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Japan Research Centre

Publications

The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojiro
The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojiro

Author: Dodd, Stephen
University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014

The Youth of Things is the first full-length book devoted to Kajii Motojirō. It brings together English translations of nearly all his completed stories with an analysis of his literature in the context of several major themes that locate him in 1920s Japan. In particular, Dodd links the writer’s work with the physical body: Kajii’s subjective literary presence was grounded first and foremost in his TB-stricken physical body, hence one cannot be studied without the other. His concerns with health and mortality drove him to play a central role in constructing a language for modern literature and to offer new insights into ideas that intrigued so many other Taishō intellectuals and writers. In addition, Kajii’s early years as a writer were strongly influenced by the cosmopolitan humanism of the White Birch (Shirakaba) school, but by the time his final work was published in the early 1930s, an environment of greater cultural introspection was beginning to take root, encapsulated in the expression “return to Japan” (nihon kaiki). Only a few years separate these two moments in time, but they represent a profound shift in the aspirations and expectations of a whole generation of writers. Through a study of Kajii’s writing, this book offers some sense of the demise of one cultural moment and the creation of another.

 

Kristin Surak book pic
Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice

Surak, Kristin
Stanford University Press, 2012

Although few non-Japanese scholars have peered behind the walls of a tea room, sociologist Kristin Surak came to know the inner workings of the tea world over the course of ten years of tea training. Here she offers the first comprehensive analysis of the practice that includes new material on its historical changes, a detailed excavation of its institutional organization, and a careful examination of what she terms "nation-work"—the labor that connects the national meanings of a cultural practice and the actual experience and enactment of it. She concludes by placing tea ceremony in comparative perspective, drawing on other expressions of nation-work, such as gymnastics and music, in Europe and Asia.

Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble by Christopher Gerteis and Timothy S. George
Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble

Editor(s): Christopher Gerteis, Timothy S. George
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013

Does Japan really matter anymore? The challenges of recent Japanese history have led some pundits and scholars to publicly wonder whether Japan's significance is starting to wane. The multidisciplinary essays that comprise Japan Since 1945 demonstrate its ongoing importance and relevance. Examining the historical context to the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of Japan's postwar development, the contributors re-engage earlier discourses and introduce new veins of research.

Japan Since 1945 provides a much needed update to existing scholarly work on the history of contemporary Japan. It moves beyond the 'lost decade' and 'terrible devastation' frameworks that have thus far defined too much of the discussion, offering a more nuanced picture of the nation's postwar development.