Down and Out in Negishi: Reclusion and Struggle in an Edo Suburb
Brecher, W. Puck
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As administratively ambiguous zones, suburbs in early modern Japan (1600â 1868) became favored as secluded sites conducive to self-reinvention. The community occupying Negishi in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries provides an apt case study of how, in violation of segregation laws, individuals from all status groups came to live together in privatized outlying aesthetic spaces. The result was the emergence of a comparatively horizontal, egalitarian, and self-sustaining community that embraced and challenged contemporary utopian representations of meisho (celebrated spots). Documents produced by Negishi residents reveal an array of living experiences that complicate, and occasionally subvert, our view of suburban spaces and lifestyles.