Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan

By Louise Young | Go to book overview

FOUR
The Past in the Present

The urban juggernaut of the early twentieth century created new challenges for cities as they tried to deal with the dramatic changes in everyday life. Former castle towns, battered by Meiji reforms that had undercut the towns’ source of feudal privilege, recovered and began to grow at a swift pace.1 The population churn generated by an increasingly mobile labor force destabilized urban communities, as newcomers to the city constituted an increasing share of the local demographic. The city became a melting pot, dissolving the social memory of the community that rested on the geographic stability of successive generations of residents. In the meantime, the establishment of modern industry undermined the economic foundations of city life and gave rise to new occupational structures and economic geographies. As the communications revolution expanded the territorial jurisdiction of the city, and as the building boom of the teens and twenties remade its built environment, the predictability and familiarity of the cityscape seemed to disappear.

Such changes created a crisis of socialization for municipal governments. Their toolbox of policies for managing social tensions had little effect in the new environment, because existing mechanisms to moderate social behavior and guide individuals to conform to norms of public order could no longer function as they once had. As increasingly clamorous social groups competed for public space and political representation, for access to resources and city services, new questions arose: Whose city was it going to be? How could these antagonistic forces be reconfigured into a workable social unit? One response to these questions emerged in the context of regional culture movements, where visions of local community provided new grounds upon which to build a sense of belonging. As they cast about for material from which to

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Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part One - Contexts 1
  • Introduction - Urbanism and Japanese Modern 3
  • One - World War One and the City Idea 15
  • Part Two - Geo-Power and Urban-Centrism 35
  • Two - The Ideology of the Metropolis 37
  • Three - Colonizing the Country 83
  • Part Three - Modern Times and the City Idea 139
  • Four - The Past in the Present 141
  • Five - The Cult of the New 188
  • Epilogue - Urbanism and Twentieth-Century Japan 240
  • Notes 259
  • Bibliography 287
  • Index 297
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