Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road

Synopsis

Increased use of mass transportation in the early twentieth century enabled men and women of different social classes to interact in ways they had not before. Using a cultural studies approach that combines historical research and literary analysis, author Alisa Freedman investigates fictional, journalistic, and popular culture depictions of how mass transportation changed prewar Tokyo's social fabric and artistic movements, giving rise to gender roles that have come to characterize modern Japan.

Freedman persuasively argues that, through descriptions of trains and buses, stations, transport workers, and passengers, Japanese authors responded to contradictions in Tokyo's urban modernity and exposed the effects of rapid change on the individual. She shines a light on how prewar transport culture anticipates what is fascinating and frustrating about Tokyo today, providing insight into how people make themselves at home in the city. An approachable and enjoyable book, Tokyo in Transit offers an exciting ride through modern Japanese literature and culture, and includes the first English translation of Kawabata Yasunari's The Corpse Introducer, a 1929 crime novella that presents an important new side of its Nobel Prizewinning author.