chapter  5
23 Pages

The city as home

Tokyo
WithRob Sullivan

In this chapter, the fifth, I examine the city as home. This investigation occurs on two fronts: one, the home in the city – i.e. the domestic home and how it is fitted within the topography of the city; and, two, the city in its entirety as a home. Tokyo is the city used as a model, and Haruki Murakami, Natsuo Kirino, Ryu Murakami, and Yukio Mishima are some of the writers referenced as we try to understand the idea of home as it is manifested in one of the most populated cities in the world. The home is very private in Tokyo while public space is very open and very crowded; this makes for a bifurcated sense of home, the private space of home very tightly guarded, on the one hand, the public space very freewheeling, on the other. There is another way in which Tokyo is split, and that is between the influence of the West and the influence of the East. Homes may have traditional Japanese elements adjacent to elements that are customarily associated with the West. Another thing that is concentrated on is this chapter is the ways in which the city as a whole comes to be viewed as home by its residents. In the case of Tokyo, victories and defeats in war both implanted a sense of home in the city, a sense of belonging. Successful economic performance has done the same thing, but so have sumo wrestling and baseball. As attendees at sporting events in stadiums and parks and as fans of athletic teams, people assemble en masse behind their team and thereby gain a sense of home. One last note: home should not be thought of as a “soft” concept, signifying nothing but happiness; home has a dark side, with abuse and incest part of the definitional terms signifying home.