This book is based on the author’s 33 years of intensive fieldwork. It chronicles a major movement that shaped the preservation policy in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s, providing “thick descriptions” of preservationists that are not available anywhere else in English. It also provides clear answers to a series of pressing questions about preservationists: are they building-huggers, are they selfish and myopic home-owners, or are they merely obstacles to urban planning and urban renewal?
Since 1984, Saburo Horikawa, Professor of Sociology at Hosei University in Tokyo, has continuously studied the movement to preserve the Otaru Canal in Otaru, Japan. This book shows that the preservation movement was neither conservative nor an obstacle. Rather, the movement sought to promote changes in which the residents’ “place” would continue to be theirs. As such, the word “preservation” does not mean the prevention of growth and development, but rather its control. As is shown in this study, preservation allows for and can even promote change.
The original Japanese version of this book (published by the University of Tokyo Press) has won 3 major academic awards; most notably, “The Ishikawa Prize”, the highest award bestowed by the City Planning Institute of Japan. It is extremely unusual that a sociology book should receive such important recognition from the city planning discipline.