SO 310 - Contemporary Urban Society in Japan

We will explore the nature of contemporary urban society and culture in Japan in a course structured from a spatial planning perspective, with each week featuring a category of urban space. The course sources from so-called machizukuri (community design), social sciences, and anthropology studies. By the end of the course students are expected to understand the social realities of Japan, spatial structures, organization of the living environment and the interaction of people with it. We will see how an often-overlooked social group – children - lies at the heart of urban community.

We will look into the origins and spatial characteristics of Japanese cities, the formation of cities through rural-urban migration, neighborhood organization, and urban social problems in Japan. We will trace the social change from the group and family consciousness interconnected with the local community to the individualized modern lifestyle.

The class is project-based with each student working on an urban studies project of their design and writing a final paper based on that. Classwork will be supplemented by excursions and observational sketching exercises.

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