Mobility and consumption: The interrelation of public transport networks and shopping malls in urban Japan
Stefan Fuchs (PhD Candidate, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne)
In Japan in the last few decades many major railway station buildings were transformed into shopping malls. The purpose of this paper is to consider how this connection between public transport and retail influences consumption behaviours. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a shopping mall in a Tokyo suburb, in this paper I examine different processes by which repeated activities of shopping and leisure become embedded into everyday commuting routines. Using data from observations and interviews, I suggest that within such a system of public transport and retail the boundaries between commuting and consumption are blurred and for passengers the shopping mall becomes a highly integrated, palpable part of their daily routes. Drawing on some previous research, this paper contributes to what has been termed as the ‘mobility turn’ in two ways: (1) I make the point that research has to take into account the practices of mobility that are involved in consumption, and (2) I will point out that a system of public transport and retail as seen in Japan entails a significantly different experience of moving and consuming and that therefore the use of cars has until now been overstated in the research on mobility.
mobility, consumption, shopping malls, public transport, Japan