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EastAsia

Inside Hong Kong’s cage homes

Hong Kong is the most expensive housing market in the world. It has been ranked as the least affordable housing market on Earth for eight years in a row, and the price per square foot seems to be only going up. The inflated prices are forcing Hongkongers to squeeze into unconventionally small spaces that can affect their quality of life.

Source: www.youtube.com

Land scarcity is usually the main culprit behind extremely high real estate markets in the world’s most expensive housing markets.  Silicon Valley, New York City, and other urban areas that are magnets for a young, well-educated workforce have very high costs of living.  The rising property values and rents make living in a city on the rise difficult for many of the residents that aren’t a part of the economic rising tide (gentrification is just particular example).   

Hong Kong is a very peculiar example were land scarcity is only a part of the situation.  Bad land use (3.7% zoned for high density housing) policy and land management are bigger culprits.  The government essentially owns all the land in Hong Kong and leases it to developers, so developers are incentivized to drive up that rates, given that the government doesn’t want to tax the corporations for the land that they occupy.

Season 2 of Vox borders has 5 episodes about Hong Kong:

  1. How British rule shaped Hong Kong
  2. China is erasing its border with Hong Kong
  3. Feng shui shaped Hong Kong’s skyline
  4. Decline of Hong Kong’s neon glow
  5. Hong Kong’s cage homes (profiled above)

Scoop.it Tags: housingurban, spatialdensity, planning, urbanism, China.

WordPress TAGS: housing, urban, spatial, density, planning, urbanism, China.

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Inside North Korea’s bubble in Japan

"Why North Korea has children’s schools in Japan. This isn’t a story about a physical border. North Koreans living in Japan experience a much less visible kind of border, one made of culture, tradition, history, and ideology. The result is a North Korean bubble in Japan whose members face fierce discrimination from Japanese society, leading the community to turn to Pyongyang for support. Now that community is being tested like never before. North Korea routinely threatens to destroy Japan with nuclear weapons, prompting a spike in Japanese nationalism. Japanese politicians are feeling increasing pressure to crack down on this North Korean bubble, creating a battleground in the most unlikely of places: schools."

Source: www.youtube.com

This episode of Vox borders offers some excellent insight into a cultural enclave that feels deeply connected with a totalitarian regime.  From the outside, this raises so many questions, but understanding the cultural, historical, political, and economic context shows how this peculiar community continues.  The entire series of Vox Borders is fantastic material, dripping with geographic content.   

Tags: North KoreaJapan, East Asiaborders, political, historical.

WordPress TAGS: North Korea, Japan, East Asia, borders, political, historical.

The Japanese art of (not) sleeping

"The Japanese don’t sleep. This is what everyone – the Japanese above all – say. I first encountered these intriguing attitudes to sleep during my first stay in Japan in the late 1980s. Daily life was hectic; people filled their schedules with work and leisure appointments, and had hardly any time to sleep. Many voiced the complaint: ‘We Japanese are crazy to work so much!’ But in these complaints one detected a sense of pride at being more diligent and therefore morally superior to the rest of humanity. Yet, at the same time, I observed countless people dozing on underground trains during my daily commute. Some even slept while standing up, and no one appeared to be at all surprised by this.

The positive image of the worker bee, who cuts back on sleep at night and frowns on sleeping late in the morning, seemed to be accompanied by an extensive tolerance of so-called ‘inemuri’ – napping on public transportation and during work meetings, classes and lectures. Women, men and children apparently had little inhibition about falling asleep when and wherever they felt like doing so."

Source: www.bbc.com

If you subscribe to Edward Hall’s Cultural Iceberg model (video), we can readily see, touch, or experience many parts of a society’s culture; what they wear, the ways the communicate, the food they eat, etc.  Beneath the surface, though, are the less obvious cultural traits that aren’t so easily observed.  These aspects of culture, such as the beliefs, values, and thought patterns of a society, are critical to understanding differing cultural traits.

 

Questions to Ponder: In this article about sleep in Japan, what elements of external culture (above the surface) are present?  What elements of internal culture (beneath the surface) are present?  How do the cultural traits beneath the surface shape the cultural traits that are above the surface?    

Scoop.it Tags: culturecultural norms, labor, JapanEast Asia.

WordPress TAGS: cultural norms, culture, labor, Japan, East Asia.

China is trying to turn itself into a country of 19 super-regions

"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.

The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."

Source: www.economist.com

This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier.  High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands.  While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces. 

Scoop.it Tags: urbanregions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

WordPress TAGS: urban, regions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

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