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

By Louise Young | Go to book overview

FIVE
The Cult of the New

The social and cultural movements of the interwar years expressed a fascination with “the new”—the new products, new fads, new pastimes, new lifestyles, and new types of men and women that erupted onto the urban landscape, only to be replaced with the new “new.” The regional turn reflected in the local-history movement also expressed itself through an upsurge of interest in what the face of the urban future would look like. The tourist industry, town planning, industrial exhibitions, and other forms of local boosterism promoted the locality and its capacity for progress and development. Guidebooks trumpeted the modern face of the city, pointing with pride to the transformation of the built environment and its iconic symbols—new meisho such as department stores and station buildings. City fathers celebrated their locales as technotopias filled with engineering wonders—multistoried buildings, elevators, and escalators; and magical instruments like telescopes and radios—holding out a tantalizing vision of an uncertain future controlled by technology.

Such celebratory visions of the destiny of the modern city were reinforced by broader intellectual trends that oriented people toward the future. Systematic attempts to study and chart the course of “fashion” guided department stores in their plans to develop markets for consumer goods.1 A new mania for government planning expressed itself in the rise of town plans, economic plans, and plans to rehabilitate villages. A boom in popular science and science fiction created what Hiromi Mizuno called the “mobilization of wonder” in the service of nationalism.2 A new faith in the efficacy of measurement and prediction, statistics, and prognostication took root in the social sciences, management ideology, and government policy.3 All these developments shaped a habit of thinking forward and fueled the collective imagination about the future.

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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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