Paving Power: Western Urban Planning and Imperial Space from the Streets of Meiji Tokyo to Colonial Seoul

TitlePaving Power: Western Urban Planning and Imperial Space from the Streets of Meiji Tokyo to Colonial Seoul
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGrunow, TR
JournalJournal of Urban History
Volume42
Issue3
Start Page506
Pagination506-556
Abstract

This article examines street improvement projects in Tokyo and Seoul as case studies for tracing the active participation of Japanese urban planners in the global flow of urban planning concepts and technologies from the West to Japan, and then from Japan to Asia. Striving to recreate Tokyo as the “greatest capital in East Asia,” Japanese planners in the mid-Meiji Period envisioned improvement projects that, while adapted to meet local needs, exhibited a striking similarity with the primary concerns of contemporary “modern” Western planning ideas. Moreover, Japanese planners acted as transmitters of Western planning as these imported ideas and practices adapted in Tokyo in the 1880s were then exported to Korea along with Japanese imperialism in the early 1900s as planners sought to refashion Seoul as a suitable colonial capital to assert Japanese cultural hegemony. Street improvement projects in both cities provide tangible examples highlighting this technical innovation and conceptual diffusion overseas.