Macquarie University
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K-pop: its social and spatial influence on the Tokyo cityscape

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:21 authored by Kathryn Phillips
This thesis examines the influence and effect of K-pop (Korean Popular Music) on the Tokyo cityscape and how Tokyo residents’ react to the ongoing consumption of the genre and its related commodities. Using participant observation, a pilot survey and interview data collected through ethnographic fieldwork, I argue that K-pop is normalised within the cityscape using previously embedded neoliberal practices. I also demonstrate that K-pop and the broader Korean wave have transformed Shin-Ōkubo — a previously-established “Koreatown” — into a K-pop sakariba (amusement district). This sakariba has become pivotal to the construction of a Korean Wave subculture that I call the “Kanryū lifestyle”, which I conceptualise via Bourdieu’s sociological theories of habitus and taste. Finally, I suggest that non-consumers attempt to manage identity boundaries in relation to K-pop consumption and the Kanryū lifestyle by maintaining its exceptionality through nihonjinron beliefs and attitudes, often used to defend the idea of a unique and homogenous Japan. Together, this study argues that while non-consuming Tokyo residents may attempt to minimise K-pop and the Kanryū lifestyle’s influence in order to regulate their own identities, K-pop’s adoption of Japan’s neoliberal consumption practices means that it continues to become normalised both socially and spatially within the cityscape.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. K-pop in the consumable city -- Chapter 2. Shin-Ōkubo as a K-pop sakariba -- Chapter 3. Views of the Kanryū lifestyle from the outside -- Conclusion -- Reference list -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 82-87

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies, Languages and Cultures

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Thomas Baudinette

Additional Supervisor 1

Mio Bryce


Copyright Kathryn Phillips 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




Korea (South)


1 online resource (vi, 99 pages) colour illustrations

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