SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Between Imperial Capital and World City: The Tourist's Tokyo a Century Ago

20151014 MJ lecture
Jordan Sand (Georgetown University)

Date: 14 October 2015Time: 6:15 PM

Finishes: 14 October 2015Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


In anticipation of the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo, the city is busily making preparations to play host to visitors from around the world. The present campaign to enhance Tokyo's appeal for foreign tourists provides a fitting opportunity to review what kind of a tourist destination Tokyo was in generations past. It also happens that 2020 will mark the centenary of Meiji Shrine, which has been one of the city's most popular sites to visit since its completion in 1920. This lecture will explore how Tokyo appeared to tourists a century ago. Tokyo at the time was the capital of a young colonial empire. Tokyo tourism thus targeted visitors from the colonies as well as from overseas. Japan in 1920 strove to display Tokyo's position as an imperial capital with the same energy Japan today seeks to demonstrate to the world Tokyo's present status as a cosmopolitan world city.

Speaker Biography

Jordan Sand is Associate Professor of Japanese History and Culture at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He teaches modern Japanese history and other topics in East Asian history, as well as urban history and the world history of food. He has a doctorate in history from Columbia University and an MA in architecture history from the University of Tokyo. His research and writing has focused on architecture, urbanism, material culture and the history of everyday life. House and Home in Modern Japan (Harvard, 2004) explores the ways that westernizing reformers reinvented Japanese domestic space and family life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His most recent book, Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects (University of California Press, 2013), analyzes problems of history and memory in the postindustrial city. He has also examined the comparative history of urban fires and firefighting, the modernization and globalization of Japanese food (including sushi, miso, and MSG), and the history of furniture and interiors, and topics in the study of heritage and museums. He is presently working on a study of manifestations of colonialism in physical forms ranging from bodily comportment to urban planning.

From 2009 through 2011, he served as Chair of Georgetown's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. During the academic year 2012-13, he was a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Information Studies, where he taught a seminar on approaches to the modern city.

Organiser: Japan Research Centre and Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC)

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Sponsor: Meiji Jingu