Zen Spaces in Neon Places

Reflections on Japanese Architecture and Urbanism


Vinayak Bharne


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Combining two decades of author Vinayak Bharne’s scholarship, fieldwork, and personal experience, this landmark volume evokes the bewildering and contradictory built world of Japan, and weaves together its delicate and raw intellectual textures into a unique reading experience.


7 x 9"
Hardcover, Trade Cloth
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Moving across Japanese history in time and space—from its ancient Shinto beginnings to its largest recorded earthquake, and from the spiritual calm of  Ise and Ryoanji to the psychedelic consumerism of Shinjuku and Ginza—Zen Spaces in Neon Places captures the multifarious architectural and urban sensations of the Japanese built environment—its historic buildings and post-industrial cities; its monastic gardens and digital streetscapes; its hyperspeed trains and theme parks; and its concurrent propensities for kinky love hotels and contemplative tea ceremonies. Zen Spaces also looks back at the vital defining moments in the culture’s history—the reforestation policy of the Tokugawa, the entry of European influences, the insinuation of Western democracy, the rise and collapse of the economic bubble—and their transformative effects in shaping the Japanese urban landscape we see today.

About the author: 

Vinayak Bharne is a practicing urbanist based in Los Angeles, and a joint faculty of urbanism at the Price School of Public Policy and the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. A former Asia-Pacific Development Commission Traveling Scholar to Japan, his writings on the Japanese built environment have been published by the Japan Foundation, Journal of Architectural Education, Society for Asian Art, Kyoto Journal etc. He is the editor of The Emerging Asian City: Concomitant Urbanities & Urbanisms (Routledge 2012), co-author of Rediscovering the Hindu Temple: The Sacred Architecture and Urbanism of India (CSP, 2012), and contributing author of several books including Planning Los Angeles (APA, 2012), and Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture (010, 2011).