of Edo-Tokyo over the past 400 years, looking at buildings, landscape, urban form, networks and circuits, and symbols and meaning. We will proceed within a rough historical framework, but always trying to place Edo-Tokyo within larger patterns both within Japan and in comparison with other cities in the world. Given the paucity of good secondary materials in English on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo, we will use as much as possible various forms of representation of the city, including maps, screen paintings, prints, photographs, film, novels, and essays. The exact themes and readings will be tailored to the interests and language abilities of those in the seminar. Like Tokyo itself, the course will be a work in progress. 

Course requirements:

1) Regular attendance and participation in class discussion, with periodic individual reports on specific issues;

2) Occasional short papers and class presentations (probably about 3-4 per member of the class, depending on logistics), plus one final project dealing with any aspect of Edo-Tokyo in historical context.

Books available for purchase:

The following are available for purchase at Labyrinth Books; only the first two are listed as required, and the rest are recommended only if you are interested.

Seidensticker, Edward, Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake (Knopf, 1983).

Seidensticker, Edward, Tokyo Rising: The City Since the Great Earthquake (Knopf, 1990).

McClain, James, et al., eds., Edo and Paris: Urban Life and the State in the Early Modern Era (Cornell University Press, 1994).

Theodore Bestor, Neighborhood Tokyo (Stanford University Press, 1989).

Roman Cybriwsky, Tokyo--The Shogun's City at the Twenty-First Century. John Wiley & Sons, 1998.

In addition, there are four very interesting books that I felt were simply too expensive or non-historical to place on order at the bookstore, but which I would urge for the consideration of those with a special interest, namely:
Berque, Augustin, Cities and Social Bonds (Pilkington Press, 1997). Published in England, and hard to get in this country, although it can be ordered for $60. A very French sort of approach to the Japanese city, certainly the most interesting theoretical writing on the issue, and closely geared to architectural issues, by a leading scholar of Japanese geography.

Bognar, Botund, Tokyo. (John Wiley & Sons, 1997). $85.50. A lavish picture book focusing on recent architecture in Tokyo, includes some useful short articles.

Jinnai, Hidenobu, Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology, trans. Kimiko Nakamura (Univ. of California Press, 1995). An important and provocative book on historical aspects of urban space in Tokyo, particularly on survivals from Edo; it is a translation from the Japanese original, Tôkyô no kûkan jinruigaku. Unfortunately, it is available only in hardback at $45, but it is worth it to those interested. 

Popham, Peter, Tokyo: The City at the End of the World (Kodansha, 1985). [Out of print as of 2004, but easily available used, from $10-$15). A readable and perceptive critique of contemporary Tokyo by an English architecture critic.

Film Series:

There will be a weekly film series this fall of Japanese films that deal with urban life and social change in modern Japan. These have been chosen specifically to meet the needs of two separate courses, this one on Tokyo and Prof. Carol Gluck's course on "Social Change Reflected in the Literature and Films of Modern Japan." The eight films in the series that are relevant to this course are as follows; note that session 10 (Nov. 13) will be devoted specifically to four of the films shown in this series.  The films will be shown on Wednesday nights in Altschul Auditorium:.  In addition, Tokyo Ga (1986) by the German director Wim Wenders will be made available on videotape; it was filmed in spring 1983. 

Sept. 16: "Eijanaika" [Imamura, 1981]
Sept. 23: "The Mistress" (Gan) [Toyoda, 1953]
Oct. 7: "I Was Born But . . ." (Umarete wa mita keredo) [Ozu, 1932]
Oct. 28: "Stray Dog" (Nora-inu) [Kurosawa, 1949]
Nov. 4: "Tokyo Story" (Tôkyô monogatari) [Ozu, 1953]
Nov. 11: "Street of Shame" (Akasen chitai) [Mizoguchi, 1956]
Nov. 23: "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" (Onna ga kaidan o agaru toki) [Naruse, 1960]
Dec. 2:  "Family Game" (Kazoku gemu) [Morita, 1983].




WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Sept. 16: "Eijanaika" [Imamura, 1981]

Background reading for those with no preparation in Japanese history:

Edwin Reischauer and Albert Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), ch. 3: "Tokugawa Japan: A Centralized Feudal State" (pp. 73-115) [East Asia: ch. 15, pp. 392-434].
Exercise: Explore the Web for sites that might be useful to this course, and come up with at least one that you can pass on to others.

Some general reading on conceptual matters:

Nitschke, Gunter, "Ma: Place, Space, and Void," Kyoto Journal, no. 8 (Fall 1988), pp. 33-39. 

Augustin Berque, Cities and Social Bonds (Pilkington Press, 1997), chs. 1-2 (pp. 13-70).

Henry D. Smith II, "Tokyo and London: Comparative Conceptions of the City," in Albert Craig, ed., Japan: A Comparative View (Princeton University Press, 1979), pp. 45-99.

Henry Smith, "Sky and Water: The Deep Structures of Tokyo," in Mildred Friedman, ed., Tokyo: Form and Spirit, pp. 21-35.

Maki, Fumihiko, "The City and Inner Space," Japan Echo 6/1 (1979), pp. 91-103.

On the history of traditional cities and the planning of Edo:
John W. Hall, "Kyoto as Historical Background," in John W. Hall and Jeffrey P. Mass, eds., Medieval Japan: Essays in Institutional History (Yale Univ. Press, 1974), pp. 3-27.

John W. Hall, "The Castle Town and Japan's Modern Urbanization," in John W. Hall and Marius Jansen, eds., Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan (Princeton UP, 1968), pp. 169-188.


WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Sept. 23: "The Mistress" (Gan) [Toyoda, 1953]

Primary materials:

Traditional maps of Edo (-ezu "large maps" and kiri-ezu "section maps"). [To be posted in Rare Book Room.]
Secondary readings:
William H. Coaldrake, "Edo Architecture and Tokugawa Law," Monumenta Nipponica 36/3 (Autumn 1981), pp. 239-253.

Naito, Akira, "Planning and Development of Early Edo," Japan Echo, vol. 14 (1987). Reserve: DS801 .J263 Vol. 14

Henry D. Smith II, "The Floating World in Its Edo Locale, 1750-1850." In Donald Jenkins, ed., The Floating World Revisited (Portland Art Museum, 1993), pp. 25-45.

James McClain et al., eds., Edo and Paris: Urban Life and the State in the Early Modern Era (Cornell University Press, 1994): Katô, Takashi, "Governing Edo," 41-67; Hatano, Jun. "Edo's Water Supply," 234-50; Takeuchi, Makoto, "Festivals and Fights: The Law and the People of Edo," 384-406; Anne Walthall, "Edo Riots," 407-28. Reserve: DS896.62 .E34 1994]

Gilbert Rozman, "Edo's Importance in [the] Changing Tokugawa Society," Journal of Japanese Studies 1/1 (Autumn 1974), pp. 91-112. 



Hidenobu Jinnai, "The Spatial Structure of Edo," in Nakane and Oishi, eds., Tokugawa Japan (Univ. of Tokyo Press, 1990), pp. 124-146. Reserve: DS871 .T527 1990

Henry D. Smith II, Hiroshige, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Braziller, 1986). Reserve: NE1325 .A5 A4 1986; another copy will be placed on the Smith reserve shelf. Read: Introduction (pp. 9-16), pls. 1-4, 7-8. 10-11, 17-19, 21-28, 37-38, 43-48, 55-62, 64-66, 73-77, 80-82, 86-87, 90, 98-101, 106-107, 111-115, 118.

Henry Smith, "Hiroshige in History." In Matthi Forrer, ed., Hiroshige: Prints and Drawings (London: Royal Academy of the Arts, and Munich and New York: Prestel, 1997), pp. 33-45. 

Exercise for everyone: 1) Make your own tourist map of Edo, to hand in at class time, using the data on the "famous places" (meisho) provided in Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. The map on p. 8 will give you something to start working with. Use your imagination. For those who can read Japanese, a copy of Henry Smith, Ukiyo-e ni miru Edo no meisho (Iwanami shoten, 1993) will be placed on the shelf. 2) Attach to your map a one-page answer to the question, "What is an Edo meisho?"

Background reading on the style and structure of Edo landscape prints:

In The Society for the Study of Japonisme, ed., Japonisme in Art--An International Symposium (Committee for the Year 2001, 1980): Narazaki, Muneshige, "Western Influence and the Revival of Tradition in Ukiyoe-e," pp. 313-322, and Sakamoto Mitsuru, "The Westernization of Ukiyo-e at the End of the Tokugawa Period," pp. 19-25. 

Screech, Timothy. "The Meaning of Western Perspective in Edo Popular Culture," Archives of Asian Art, vol. 47 (1994), pp. 58-69. 

Henry D. Smith II, "World Without Walls: Kuwagata Keisai's Panoramic Vision of Japan." In Gail Bernstein and Haruhiro Fukui, eds., Japan and the World--Essays on Japanese History and Politics in Honour of Ishida Takeshi (The Macmillan Press, London, 1988), pp. 3-19. 

The Architecture and Plan of the Theater and Pleasure Districts
Kazuo Nishi and Kazuo Hozumi, What is Japanese Architecture?, ppp. 124-127 (on the architecture of the). Reserve: NA1553 .N5713 .1985g
Special reports: 1) Kabuki theater architecture; 2) the plan and architecture of the Shin-Yoshiwara. This will require some ability in Japanese, but not too much; the basic materials are the sections in Smith, Ukiyo-e ni miru Edo no meisho, on the theater district (pp. 80-83), and the Shin-Yoshiwara (pp. 84-87), as well as the relevant prints in the Hiroshige series. For the Yoshiwara, see also de Becker, The Nightless City, on Smith reserve shelf.


WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Oct. 7: "I Was Born But . . ." (Umarete wa mita keredo) [Ozu, 1932]


For background on Shoin "style": Ito Teiji, "The Development of Shoin-Style Architecture," in John Hall and Toyoda Takeshi, eds., Japan in the Muromachi Age (Univ. of California Press, 1977), pp. 227-39. (You also might find useful: Kazuo Nishi and Kazuo Hozumi, What is Japanese Architecture?, pp. 70-77. Reserve: NA1553 .N5713 1985g)

William Coaldrake, Architecture and Authority in Japan (Routledge, 1996), chs. 5-8, especially pp. 129-37 (on early Edo Castle), pp. 163-80 (on the Taitokuin Mausoleum), and 193-207 (on gates).

Jinnai, Hidenobu, Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology, trans. Kimiko Nakamura (Univ. of California Press, 1995), pp. ix-65 (Preface, Introduction, and Ch. 1: "The High City: Surface and Depths"). Reserve: HT395 .J33 T62513 1995

Constantine Vaporis, "A Tour of Duty: Kurume hanshi Edo kinban nagaya emaki," Monumenta Nipponica, 51:3 (Autumn 1996), pp. 279-307. 

Constantine Vaporis, "Digging for Edo: Archaeology and Japan's Premodern Urban Past," Monumenta Nipponica, 53:1 (Spring 1998), pp. 73-104. 

Catalog of Fukagawa Edo Museum: both English and Japanese versions will be on the reserve shelf, together with other visualizations of Edo ura-nagaya.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Bring to class to hand in a short essay (500-1000 words, 1-2 pp single-spaced) comparing the approaches to the analysis of Edo urban and architectural space of any two (or more, if you wish) of the following: Coaldrake, Jinnai, Vaporis, and Fukagawa Edo Museum.

SPECIAL REPORTS (replaces writing assignment):

Edo Castle:
Nagaya tenements:


Henry D. Smith II, "The Edo-Tokyo Transition: In Search of Common Ground." In Marius Jansen and Gilbert Rozman, eds., Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji (Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 347-374. Book on regular reserve (DS881.4 .J36 1986).

Edward Seidensticker, Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), chs. 1-5 (pp. 3-251). Available for purchase at Labyrinth, and also on regular reserve (DS896.64 .S44 1983).

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Write a review of about 1000 words in length of the assigned chapters from Seidensticker's Low City, High City.


Visual Documents:

Photographs of Meiji Tokyo: 
1) Hyakunen mae no Nihon. Photos from the Peabody Museum of Salem, pp. 22-37. These have English captions for the photos.

2) Meiji no Yokohama-Tokyo. Book with a photo of the Grand Hotel (Yokohama) on the cover, pp. 33-64. English captions will be pencilled in.

3) Tôkyô sono mukashi. Small book with red cover and photo of boat. Will try to provide post-it captions for some of the most important photos.

Henry Smith, Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988), pp. 22-25, 32-51, 68-73, 102-3. You are also encouraged to take a look at the introduction (pp. 6-15) for general background on Kiyochika. 

Meiji Tôkyô meisho zue. Illustrations of Meiji Tokyo from Fûzoku gahô. Oblong book, with picture of pagoda on the cover. Will provide pencilled captions.

Secondary Readings:
Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Meiji Japan (University of California Press, 1996), chs. 2-3 [pp. 31-154] ("From Court in Motion to Imperial Capitals" and "Modern Imperial Pageantry"). Reserve: DS881.9 .J847 1996

Henry D. Smith II, "Tokyo as an Idea: An Exploration of Japanese Urban Thought Until 1945." Journal of Japanese Studies, IV, 1 (Winter 1978). pp. 45-80. For today, you need only read pp. 45-57, esp. pp. 53-57 (on Meiji until 1900).

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Choose a limited number of images--two or three should be enough--from the above prints and photographs (or from any other visual material on Meiji Tokyo that you may have access to) and discuss them to illuminate issues that emerge from the secondary reading assignment. The assignment, in other words, is to try to bring pictures and ideas together. You may also want to refer to last week's reading from Seidensticker and Smith.


WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Oct. 28: "Stray Dog" (Nora-inu) [Kurosawa, 1949]

Short Stories:

Higuchi Ichiyô, Takekurabe (Growing Up), 1895-6. 

Nagai Kafû, Sumidagawa (The River Sumida), 1909. In Edward Seidensticker, Kafû the Scribbler: The Life and Writings of Nagai Kafû, 1879-1959 (Stanford Univ. Press, 1969), pp. 181-218. Also try to read chs. 1-3 (pp. 3-52), an account of Kafû's life until the writing of Sumidagawa

Secondary reading:
Paul Anderer, "Tokyo and the Borders of Modern Japanese Fiction," in Visions of the Modern City, eds.Wiliam Sharpe and Leonard Wallock (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), pp. 220-231. 

Maeda Ai, "The Spirits of Abandoned Gardens," translated by William F. Sibley, in Studies in Modern Japanese Literature: Essays and Translations in Honor of Edwin McClellan, eds. Dennis Washburn and Alan Tansman (Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 1997), pp. 397-410. 

Optional: Maeda Ai, "The Panorama of Enlightenment." DRAFT translation by Henry Smith. 

NOTE: Maeda Ai (1932-87) was a scholar of Japanese literature at Waseda University who wrote pioneering essays in the 1970s on urban space in modern Japanese literature, most of which were collected in his Toshi kûkan no naka no bungaku (Literature Within Urban Space, 1982). The above are translations of two of these essays. Note also that on Saturday, November 7, a conference will be held at Cornell University in honor of the work of Maeda Ai; see below for further information.

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: Prepare a one-page proposal for your final project for the course, to be presented orally in class. Be sure to include relevant bibliography and/or source material.


WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Nov. 4: "Tokyo Story" (Tôkyô monogatari) [Ozu, 1953]

General background:

Seidensticker, Low City, High City, ch. 5: "The Taishô Look" (pp. 252-286). Reserve: DS896.64 .S44 1983.

Edward Seidensticker, Tokyo Rising: The City Since the Great Earthquake, chapters 1 ("The Days After") and 2 ("Happy Reconstruction Days"), pp. 3-87. Available at Labyrinth bookstore, also copy on regular reserve.

Novels:  Read one of the following two novels, and write a short paper comparing it with one of the two short stories read last week; it would probably make most sense to compare Sanshiro with "The River Sumida" and Naomi with "Growing Up," but the choice is yours.
Natsume Sôseki, Sanshirô (1908). Trans. Jay Rubin (Univ. of Tokyo Press, 1977). Reserve: PL812 .A8 S313. For background, see William Burton, "The Image of Tokyo in Soseki's Fiction," in The Japanese City, eds. P. P. Karan and Kristin Stapleton (The University Press of Kentucky, 1997), pp. 221-241. 

Tanizaki Jun'ichirô, Naomi (Chijin no ai, 1924-25). Trans. Anthony Chambers (North Point Press, 1990). Available from for $9.60. Also Reserve: PL839 .A7 C513 1985

Optional secondary reading:
Miriam Silverberg, "Constructing the Japanese Ethnography of Modernity," Journal of Asian Studies, 51/1 (February 1992), pp. 30-54. 

Miriam Silverberg, "Constructing a New Cultural History of Prewar Japan," in Japan and the World, eds., Masao Miyoshi and H. D. Harootunian (Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 115-144 (esp. section on "Tokyo Learning," pp. 131-37). 


WEDNESDAY FILM SERIES: Nov. 11: Street of Shame (Akasen chitai) [Mizoguchi, 1956]

General background:

Edward Seidensticker, Tokyo Rising: The City Since the Great Earthquake, chapters 3 ("Darker Days") and 4 ("The Day of Cod and the Sweet Potato"), pp. 88-225. Available at Labyrinth bookstore, also copy on regular reserve.

Please make an effort to see all of the following four films; two have already been shown in the Wednesday night series, another will be shown the Wednesday before the class, and the last will be on Nov. 23, so you will have to watch it on videotape. 

"Stray Dog" (Nora-inu) [Kurosawa, 1949] (Shown Oct. 28)

"Tokyo Story" (Tôkyô monogatari) [Ozu, 1953] (Shown Nov. 4)

"Street of Shame" (Akasen chitai) [Mizoguchi, 1956] (To be shown Nov. 11)

"When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" (Onna ga kaidan o agaru toki) [Naruse, 1960] (To be shown Monday, Nov. 23)

Written assignment:  Write a short paper discussing the urban dimension of at least two of the films above, within the context of the history of postwar Tokyo.


Common readings: 

Sally Ann Hastings, Neighborhood and Nation in Tokyo, 1905-37 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995), ch. 3: "Residents Leading Residents," pp. 69-96. 

R. P. Dore, City Life in Japan--A Study of a Tokyo Ward (University of California Press, 1958), pp. 1-53, 253-87, 295-311. Reserve: HT147 .J3 D6.

Theodore Bestor, "Traditionalism and Identity in a Tokyo Neighborhood," in George Gmelch and Walter Zenner, eds. Urban Life: Readings in Urban Anthropology (Waveland Press, 198?), pp. 424-434. 

DISCUSSION LEADERS: Each member of the class should select one of the following three books, and go beyond the common readings that have been assigned above in order to think about the study as a whole, and what it tells us about the history of Tokyo.
Hastings, Neighborhood and Nation in Tokyo.

Dore, City Life in Japan.

Bestor, Neighborhood Tokyo (Stanford University Press, 1989; on regular reserve, HT147 .J3 B45 1989).

PROGRESS REPORTS: Be prepare to give a very brief progress report on your final project.

[Nov. 27: No Class: THANKSGIVING]


Visual materials:

Morita, dir., Family Game [Kazoku gemu], 1983. In Wednesday night film series, on December 2, 6:30 pm, Altschul Auditorium.

Wim Wenders, Tokyo Ga (Germany, 1986). 90 minutes, filmed in spring 1983. Videotape available in library.

Written materials:
Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs [L'Empire des signes, 1970], trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), pp. 30-42. 

Richards. J. M., "Lessons from the Japanese Jungle," in Gwen Bell and Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Human Identity in the Urban Environment (Penguin Books, 1972), pp. 590-594. 

Peter Gluck and Henry Smith, "Shinjuku," A+U: Kenchiku to toshi [Architecture and Urbanism], August, 1973. pp. 132-156. 

Peter Popham, Tokyo: The City at the End of the World (Kodansha, 1985), pp. 35-49. 

ASSIGNMENT: Please read at least TWO of the four written items listed above (taking at least a glance at the whole book in the case of Barthes and Popham), and see at least ONE of the visual items (the Wednesday night film or the Wim Wenders film). Be prepared to lead a discussion about any of the items you selected.



A: Tokyo Renaissance and the Edo-Tokyo Museum

Jordan Sand, "Monuments to the Everyday at the Edo-Tokyo Museum: A Critical Walk" (unpublished essay)

Mikako Iwatake, "The Tokyo Renaissance: Constructing a Postmodern Identity in Contemporary Japan," (PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1993).

B: Bubble Architecture: Edo-Tokyo Museum and New City Hall


A: Tokyo in Western Film and Science Fiction

William Gibson's Neuromancer; the film Blade Runner; etc.
B: Tokyo in Anime
The following films are really just some examples that come to mind, from among the limited archive that is available at normal American video rental stores; many others could have been used, and if you know of any, please report. The following are not specifically about Tokyo in any particular way, but Tokyo is an implicit or explicit condition and/or metaphor in most of them.
Bubblegum Crisis (1987 ff)

Akira (1988)

Patlabor (1989 ff)