Media Consume Tokyo: Television and Urban Place Since the Bubble

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Media Consume Tokyo: Television and Urban Place Since the Bubble

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Title: Media Consume Tokyo: Television and Urban Place Since the Bubble
Author: Bueno, Alex
Citation: Bueno, Alex. 2016. Media Consume Tokyo: Television and Urban Place Since the Bubble. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: Much has been made of the proliferation of fictions in the contemporary city, coming together under the hegemony of globalization to obliterate the particularities of place. The pervasiveness of media in daily life gives the impression of inescapability, and it appears impossible to conceive of the city in “traditional” physical terms. Among the nations of the so-called First World, Japan, the center of which is unquestionably the metropolis of Tokyo, has been at the fore of the social, economic and technological changes that revel in these fictions.

This dissertation is a critique of the culture of Tokyo of the last several decades. Following from the assumption that the city and mass media are inseparable, it examines the representations of urban places in television towards understanding how they function as part of urban development. It is thus an attempt at a history of urban culture incorporating both “concrete” and “virtual” forms of spatial practice, towards a unified understanding of the processes that create the contemporary city, with a particular focus on the role of corporations.

Two specific places in Tokyo that underwent large-scale development have had an exceptional presence in Japanese television: Odaiba and Akihabara. Limited to two types of television, what are known in Japan as “trendy dramas” and anime (animated cartoons), this dissertation examines the roles television programming had in creating or recreating the “placeness” of these two parts of Tokyo. It is separated into two parts for each location. Chapters one and three examine the historical background of each place alongside the media context that applies in each case, and chapters two and four demonstrate how television was used to advertise a particular image of each place.
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