Tokyo Roji: The Diversity and Versatility of Alleys in a City in Transition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Tokyo Roji

The Diversity and Versatility of Alleys in a City in Transition, 1st Edition

By Heide Imai


196 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367140991
pub: 2019-01-17
Hardback: 9781138949102
pub: 2017-11-21
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315669281
pub: 2017-11-22
from $24.98

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The Japanese urban alleyway, which was once part of people’s personal spatial sphere and everyday life has been transformed by diverse and competing interests. Marginalised through the emergence of new forms of housing and public spaces, re-appropriated by different fields, and re-invented by the contemporary urban design discourse, the social meaning attached to the roji is being re-interpreted by individuals, subcultures and new social movements. The book will introduce and discuss examples of urban practices which take place within the dynamic urban landscape of contemporary Tokyo to portray the life cycle of an urban form being rediscovered, commodified and lost as physical space.


"Heide Imai evokes the subtle complexity of Tokyo’s traditional back streets in a way that resonates with all cities struggling to be simultaneously local, global, and modern. This book is tremendously useful for shaping a deeper understanding of, and better tools for, historic preservation and community planning in Asia and throughout the world."

Sharon Zukin, author, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

‘By emphasizing on the importance of the sense of place and the ordinariness, this book takes the readers to the roji of contemporary Tokyo. Using multiple insightful urban narratives, Heide Imai skilfully unfolds the various facets of neighbourhoods of these hidden urban spaces.’

Davisi Boontharm, International Program of Architecture and Urban Design, Meiji University, Japan

Table of Contents

Foreword Hidenobu Jinnai



1. Tokyo and its Alleys

2. The Roji

3. The Yin and Yang of Tokyo - Nezu , Yanaka and The Mixed Used Roji

4. Between Geisha Town and Petit Paris - Kagurazaka and The Commercial(ized) Roji

5. Between Old Row Houses and Skyscrapers - Tsukudajima and the Residential Roji


About the Author

Heide Imai is Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies (GIS) at Hosei University and Research Associate at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Licensed as an architect, her research, teaching and practice focus is urban resistance, resilience and the future of vernacular landscapes in global cities.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design

The Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design series provides the reader with the latest scholarship in the field of planning and beyond. The series publishes international research covering spatial planning, regional planning, planning history, planning theory, communities, impact assessment, transport, sustainability and urban design. Building on Routledge’s history of academic rigor and cutting edge research, the series will contribute to the rapidly expanding literature in all areas of planning and urban design. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning