- The Association of Japanese Geographers
- 地理学評論 (ISSN:13479555)
- vol.81, no.5, pp.262-278, 2008-05-31 (Released:2010-03-12)
The aim of this article is to examine recent research trends in urban geography in Japan. For this purpose, papers from five major academic journals on geography were reviewed. It has been found that the number of articles on urban geography increased consistently in Japan after World War II, reaching a peak in the 1980s. Although the number decreased somewhat in the 1990s, it is again increasing in the 21st century. Trends in these articles may be summarized as follows: 1) a decrease in studies that examine cities as a single point; 2) an increase in studies that examine cities as an area; 3) an increase in studies that analyze urban functions; 4) a decrease in studies that use quantitative techniques; 5) an increase in studies that focus on humans themselves; and 6) an increase in studies that deviate from traditional categories. Another important point is that there have come to be a greater number of studies that examine some aspect “in cities” than studies “of cities.” A change in the writing style of research reports is also seen. Human agency continues to be a problem taken up in studies of urban geography. In the past, few papers quoted from people directly, whereas today this way of writing is not uncommon. In addition, nowadays there are also articles that directly quote individual opinions and judgments. From the above, recent urban geography may be summarized as having an increasing number of studies that view cities as areas, which serve as the field for examinations of urban functions, people's lives, or social groups, and that emphasize direct voices and narration. The influences of humanistic geography can be seen in the background. However, with excessive focus on urban functions or humans themselves, we run the risk of “not being able to see the forest for the trees.” It should also be pointed out that a writing style which relies too much on direct quotes or narration risks the identity of urban geography.