Naomi Uchida, a Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Saitama University in Japan where she teaches classes in urban planning, has joined the Bloustein School as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar through July 2022.
Her current research focuses on Japanese gentrification, urban revitalization, and community development. She grew up in a small town in Japan near Kyoto called Fukui City—a sister city to New Brunswick, NJ—and was always been interested in street design. She says she wondered why the centers of small towns, such as her town, were not as vibrant as those in Tokyo and went on to study architecture and then urban planning in graduate school. She received her Ph.D. in Architecture from Waseda University in 2006 and an M.A. in Urban Design and Planning from the University of Washington (Seattle) in 2004.
Dr. Uchida has been involved in discussions with local residents regarding urban issues such as redevelopment projects and community planning and has been engaged in field surveys in Ishikawa, Saitama, and Tokyo prefectures while working with communities, non-profit organizations, and local governments on urban projects. She is also interested in how the process of gentrification — the process where an urban neighborhood quickly redevelops over a short period of time by improving housing and attracting new businesses but also increasing rents and living costs while often displacing current inhabitants — can be applied to Japan.
During her time at the Bloustein School, will be working on an academic paper, developing an academic network, and getting to know this region by talking with people about the urban planning systems in Manhattan, Newark, and other East Coast areas.
Outside of work Dr. Uchida enjoys reading, running, and cooking. Her favorite author is Yukio Mishima, a legendary Japanese writer from the 1950s to70s. “The Japanese used in his novels are very beautiful,” she says, “And there are several translated books available here in the US. I am curious how the expressions were translated! My favorite is Spring Snow.”
Before coming to Rutgers, Dr. Uchida was a visiting scholar at the University of Washington for several months and lived in the city center of Seattle. While was surprised at how huge Rutgers is, she says the area around Saitama University, a suburban area of Tokyo, is exactly like New Jersey. During her time here, she hopes to have the opportunity to see more of the nature in this region.
“I have heard that many people from my town studied at Rutgers over 150 years ago, so I am excited to be part of that history.”
More than 800 faculty and professionals from around the world receive Fulbright Scholar grants for advanced research and university lecturing in the United States annually. Individual grants are available to scholars from over 100 countries. Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements apply for grants through the Fulbright commission/foundation or the public affairs section of the U.S. embassy in their home countries. Exchanges range in length from three to twelve months. Fulbright Visiting Scholars are encouraged to pursue opportunities to engage in stimulating topics, meet other Fulbrighters, broaden their intellectual networks, and experience the diversity of higher education in the United States.