Urban Culture in Pre-War Japan

1st Edition

Adam Thorin Croft

May 27, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 256 Pages - 12 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781138392014 - CAT# K400146
Series: Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia


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Politically the 1910s and 1920s were dark days for Japan: economic instability, frequent political assassinations, and increasing violent military interventions at home and overseas affected many. This book explores the literature of the period, showing how it contributed to this overall mood. It focuses on the Tatsukawa Library, an unusual collection of historical military chronicles based on traditions of popular storytelling found in yose (vaudeville theatres) — a network of small theatrical venues that provided the masses living and working in Japan’s major cities with affordable entertainment. The extreme popularity of the Tatsukawa Library capitalised on local advances in Western-style printing, which facilitated a new wave of literature that appealed especially to young, marginalised, economically-insecure urban youths. It discusses how the content of the books, which focused on historical samurai struggling heroically against adverse circumstances, helped inculcate the generation that fought for Japan’s emerging empire with admiration for marital violence. This book also examines how this outlook fitted with the Japanese state’s own outlook and official propaganda.

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