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In “The Making of Urban Japan,” professor Andre Sorensen explains the genesis of modern Japanese cities, from bustling stations to intimate alleyways. Published in 2002, while he was a lecturer at the University of Tokyo, it remains the best introduction to Japanese urban planning in English.

Widespread urbanization began in the Edo Period (1603-1868) when castle towns became merchant centers. By the end of the 18th century, “Japan was one of the most highly urbanized countries,” and Tokyo was “probably the largest city in the world,” he writes.

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