Balancing urban revitalization, tourism, and development issues in times of crisis: Kawagoe's historical district as a self-sustaining and resilient community

Imai, Heide GND

Using the example of the urban revitalization process of Kawagoe’s historical city center and district around Ichibangai Street, this paper examines the impact of different tourism development plans on the urban environment, community structure, and local economy of the neighborhood. Expanding on assumptions around the terms heritage, tourism, and tradition, the paper discusses potentials and practices of a distinctive revitalization and tourism approach that can offer new possibilities but also the chance of resistance. This will be done by critically evaluating Kawagoe’s community and tourism development plan and presenting personal trajectories drawing on ethnographic data collected before and after the Tohoku earthquake of 11 March 2011. The results show that synergies which derive from such incidents could be used to develop a better understanding of the impact of tourism development, and of how to rebound from times of crisis. The case of Kawagoe illustrates how the preservation of a traditional townscape can serve as one step toward the development of a sustainable, self-reliant, and resilient community when relying on a distinctive, place-based tourism approach.

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