E. Taylor Atkins, A History of Popular Culture in Japan. From the Seventeenth Century to the Present, Bloomsbury, 2022.
The phenomenon of ‘Cool Japan’ is one of the distinctive features of global popular culture of the millennial age. A History of Popular Culture in Japan provides the first historical and analytical overview of popular culture in Japan from its origins in the 17th century to the present day, using it to explore broader themes of conflict, power, identity and meaning in Japanese history.
E. Taylor Atkins shows how Japan is one of the earliest sites for the development of mass-produced, market-oriented cultural products consumed by urban middle and working classes. The best-known traditional arts and culture of Japan- no theater, monochrome ink painting, court literature, poetry and indigenous music-inhabited a world distinct from that of urban commoners, who fashioned their own expressive forms and laid the groundwork for today’s ‘gross national cool.’ Popular culture was pivotal in the rise of Japanese nationalism, imperialism, militarism, postwar democracy and economic development.
Offering historiographical and analytical frameworks for understanding its subject, A History of Popular Culture in Japan synthesizes the latest scholarship from a variety of disciplines. It is a vital resource for students of Japanese cultural history wishing to gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s contributions to global cultural heritage.
1. The Worst to be Said and Thought?-Defining Popular Culture
2. Floating Worlds-The Birth of Popular Culture in Japan
3. Delicate Dancing-Early Modern Japan’s Culture Wars
4. Popular Culture as Subject and Object of Meiji Modernization
5. Cultural Living-Cosmopolitan Modernism in Imperial Japan
6. Entertaining Empire-Popular Culture as a “Technology of Imperialism”
7. “Our Spirit Against Their Steel”-Mobilizing Culture for War
8. Democracy, Monstrosity and Pensive Prosperity-Postwar Pop
9. Millennial Japan as Dream Factory