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Edo Culture Cover

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Edo Culture

Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 16001868

Nishiyama Matsunosuke & Gerald Groemer

Nishiyama Matsunosuke is one of the most important historians of Tokugawa (Edo) popular culture, yet until now his work has never been translated into a Western language. Edo Culture presents a selection of Nishiyama’s writings that serves not only to provide an excellent introduction to Tokugawa cultural history but also to fill many gaps in our knowledge of the daily life and diversions of the urban populace of the time. Many essays focus on the most important theme of Nishiyama’s work: the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries as a time of appropriation and development of Japan’s culture by its urban commoners. In the first of three main sections, Nishiyama outlines the history of Edo (Tokyo) during the city’s formative years, showing how it was shaped by the constant interaction between its warrior and commoner classes. Next, he discusses the spirit and aesthetic of the Edo native and traces the woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e to the communal activities of the city’s commoners. Section two focuses on the interaction of urban and rural culture during the nineteenth century and on the unprecedented cultural diffusion that occurred with the help of itinerant performers, pilgrims, and touring actors. Among the essays is a delightful and detailed discourse on Tokugawa cuisine. The third section is dedicated to music and theatre, beginning with a study of no, which was patronized mainly by the aristocracy but surprisingly by commoners as well. In separate chapters, Nishiyama analyzes the relation of social classes to musical genres and the aesthetics of kabuki. The final chapter focuses on vaudeville houses supported by the urban masses.

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Empire of Dogs

Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World

In the groundbreaking Empire of Dogs, Aaron Herald Skabelund examines the history and cultural significance of dogs in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan, beginning with the arrival of Western dog breeds and new modes of dog keeping, which spread throughout the world with Western imperialism. He highlights how dogs joined with humans to create the modern imperial world and how, in turn, imperialism shaped dogs' bodies and their relationship with humans through its impact on dog-breeding and dog-keeping practices that pervade much of the world today.

In a book that is both enlightening and entertaining, Skabelund focuses on actual and metaphorical dogs in a variety of contexts: the rhetorical pairing of the Western "colonial dog" with native canines; subsequent campaigns against indigenous canines in the imperial realm; the creation, maintenance, and in some cases restoration of Japanese dog breeds, including the Shiba Inu; the mobilization of military dogs, both real and fictional; and the emergence of Japan as a "pet superpower" in the second half of the twentieth century. Through this provocative account, Skabelund demonstrates how animals generally and canines specifically have contributed to the creation of our shared history, and how certain dogs have subtly influenced how that history is told. Generously illustrated with both color and black-and-white images, Empire of Dogs shows that human-canine relations often expose how people-especially those with power and wealth-use animals to define, regulate, and enforce political and social boundaries between themselves and other humans, especially in imperial contexts.

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Ending the LDP Hegemony

Ray Christensen

From its founding in 1955 and for the next thirty-eight years, Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won all but one national election and selected every prime minister and nearly every cabinet member. Other democracies have had similarly dominant parties, but none approaches the LDP for longevity in power and complete dominance of the political scene. Then, in 1993 a political earthquake transformed Japan from a country of unchanging one-party rule into a nation of ever-changing and free-flowing political coalitions. For the rest of the decade the LDP struggled to regain its position of dominance and for the most part succeeded. At the end of the millennium the LDP lacked a majority in the House of Councillors, the upper house of the Japanese Diet, but it was nevertheless strong and confident once again while the opposition was in disarray. The LDP's loss of control in 1993, however brief, made obsolete much of what had been written on Japanese politics. Ending the LDP Hegemony answers the need for an up-to-date analysis of the political scene, providing both the information and framework needed to unravel the tangle of coalition politics in the 1990s and anticipate the composition and policies of future Japanese governments. It is the first study in English to focus on and put into historical context interparty relations in Japan. Western scholars and media heretofore have focused either on the LDP's successes or the peculiarities of the individual opposition parties, ignoring interparty relations that are well known to the Japanese. Ray Christensen offers here a new perspective on the interaction among members of the Democratic, New Frontier, Japan Socialist, Japan Communist, Democratic Socialist, and Clean Government parties, as well as on their general political orientation and tactics. He challenges the assumption that the LDP's accomplishments can be attributed to its being the most efficient, capable, and intelligent party, and describes in detail the strategies of the opponents, demonstrating the political savvy of their leaders. His analysis of key data on cooperation and elections reveals that opposition parties actually outperformed the LDP. This study not only fills a gap in our understanding of modern Japanese politics, it is also adds a critical non-European perspective to analyses of opposition politics and social democracy. It argues that the Japanese experience requires a modification of analytical frameworks, which are based almost exclusively on Western European examples, and questions those who support a more authoritarian, "Asian" model of democracy by revealing the vibrancy of the opposition in Japan and the technical reasons for the LDP's success. Ending the LDP Hegemony amply demonstrates that democracy, indeed Western-style democracy, can take root and flourish in the fertile soil of East Asia and offers the experience of Japan's opposition parties as crucial evidence of Japanese democracy. It will be essential reading for all those interested in the functioning of democracy in Asia and other non-Western settings.

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Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868–1964

Takashi Nishiyama

Naval, aeronautic, and mechanical engineers played a powerful part in the military buildup of Japan in the early and mid-twentieth century. They belonged to a militaristic regime and embraced the importance of their role in it. Takashi Nishiyama examines the impact of war and peace on technological transformation during the twentieth century. He is the first to study the paradoxical and transformative power of Japan’s defeat in World War II through the lens of engineering. Nishiyama asks: How did authorities select and prepare young men to be engineers? How did Japan develop curricula adequate to the task (and from whom did the country borrow)? Under what conditions? What did the engineers think of the planes they built to support Kamikaze suicide missions? But his study ultimately concerns the remarkable transition these trained engineers made after total defeat in 1945. How could the engineers of war machines so quickly turn to peaceful construction projects such as designing the equipment necessary to manufacture consumer products? Most important, they developed new high-speed rail services, including the Shinkansen Bullet Train. What does this change tell us not only about the Japan at war and then in peacetime but also about the malleability of engineering cultures? Nishiyama aims to counterbalance prevalent Eurocentric/Americentric views in the history of technology. Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868–1964 sets the historical experience of one country’s technological transformation in a larger international framework by studying sources in six different languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. The result is a fascinating read for those interested in technology, East Asia, and international studies. Nishiyama's work offers lessons to policymakers interested in how a country can recover successfully after defeat.

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Evaluating Evidence

A Positivist Approach to Reading Sources on Modern Japan

George Akita

Evaluating Evidence is based on the grueling lessons learned by a senior scholar during three decades of tutoring by, and collaboration with, Japanese historians. George Akita persisted in the difficult task of reading documentary sources in Japanese, most written in calligraphic style (sôsho), out of the conviction of their centrality to the historian’s craft and his commitment to a positivist methodology to research and scholarship. He argues forcefully in this volume for an inductive process in which the scholar seeks out facts on a subject and, through observation and examination of an extensive body of data, is able to discern patterns until it is possible to formulate certain propositions. In his introduction, Akita relates how and why he decided to adopt a positivist approach and explains what he means by the term as it applies to humanistic studies. He enumerates the difficulties linked with reading primary sources in Japanese by looking at a variety of unpublished and published materials and identifying a major problem in reading published primary sources: the intervention of editors and compilers. He illustrates the pitfalls of such intervention by comparing the recently published seventeen-volume diary of Prime Minister Hara Takashi (1856–1921), a photo reproduction of the diary in Hara’s own hand, and an earlier published version. Using documents related to Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a figure of central importance in Japan’s post-Restoration political history, he demonstrates the use of published and transcribed primary sources to sustain, question, or strengthen some of the themes and approaches adopted by non-Japanese scholars working on modern Japanese history. He ends his inquiry with two "case studies," examining closely the methods of the highly acclaimed American historians John W. Dower and Herbert P. Bix.

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Exporting Japan

Politics of Emigration to Latin America

Toake Endoh

Exporting Japan examines the domestic origins of the Japanese government's policies to promote the emigration of approximately three hundred thousand native Japanese citizens to Latin America between the 1890s and the 1960s. This imperialist policy, spanning two world wars and encompassing both the pre-World War II authoritarian government and the postwar conservative regime, reveals strategic efforts by the Japanese state to control its populace while building an expansive nation beyond its territorial borders. _x000B__x000B_Toake Endoh compellingly argues that Japan's emigration policy embodied the state's anxieties over domestic political stability and its intention to remove marginalized and radicalized social groups by relocating them abroad. Documenting the disproportionate focus of the southwest region of Japan as a source of emigrants, Endoh considers the state's motivations in formulating emigration policies that selected certain elements of the Japanese population for "export." She also recounts the situations migrants encountered once they reached Latin America, where they were often met with distrust and violence in the "yellow scare" of the pre-World War II period.

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The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami

Matthew Carl Strecher

In an “other world” composed of language—it could be a fathomless Martian well, a labyrinthine hotel or forest—a narrative unfolds, and with it the experiences, memories, and dreams that constitute reality for Haruki Murakami’s characters and readers alike. Memories and dreams in turn conjure their magical counterparts—people without names or pasts, fantastic animals, half-animals, and talking machines that traverse the dark psychic underworld of this writer’s extraordinary fiction.

Fervently acclaimed worldwide, Murakami’s wildly imaginative work in many ways remains a mystery, its worlds within worlds uncharted territory. Finally in this book readers will find a map to the strange realm that grounds virtually every aspect of Murakami’s writing. A journey through the enigmatic and baffling innermost mind, a metaphysical dimension where Murakami’s most bizarre scenes and characters lurk, The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami exposes the psychological and mythological underpinnings of this other world. Matthew Carl Strecher shows how these considerations color Murakami’s depictions of the individual and collective soul, which constantly shift between the tangible and intangible but in this literary landscape are undeniably real.

Through these otherworldly depths The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami also charts the writer’s vivid “inner world,” whether unconscious or underworld (what some Japanese critics call achiragawa, or “over there”), and its connectivity to language. Strecher covers all of Murakami’s work—including his efforts as a literary journalist—and concludes with the first full-length close reading of the writer’s newest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

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The Gates of Power

Monks, Courtiers and Warriors in Premodern Japan

Mikael S. Adolphson

The political influence of temples in premodern Japan, most clearly manifested in divine demonstrations—where rowdy monks and shrine servants brought holy symbols to the capital to exert pressure on courtiers—has traditionally been condemned and is poorly understood. In an impressive examination of this intriguing aspect of medieval Japan, the author employs a wide range of previously neglected sources to argue that religious protest was a symptom of political factionalism in the capital rather than its cause. It is his contention that religious violence can be traced primarily to attempts by secular leaders to rearrange religious and political hierarchies to their own advantage, thereby leaving disfavored religious institutions to fend for their accustomed rights and status. In this context, divine demonstrations became the preferred negotiating tool for monastic complexes. For almost three centuries, such strategies allowed a handful of elite temples to maintain enough of an equilibrium to sustain and defend the old style of rulership even against the efforts of the Ashikaga Shogunate in the mid-fourteenth century. By acknowledging temples and monks as legitimate co-rulers, The Gates of Power provides a new synthesis of Japanese rulership from the late Heian (794–1185) to the early Muromachi (1336–1573) eras, offering a unique and comprehensive analysis that brings together the spheres of art, religion, ideas, and politics in medieval Japan.

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Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium

edited by Susan L. Burns and Barbara J. Brooks

Beginning in the nineteenth century, law as practice, discourse, and ideology became a powerful means of reordering gender relations in modern nation-states and their colonies around the world. This volume puts developments in Japan and its empire in dialogue with this global phenomenon. Arguing against the popular stereotype of Japan as a non-litigious society, an international group of contributors from Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and the U.S., explores how in Japan and its colonies, as elsewhere in the modern world, law became a fundamental means of creating and regulating gendered subjects and social norms in the period from the 1870s to the 1950s. Rather than viewing legal discourse and the courts merely as technologies of state control, the authors suggest that they were subject to negotiation, interpretation, and contestation at every level of their formulation and deployment. With this as a shared starting point, they explore key issues such reproductive and human rights, sexuality, prostitution, gender and criminality, and the formation of the modern conceptions of family and conjugality, and use these issues to complicate our understanding of the impact of civil, criminal, and administrative laws upon the lives of both Japanese citizens and colonial subjects. The result is a powerful rethinking of not only gender and law, but also the relationships between the state and civil society, the metropole and the colonies, and Japan and the West.

Collectively, the essays offer a new framework for the history of gender in modern Japan and revise our understanding of both law and gender in an era shaped by modernization, nation and empire-building, war, occupation, and decolonization. With its broad chronological time span and compelling and yet accessible writing, Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium will be a powerful addition to any course on modern Japanese history and of interest to readers concerned with gender, society, and law in other parts of the world.

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Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan

Modernity, Loss, and the Doing of History

Jason G. Karlin

Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan is a historical analysis of the discourses of nostalgia in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japan. Through an analysis of the experience of rapid social change in Japan’s modernization, it argues that fads (ryūkō) and the desires they express are central to understanding Japanese modernity, conceptions of gender, and discourses of nationalism. In doing so, the author uncovers the myth of eternal return that lurks below the surface of Japanese history as an expression of the desire to find meaning amid the chaos and alienation of modern times. The Meiji period (1868–1912) was one of rapid change that hastened the process of forgetting: The state’s aggressive program of modernization required the repression of history and memory. However, repression merely produced new forms of desire seeking a return to the past, with the result that competing or alternative conceptions of the nation haunted the history of modern Japan. Rooted in the belief that the nation was a natural and organic entity that predated the rational, modern state, such conceptions often were responses to modernity that envisioned the nation in opposition to the modern state. What these visions of the nation shared was the ironic desire to overcome the modern condition by seeking the timeless past. While the condition of their repression was often linked to the modernizing policies of the Meiji state, the means for imagining the nation in opposition to the state required the construction of new symbols that claimed the authority of history and appealed to a rearticulated tradition. Through the idiom of gender and nation, new reified representations of continuity, timelessness, and history were fashioned to compensate for the unmooring of inherited practices from the shared locales of everyday life.

This book examines the intellectual, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the rapid spread of Western tastes and styles, along with the backlash against Westernization that was expressed as a longing for the past. By focusing on the expressions of these desires in popular culture and media texts, it reveals how the conflation of mother, countryside, everyday life, and history structured representations to naturalize ideologies of gender and nationalism.

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