1st Edition

A Cultural History of Postwar Japan Rethinking Kasutori Society

By Oliviero Frattolillo Copyright 2023

    This book is a political and cultural history of the early postwar Japan aiming at exploring how the perception and cultural values of everyday life in the country changed along with the rise of the kasutori culture. Such a process was closely tied with both a refusal of the samurai culture and the interwar debate on modernity, and it resulted in a decadent way of life, exemplified by intellectuals such as Sakaguchi Ango.

    It depicts a short-lived radical cultural and social alternative, one that forced people to rethink their relationship to the kokutai, modernity, social roles, daily practices, and the production of knowledge. The subjectivity and daily practices in those years were more important in shaping the cultural identities of the Japanese than the new public ideology of the nation. This challenges some Euro-American historical notions that the new private sphere has emerged in Japan as an effect of the country’s Americanization, rather than from within it. This work not only looks at the immediate aftermath of WWII from the perspective of Japan, but also tries to rethink Westernization in the light of its global appropriation.

    This volume is addressed to specialists of Japanese or Asian history, but it will also attract historians of the United States and readers from political and intellectual history, cultural studies, and historiography in general.

    Introduction. 1. Japan’s modern/modernized subjectivity 2. Americanized Japanese? Questioning the unquestionable 3. To forget or not forget? Japan as the place of desire 4. Portraits of decadence in ‘Moonshine Japan’. Epilogue - Could you call us human and humanist, please?


    Oliviero Frattolillo is Associate Professor of East Asian history at the Department of Politics, Roma Tre University. He is the author of Reassessing Japan’s Cold War: Ikeda Hayato’s Foreign Politics and Proactivism During the 1960s (2020), Diplomacy in Japan-EU Relations: From the Cold War to the Post-Bipolar Era (2013), and Interwar Japan Beyond the West: The Search for a New Subjectivity in World History (2012), and co-editor of Japan and the Great War (2015). He is co-editor of the book series New Directions in East Asian History (Palgrave Macmillan, Shanghai). He is Visiting Professor at the History Department, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Philadelphia, and Visiting Fellow at the Department of Law, Keio University, Tokyo.

    Professor Frattolillo has written a "must read" book on postwar Japanese history. He challenges dominant narratives of Americanization and the success story of democratization to reveal how Japanese people in the postwar period engaged in kasutori culture as a form of resistance.  One of the most creative, original histories of postwar Japan I have seen.

    • Kevin M. Doak

    Professor of Japanese Studies

    Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

    Georgetown University, Washington, DC 


    Oliviero Frattolillo looks at the immediate aftermath of WWII from the perspective of Japan and argues that a new private sphere emerged from within the society rather than as the result of the country’s Americanization. A brilliant pioneering work on Japan’s kasutori culture.

    • Goto-Shibata Harumi

    Professor of International History

    Department of Advanced Social and International Studies

    The University of Tokyo


    Oliviero Frattolillo superbly explores the external and internal processes of changes culminating in the kasutori culture, taking readers on a fascinating journey into the world of defeated Japan. This book surprisingly offers an enlightening and compelling contribution on one of the most controversial period of modern Japanese history.

    • Florentino Rodao

    Professor of Japanese history

    Department of International Relations and Global History

    Complutense University of Madrid