Yuko Nakamura

PhD Candidate in Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Yuko is a spatial ethnographer, driven by her curiosity about the intersection between human behavior and design of things in physical spaces. She studies people’s understandings and uses of public spaces in the United States and Japan.

Her dissertation explores women’s tactical uses of non-domestic spaces in modern Tokyo (1868–1937). She looks into how women interpreted and appropriated schools, workplaces, eating and drinking establishments, and shopping and entertainment venues, the spaces that were not initially designed for them.

Yuko is a PhD candidate in architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan. She has served as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Humanities Without Walls National Pre-doctoral Fellow (2017), the junior convener of Transnational Asia/Pacific Section, American Folklore Society (2015–17), a Fulbright scholar from Japan (2012–14).

Yuko is most energized when grappling with methodological challenges, where traditional evidence of architectural studies, including buildings, architectural documentation, and public records, is scant. Primarily, she has explored underdocumented spaces that have been physically lost, but remain in people's stories and cultures.


PhD in Architecture
With Minors in Folklore Studies & Urban Environmental History
Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Program
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


MArch in Urban Design
Bartlett School of Architecture
University College London, UK


BEng, Urban Planning Concentration
Senior Thesis Project at Behavior in Networks Studies Unit
University of Tokyo, Japan



“Cultural Landscape Conservation (Japan).”
“Japanese Lexicon.”

In the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World
2nd edition, edited by Marcel Vellinga


“Gendered Landscapes of Higher Education: Process and Social Meanings in the Campus Development of a Women’s Specialized School in Tokyo, Japan, 1900–31.”
Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of Vernacular Architecture Forum

Revise & resubmit


With Dan Cho & Fran Assa


“Space, Women, and Modernization: Changes in Mitsukoshi Department Store and its female staff, 1874-1937”
Gender, Space, and the City in Global History
Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan

October 28–29, 2017

“Spaces for Socializing: Emergence and Development of Women-only Gatherings in pre-World-War-II Tokyo, Japan.”
2017 Asian Studies Conference Japan
Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan

July 8–9, 2017
Abstract reviewed

“Modern, Urban, and Ephemeral: Vernacular Architecture in Japan.”
2017 Society of Architectural Historians International Conference
Technology & Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

June 7–11, 2017
With Kosei Hatsuda
Abstract reviewed

“Socializing and Placemaking of Middle-Class Women in Tokyo, Japan, 1868–1937.”
2016 American Folklore Society/International Society for Folk Narrative Research Joint Annual Meeting
Hyatt Regency Miami, FL

October 19–22, 2016
Abstract reviewed

“Gendered Politics of Space: Interpreting the Campuses for Women’s Higher Education in Pre-WWII Tokyo as a Record of Negotiation.”
2016 Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

October 14–16, 2016
Abstract reviewed

“The Gendered Spatial Politics in Modern Japan: A Case Study of the Women's Specialized School Campuses in Pre-WWII Tokyo.”
The 8th Biennial Urban History Association Conference
Corboy Law Center, Loyola University Chicago, IL

October 13–16, 2016
Abstract reviewed

“The Gendered Landscapes of Higher Education: Interpreting the Campuses of Women’s Specialized Schools in Pre-WWII Tokyo, Japan as 'Negotiated Space.'”
2016 Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference
Durham Convention Center, Durham, NC

June 1–4, 2016
Abstract reviewed

“Climate, Culture, and Vernacular Architecture.”
1st Hermeneutics of Landscapes Seminar
Kanazawa Institute of Technology, Kanazawa, Japan

March 11, 2016
In Japanese

“'Context' in Vernacular Architecture Studies and Its Connections to Landscapes and Infrastructure Studies.”
2015 Conference for Architecture and Infrastructure Environment, Japan Society of Civil Engineers
Kogakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

December 11–13, 2015
Abstract reviewed
In Japanese

“Vector Ecologies, Spatial Encounters, and Gender Enactments: A Historical Ethnography of Women’s Placemaking in Tokyo, Japan, after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.”
2015 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting
Westin Long Beach, CA

October 14–17, 2015
Abstract reviewed

“Placemaking as Performance: Boulevard Inn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a Case Study.”
2015 Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference
Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL

June 3–7, 2015
Abstract reviewed

“Methodology of Vernacular Architectural History and Its Recent Development: Architectural History as Part of Urban History.”
19th Behavior in Networks Seminar: Examining the Potential of Urban Morphology in the History of Architecture and Infrastructure
University of Tokyo, Japan

January 31, 2015
In Japanese

“In the Backstage: Occupational Affects in Making a Place for Holiday Eating at Boulevard Inn, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”
2014 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting
Santa Fe Convention Center, NM

November 5–8, 2014
Abstract reviewed

“Reconstructing Place from Olfactory Narratives: North Downer Avenue in the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”
2014 Oral History Association Annual Meeting
Madison Concourse Hotel, WI

October 8–12, 2014
Abstract reviewed

“Identifying “Common” Places as Cultural Resources: An Experimental Study on the Transmission of People’s Systems to Evaluate Vernacular Places.”
2013 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting
Omni Hotel Providence, RI

October 16–19, 2013
Abstract reviewed

“Methodology of Vernacular Architectural History: A Case Study of the 2013 Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.”
17th Behavior in Networks Seminar: Understanding and Applying The History of Urban Disasters and the Process of Landscape Formation
University of Tokyo, Japan

October 16–19, 2013
In Japanese

“A Study on the Values and Meanings of Place in Networks.”
17th Behavior in Networks Seminar: 45th Conference for Infrastructure Planning and Management
Kyoto University, Japan

October 16–19, 2013
With Eiji Hato
Abstract reviewed
In Japanese

Awards & Fellowships

Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship
Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Humanities Without Walls National Pre-doctoral Fellowship
Humanities Without Walls Consortium, Urbana-Champaign, IL


Scott Opler Graduate Student Fellowship
Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago, IL


Travel Subsidiary for Workshop "Reading Place in Edo & Tokyo"
UCLA/Waseda University Yanai Tadashi Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, Los Angeles, CA


Gerald L. Davis Travel Award
American Folklore Society, Bloomington, IN

2015, 16

Bob Greenstreet Honorary Scholarship
Department of Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


Pamela H. Simpson Presenter’s Fellowship
Vernacular Architecture Forum, Harrisonburg, VA


Distinguished Graduate Student Fellowship
Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


Scholarship for Long-Term Graduate Study Abroad
Japan Student Services Organization, Tokyo, Japan

Declined 2014–15

Presenter Registration and Membership Waiver
Oral History Association, Atlanta, GA


Sponsored Student Scholarship
Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching, College Park, MD


Digital Humanities Lab Training Award
Digital Humanities Lab, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


Graduate School Travel Grant
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI

2013, 14, 15, 16

PhD in Architecture Program Travel Grant
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI

2013, 14, 15

Japan-United States Fulbright Graduate Scholarship
Japan-United States Educational Commission, Tokyo, Japan


21st Century Study Abroad Fellowship
21st Century Cultural and Academic Foundation, Tokyo, Japan


Teaching Experience

“Roof in Traditional Japanese Architecture.”
- CMP2331: Japanese Arts A, History of Japanese Art Fall 2016
Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan

December 7, 2016

“Space and Gender.”
- ARCH 302: Architecture and Human Behavior Spring 2015
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI

April 14, 2015

Course Design of “Folklore and Ethnography of Vernacular Places.”
- In GRAD 803: Teaching and Learning in College: Reflections on Theory and Practice Spring 2015
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


“Method Workshop in Humanities Programming.”
Digital Humanities Lab, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI

September 29, 2014
With Trevor Berman

Graduate Teaching Assistant in Architecture
- ARCH 301: Architectural Structures and Construction Spring 2014
- ARCH 303: Architecture and Environmental Response Fall 2013
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI


Architectural Practice

Architectural Designer
Upsetters Architects, Tokyo, Japan


Architectural Intern
Sasaki Architects, Tokyo, Japan



A full CV and references are available upon request. Please feel free to message me.