1st Edition

Urban Culture in Pre-War Japan

By Adam Croft Copyright 2019
    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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 military chronicles based on traditions of popular storytelling found in the yose — a network of small theatrical venues that provided the masses living and working in Japan’s major cities with affordable entertainment. Capitalising on local advances in Western-style printing, the series facilitated a ‘new wave’ of literature that appealed especially to young, marginalised, economically-insecure urban youths. This book discusses how the narrative content of the Tatsukawa Library, which focuses on historical samurai struggling valiantly against adverse circumstances, helped inspire a generation with admiration for violence. This work also examines how this outlook fitted with the Japanese state’s reintroduction of imperial propaganda.

    1. Introduction: Contextualising the Tatsukawa Bunko, 2. Transitional Literature: Advances in Popular Publishing, 3. Human Networks: Cholera, Mass Migration, & Publishing Rivalries, 4. Resonant Voices: Performative Traditions in a Time of Mass Media, 5.Hyper-masculinity in Sarutobi-Sasuke: Decoding Transcultural Influences in the Text, 6. Reflections of Industrial Urbanism: Hyper-masculinity & Social Violence During the Taishō Era


    Adam Croft is an Honorary Lecturer in the School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, Canberra.