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Beyond the Metropolis

Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan

Louise Young

Publication Year: 2013

In Beyond the Metropolis, Louise Young looks at the emergence of urbanism in the interwar period, a global moment when the material and ideological structures that constitute "the city" took their characteristic modern shape. In Japan, as elsewhere, cities became the staging ground for wide ranging social, cultural, economic, and political transformations. The rise of social problems, the formation of a consumer marketplace, the proliferation of streetcars and streetcar suburbs, and the cascade of investments in urban development reinvented the city as both socio-spatial form and set of ideas. Young tells this story through the optic of the provincial city, examining four second-tier cities: Sapporo, Kanazawa, Niigata, and Okayama. As prefectural capitals, these cities constituted centers of their respective regions. All four grew at an enormous rate in the interwar decades, much as the metropolitan giants did. In spite of their commonalities, local conditions meant that policies of national development and the vagaries of the business cycle affected individual cities in diverse ways. As their differences reveal, there is no single master narrative of twentieth century modernization. By engaging urban culture beyond the metropolis, this study shows that Japanese modernity was not made in Tokyo and exported to the provinces, but rather co-constituted through the circulation and exchange of people and ideas throughout the country and beyond.

Published by: University of California Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

...Among the great pleasures of doing research in Japan are the friends one accumulates along the way. Th is study took me to four cities and introduced me to wonderful communities of local historians and archivists in each. By remarkable good fortune, I embarked on my research around the centennial of the incorporation of most of Japan’s second cities...

Part One: Contexts

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Introduction: Urbanism and Japanese Modern

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pp. 3-14

...In Japan, the interwar period (1918–37) constituted a time of intensive reflection on what it meant to be “modern.” At a moment of rapid urbanization, as expanding city populations remade the social and physical landscapes of their communities, the Japanese began to link modernity with the urban experience. Popular referents for the neologism...

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1 World War One and the City Idea

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pp. 15-34

...In the new wave of investments triggered by World War One, the focus of Japan’s economic expectations shifted from the nation to the city, where the capitalist revolution’s deepening impact was most dramatically felt. Sudden and rapid urban growth stretched the capabilities of city services and strained the seams of the built environment. The war...

Part Two: Geo-Power and Urban-Centrism

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2 The Ideology of the Metropolis

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pp. 37-82

...One of the most striking effects of Japan’s modernization project of the late nineteenth century was the rising prominence and increasing centrality of Tokyo within the new national space. By the 1920s, Meiji government policies of national developmentalism pursued since the 1870s had built Tokyo up and transformed it into the control room for nationwide political parties, the seat of national government and apex...

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3 Colonizing the Country

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pp. 83-138

...As Raymond Williams famously observed, the city-country binary constitutes one of the most prominent tropes of modernity. The opposition between the two, as well as their mutual dependency, emerged as a fundamental condition of industrial capitalism. Moreover, this new relationship between city and country was the product...

Part Three: Modern Times and the City Idea

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4 The Past in the Present

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pp. 141-187

...The urban juggernaut of the early twentieth century created new challenges for cities as they tried to deal with the dramatic changes in everyday life. Former castle towns, battered by Meiji reforms that had undercut the towns’ source of feudal privilege, recovered and began to grow at a swift pace. The population churn generated by an increasingly mobile labor force destabilized urban communities...

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5 The Cult of the New

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pp. 188-239

...The social and cultural movements of the interwar years expressed a fascination with “the new”—the new products, new fads, new pastimes, new lifestyles, and new types of men and women that erupted onto the urban landscape, only to be replaced with the new “new.” Th e regional turn reflected in the local-history movement also expressed itself through...

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Epilogue: Urbanism and Twentieth-Century Japan

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pp. 240-258

...In visible and invisible ways, the urban expansion of the interwar period left its mark on the twentieth century. As urban projects created a network of urban-centered institutions that sustained the modern city, urbanism entwined itself with modern life and became the face of the future. Th e underlying foundations of the urban form and the city idea laid down in these years have proved remarkably tenacious...


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pp. 259-286


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pp. 287-296


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pp. 297-307

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 308-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780520955387
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520275201

Page Count: 326
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 829460116
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Beyond the Metropolis

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Urbanization -- Japan -- History -- 20th century.
  • Japan -- Social conditions -- 1912-1945.
  • Japan -- Civilization -- 20th century.
  • Japan -- History -- 1912-1945.
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