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Cultural Editing for Linking City, Culture and Society

Urban Research Plaza & Graduate School of Business, Osaka City University, 3-3-138 Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi, Osaka 558-8585, Japan
Publications 2015, 3(3), 211-218;
Submission received: 3 June 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 10 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Challenges of Journal Start-up in the Digital Era)


City, Culture and Society (Elsevier) aims to stimulate a new interdisciplinary paradigm that embraces multiple perspectives and applies this paradigm to the urban imperative that defines the century. The journal is looking at an academic audience, but is also seeking new readers, such as those working in the public sector, those employed in the private sector, those who contribute to international organizations, and so on. The paper considers one methodological viewpoint for promoting interdisciplinary studies by using the concept—cultural editing—and shows some new horizons for urban studies.

1. Introduction: Publication of City, Culture and Society

This century has been dubbed that of cities: sustainable cities, compact cities, post-modern cities, mega-cities, and more. In this context, I launched an international journal titled City, Culture and Society (hereafter CCS) during 2010 in collaboration with the European publishers Elsevier. CCS focuses on urban governance and management, under the banner of both cultural creativity and social inclusion. Its primary goal is to promote pioneering research on cities, and to foster the sort of urban administration that has the vision and authority to reinvent cities that are adapted to contemporary challenges and which are shaped from the citizen’s point of view.
The journal aims to stimulate a new interdisciplinary paradigm that embraces multiple perspectives and applies this paradigm to the urban imperative that defines the century. The journal is looking at an academic audience, but is also seeking new readers, such as those working in the public sector, those employed in the private sector, those who contribute to international organizations, and so on.
The topics of special interest to CCS include urban economics, cultural creation, social inclusion, social sustainability, cultural technology, urban governance, sustainable cities, and creative cities. As a peer-reviewed international journal, CCS welcomes contributions from disciplines including—but not limited to—economics, business and accounting; architecture and planning; political science and sociology; geography and history; cultural studies, population studies and public administration.
The journal is organized as follows Table 1:
Table 1. The editorial structure of the journal.
Table 1. The editorial structure of the journal.
Editors: LocationDisciplinary Background
Editor-in-Chief (1): ItalyUrban planning, creative cities
Managing Editor (1): JapanDesign, creativity management
Editors (2): Canada and the UKArts marketing, Cultural industry
Associate Editors (6): Australia 1, Hong Kong 1, Japan 2, South Korea 1, UK 1Accounting 1, Geography 2, Sociology 1, Management 2
Editorial Board (51): Australia 3, Belgium 1, Canada 2, China 2, Denmark 1, Finland 1, France 1, Germany 2, Hong Kong 1, Italy 1, Japan 12, Singapore 1, South Korea 5, Thailand 1, UK 9, USA 8Accounting 3, Architecture 5, Cultural industry 4, Economics 6, Management 5, Marketing 2, Political science 6, Sociology 6, Transportation 1, Urban planning 5, Urban science 8)
It was designed for geographical coverage and academic diversity, and with more than a usual emphasis on Asian countries, Africa, and South America. This focus on readers beyond the usual academic markets—in terms of both geography and sector—means also that the cost of information is more important. Consequently, open access (OA) is desirable for promoting general public accessibility to scientific results, and the journal encourages OA submissions. The publisher offers OA publication with a fee; alternatively, a number of schemes exist to encourage access to information for individuals and institutions outside the usual academic networks.
The process of peer review is clearly of much importance to a new journal, and yet it is difficult to fit in these kinds of new focuses. It has been necessary to find out the new thinking about review criteria suitable for such an interdisciplinary journal, especially with regard to research methodology and data analysis. At the same time, we must seek a balance among more traditional metrics, such as performance evaluation, impact factors, download numbers, speed of review process, and so on.
In the next section, let us consider a methodological viewpoint for promoting interdisciplinary studies on urban governance and management under the banner of cultural creativity and social inclusion.

2. Cultural Editing as an Example for Interdisciplinary Methodologies

Cultural editing is a process whereby the creativity of urban areas is implemented by using verbalization to create spaces and develop a new possibility for social and collective inclusion 1. Cultural editing is a conceptual framework and tools for co-governing among lots of actors in the community (Matsuoka [9]). Okano (2015) [10] examines Kaizen (continuous improvement) and value engineering activities for Japanese companies’ product development and cost designing process by using Japanese verbs.
Awase” (co-existing) and “Kasane” (overlapping) are techniques for laying two or more things of a different nature on top of one another. A further example of cultural editing techniques, different from those two, is “Zurashi 2” (unlinking, displacing, sliding, shifting, delay), which creates spaces (both real and virtual) that are different from previous ones by displacing forward or backward perspectives, standpoints, perceptions of the times, and points of time.
Sasaki [11] analyzed the imaginative power of “Zurashi” from an aesthetic perspective through the study of Tanka poems. He stated that the Japanese sense a “poetic” sentiment in words like “Omokage” (reminder), “Nagori” (traces), and “Natsukashisa” (nostalgia), and that many of these words have been fostered in cultural environments, thus giving rise to unique sensitivities within each distinctive culture. He then went on to shed light on “Zurashi” and “tactile sensation,” which characterize the Japanese sensitivity.
Yamanishi [12] then associated this subject with the formation of multicultural social coordinators, indicating the importance of the capability to provide links among different things by “displacing” them. He attaches importance to “Zurashi” as a keyword for changing frameworks formerly held by organizations, such as governments, enterprises, schools, and citizens’ groups, and education and welfare, healthcare, and other fields. “Zurashi” is an act of paraphrasing, and at the same time related feelings and nostalgia also exist within it. Shimizu [13] classified spatial design techniques in Kyoto into concepts centered on verbs: separate and link, liken, move about, move back, simplify and displace, assemble, make space, make transparent, lighten and darken, use water, capture, and ink paintings. Pointing out that the “Zurashi” technique helps to elicit new images, he observed that when one sees a building that blends into a surrounding environment of lush greenery, rather than just a building by itself, one can feel a skillful beauty of spatial design that cannot be created by that structure alone. He also asserted that buildings are not symmetrical, but rather express a strong feeling of tension as they maintain a balance with elements other than symmetry.
Sashihiku” or “subtracting” is a technique whereby what is important is made conspicuous by its absence. This concept is typically visible in the landscaping plans of Japanese Zen temples, and is particularly notable in the rock garden at Ryoanji Temple (in this case, water is subtracted). In other words, as a way to make something stand out, that thing is made extremely unobtrusive, and in the above example the nonexistence of water is put into relief by thoroughly eliminating all water. Although it may be difficult to have people from Western countries understand this technique of “Sashihiki” there is no doubt whatsoever that fostering their comprehension of this technique should trigger a breakthrough, which in turn will promote even further understanding of Japanese culture.
The curators have been played important roles for cultural editing. Curating is a part of cultural editing process and it becomes increasingly multifaceted practice, since there are more needs for a mediator to collate, contextualize, broker and translate to a public, sponsors and other actors. For curators, it is necessary to promote abilities to create cultural editing methods for the social aspects.
Due to the transition to an individual performance-based system in recent years, the trend has been shifting to by-segment/item (location) calculations. In the past, however, the primary trend was calculation by-product development project (by goods) and by item and, furthermore, the by-function management system has been maintained by “subtracting” factors related to performance evaluation.
Cultural editing depends on cross cultural situations including differences of language. At the next section, syncretism derived from mixing difference cultural elements will be examined.

3. Syncretism and Sources of Creativity in India, China and Japan

Syncretism refers to a phenomenon where diverse elements are mixed and multilayered through mutual contact among different cultures 3 (Burke [14]). (Mahāyāna) Buddhism originated in India, and was brought to China, Korea, and Japan. On the other hand, Shinto can be understood as a multifaceted assembly of practices, attitudes, and institutions that express the Japanese people's relationship with their land and the lifecycles of the Earth and humans.
In one case, fundamentally polytheistic elements are mixed and fused together to form one single religious system, e.g., the syncretic fusion of Shinto and Buddhism in Japan, and in another, more than one religious system coexists in a given society and people are engaged in one or the other according to specific situations.
Syncretism has often been understood as something similar to eclecticism, but as a type of mixture it is not eclectic. Even if two different things are seemingly combined together, they are maintained and preserved as two separate entities, while at the same time coexisting with each other despite such distinction. A symbol of this is the Karahafu roof: while it is a common sight at temples and shrines, once passed through to the inside, visitors find themselves in a completely different world. The characters of the word literally mean to “overcome” traditional “Chinese style”, making one wonder what this might have to do with the Shinto and Buddhist deities.
Given how Shinto gods and goddesses were associated with Buddhism on the level of common people, i.e., how they were fused and separated in everyday life, one may agree with Fujiwara’s argument, although some historical facts remain to be considered after the Meiji Restoration, such as the government-forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism and the establishment of State Shinto.
Sueki [15] argued that Shinto and Buddhism complement each other. In other words, in everyday life one may encounter problems that only Buddhism cannot offer a solution to, while Shinto practically plays a role of complementing Buddhism. He stressed the need to consider the relationships between Shinto and Buddhism with this recognition in mind.
In order to describe the history (continuity and discontinuity) of “interactivity” between “institutions” and people’s activities, it is not enough to merely see “institutions” as neutral devices for recording/reporting the “facts” of economic activities. Rather, “institutions” should be understood as a series of “practices” 4 that affect the patterns of the world in which we live today and social realities, and methods for discovering open choices in private enterprises and individuals, for managing and organizing diverse activities and processes, and for governing others and oneself (Okano [16,17,18,19]) 5.
To describe the “history of practices,” one has to accept knowledge from diverse approaches to social and cultural history. In particular, “culture” is something that is created and enjoyed by individuals or groups, and the development of culture needs to be traced while giving due regard to correlations among creators (actors), cultural assets, and those who benefit from them. In so doing, one cannot discuss culture by separating it from the way the society in which it was born has existed. Here, communications between the subject who “creates” and the subject who “benefits” assume great importance.
It is in this aspect then that culture editing works. Those subjects who were previously not included by “translation” are now included by it, and the roles among subjects change. It may be said that the content of “translation” is culture editing.
The “streets” or “small path” is something that cannot be done without in human cultural life, and people’s “feelings” are embedded in multiple layers. If we begin to see the state of galleries and temples as open spaces while exploring correlations among various subjects that are involved with urban creativity, numerous discoveries can be made. By putting a focus on the memories of cities, creation of new images by people today, and culture editing by way of “zurashi” and other verbs, we may obtain hints on how we can activate those things. It is interesting to note that choosing to leave something blank or as open space, or deciding not to include something because of its importance, is also a key aspect of culture editing. To measure distances between humankind and things and events, a greater significance is being assigned to space, open space, and “devices” that incite memories. Things and events that are invisible may be made possible by space. In the end, however, the development of human beings who are capable of feeling such things and events is what is truly needed.

4. Concluding Remarks

Cities are facing with varied problems, including terrorism, energy challenges, and environmental issues, and also inter-urban competition by expanding globalization forces. What is required is to gather theoretical insights from various scientific areas—not only the social sciences and humanities but also natural sciences—and connect them to the practical insights already gained through numerous efforts to deal with these issues on the ground. By doing this, paradigms for urban creativity 6 can be developed and we can start to accumulate trustworthy practice and theoretically-based intelligence that can be used for improved policy-making. The keywords for a proposed Book Series are “Urban creativity,” “(cultural) heritage” and “social development.” The goal is developing (cultural) heritages 7 and natural resources able to take the lead in evaluating/implementing/suggesting urban or regional designs that harmonize ecology, society and people, and that further develop urban and regional culture. There is a particular focus on fostering people who can design, manage and direct models, technologies and tools for promoting interfaces between such actors as the policy makers, urban planners, engineers and residents. Through cooperation with international researcher communities and networks, especially through our own Overseas Centers and Offices, and UNESCO, UNDP and UNEP, as well as natural history institutions, academies of science, and research institutes, we are trying to do the above implementations.
The followings are the examples to extend the relationship among City, Culture and Society.
Urban Creativity⇒Managing Creativity and Heritage
Creative industry, Creative Cities Network, Urban and Rural Network, Creativity Management, Community Revitalization, Natural diversity, Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage, World Heritage.
Arts and Cultural Management⇒Editing Culture
Cultural Editing, Mapping Cultures, Actor Network Theory, New Institutional Theory.
Social Development 8⇒Designing the Social
Social Change, Political Sociology, Sustainable Design, Social Sustainability, Collegium for Advanced Study, Integrating Social Science, Humanities and Natural Science, Natural and Human History, Botanical Social Designing.
We established the Association for Urban Creativity (AUC) in Sciences Po. (Paris) and held annual conferences in 2012 (Paris), 2013 (London) and Osaka (2013), published special issues 9 and book series from Springer in order to open new horizons for urban studies.
Cultural editing is moving into collective and socially inclusive frameworks and tools for co-governing among actors (persons, things, events and memories). It promotes linking with creativity, heritage and social designing through the perspectives of co-governing.


The author would like to acknowledge the loving support from his wife, Maki.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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  • 1Laundry [1] and Florida [2] presented some of the first discussions on creative cities, but creativity itself had been one of the key themes discussed by De Bono [3], Nishibori [4], and others. In recent studies on the creativity of cities, Cohendet et al. [5], Okano and Samson [6], Heraud [7], and Stolarick et al. [8] are included.
  • 2Zurashi becomes to be a “creative” concept by interpreting it as “de-linking,” to cutting between one space and another, and establishing a new space.
  • 3When Buddhism was introduced in Japan through China in the late Asuka period (6th century), the Japanese tried to reconcile it with the new, assuming both were true. As a consequence, Buddhist temples were attached to local kami (Japanese god) shrines and vice versa and devoted to both kami and Buddha. The formal separation of Buddhism from Shinto took place only as recently as the end of the 19th century, and in many ways the blending of the two still continues.
  • 4On practice, Michel de Certeau wrote that, “Such a ‘way of doing things’ has reworked thousands of practices, and through those practices employers re-own spaces that are organized by socio-cultural techniques. This resembles issues dealt with by Foucault, but at the same time is opposite of such issues” [20].
  • 5See Okano [21] for correlations between the history of practices and history of theories.
  • 6The Creative Cities Network is a project under the patronage of UNESCO. With the aim of celebrating and maintaining cultural diversity, the alliance is formed by member cities sharing their experiences in promoting the local heritage, as well as discussing plans on how to cope with the influx of globalization. The fields of excellence are classified among: Literature, Film, Music, Craft and Folk Art, Design, Media Arts, and Gastronomy. Professor Francesco Bandarin, former assistant director general for culture of UNESCO has been taking strong leadership of these projects for a long time and has accepted the role of editor-in-chief for City, Culture and Society from 2015.
  • 7[Cultural] heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time.
  • 8Development can be broadly defined in a manner applicable to all societies at all historical periods as an upward ascending movement featuring greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, mastery, enjoyment and accomplishment. Development is a process of social change, not merely a set of policies and programs instituted for some specific results.
  • 9The followings are themes for special issues for CCS. “London Plan 2000–2010” (CCS 1–2, 2010), “Advancing the Creative Economy Approach” (1–4, 2010), “Creative Power of Cities” (2–3, 2011), “Traceable Cities” (3–2, 2012) [Latour (2012) is included) [22], “Sports Facilities and Urban Development” (3–3, 2012), “Societal Function of Cultural Heritage” (3–4, 2012), “Sustainable City and the Arts (4–3, 2013), “Creative industries & creative policies” (5–2, 2014) “Making creative spaces: China and Australia” (5–3, 2014).

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Okano, H. Cultural Editing for Linking City, Culture and Society. Publications 2015, 3, 211-218.

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Okano H. Cultural Editing for Linking City, Culture and Society. Publications. 2015; 3(3):211-218.

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Okano, Hiroshi. 2015. "Cultural Editing for Linking City, Culture and Society" Publications 3, no. 3: 211-218.

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