Scholars, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, have studied the greater Taisho era (1900-1930) within the framework of Taisho demokurashii, or "Taisho democracy". While this concept has proved useful, students of the period in more recent years have sought alternative ways of understanding the late Meiji-Taisho period. This collection of essays, each based on original, new research, covers various aspects of modern Japanese cultural history. The volume is organized around three general topics: geographical and cultural space; cosmopolitanism and national identity; and diversity, autonomy, and integration. Within these the authors have identified a number of thematic tensions that link the essays: high and low culture in cultural production and dissemination; national and ethnic identities; empire and ethnicity; the center and the periphery; naichi (homeland) and gaichi (overseas); urban and rural; public and private; migration and barriers.
The volume opens up alternative avenues of exploration forthe study of modern Japanese history and culture. If, as one of the authors contends, the imperative is "to understand more fully the historical forces that made Japan what it is today", these studies of Japan's "competing modernities" open the way to answering some of the country's most challenging historical questions in this century.