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Finding space for flowing water in Japan's densely populated landscapes

Waley, PT and Aberg, EU (2011) Finding space for flowing water in Japan's densely populated landscapes. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 43 (10). 2321 - 2336 . ISSN 0308-518X


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Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a4489


With its rapidly flowing rivers and plentiful summer rainfall, 20th-century Japan has a history of frequent flooding. The effects on its densely populated flood plains have often been devastating. Japan also has one of the world's landscapes most heavily covered in concrete. In recent decades, however, the Japanese state has turned hesitantly to new techniques of releasing of water into the sea buttressed by a concern for ecological well-being. Its 'nature-oriented' river landscaping programme is an attempt to find a more sustainable balance between flowing water and the built terrain, allowing water to make space for itself. Our paper sets this programme in its historical context, relating it back to the premodern period and juxtaposing it to prevalent modernist 20th-century practice. Throughout this paper, we focus on the interweaving of discourse and practice, drawing attention to the 'idiom' of river landscaping as well as to the role of the state in defining this idiom. We argue that a sort of reconciliation is occurring between the contrasting discourses and practices of 'hard' and 'green' engineers.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2011 Pion. This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in Environment and Planning A. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2012 16:13
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:36
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/a4489
Status: Published
Publisher: Pion
Identification Number: 10.1068/a4489
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43592

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