In 1854, American navy ships under Commodore Matthew Perry appeared off the shores of Japan and pressured the formerly secluded nation into accepting a treaty that included opening some ports to American ships and the beginning of trading (Reischauer and Craig 1989).
With this opening to outside influences, Japanese professionals began to study, among other subjects, modernizing European and American cities in search of models to implement at home (Hein and Ishida 1998). When they applied new principles, Japanese practitioners tweaked the original ideas to make them fit their own changing cultural backgrounds, local needs, experiences, and practice. One element in their particular reading of foreign form was and continues to be their understanding of urban space in terms of neighbourhoods and small towns, both of which are called machi in Japanese. The word itself captures themes in national and local identity and different perspectives on urban living, density, and transportation, and evokes—at least in some of its meanings—specific socioeconomic structures and urban development. As machi appears to be a foundation of Japanese urban thought, a closer look at the term and its multiple meanings may well be useful to foreign observers and scholars
interested in Japanese planning, urban form, and thought.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHeritage, History and Design Between East and West
Subtitle of host publicationA Close-Up on Kyoto’s Urban Fabric
EditorsMarie-Therese van Thoor, Sara Stroux
PublisherDelft University of Technology
ISBN (Print)978-94-6366-028-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 50166870