Modernization and the Department Store in Early 20th Century Japan: Modern Girl and New Consumer Culture Lifestyles

Tamari, Tomoko. 2018. Modernization and the Department Store in Early 20th Century Japan: Modern Girl and New Consumer Culture Lifestyles. In: Krasteva-Blagoeva Evgenia, ed. Approaching Consumer Culture. Basel: Springer, pp. 237-255. ISBN 978-3-030-00226-8 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This paper focuses on the way in which the department store became a key site for the constitution of Japanese modernity in early 20th century Japan. The first Japanese department store, Mitsukoshi not only provided new goods along with pragmatic ideas of how to use and how to evaluate them, but also sought to promote images and advice on how to integrate the ‘new’ into existing lifestyles and value systems. Mitsukoshi offered a new type of consumer experience to explore how ‘to be modern’. This can be well tuned with the government policy, ‘reform of everyday life’ which encouraged people to be more efficient and rational in everyday practices. This policy was also well-fitted to new middle class who sought to new lifestyle which would be modern. To be modern was particularly important for urban working woman who was often seen as a modern girl. Department store provided them with not only a set of ideas to be modern, but also a new aestheticized urban consumer space as a stage to perform. Hence, Mitsukoshi served both as a political device to create modern citizen and as a cultural device to produce modern consumers in political and cultural transition era of Japanese modernization.

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Book Section

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Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


20 October 2017Accepted
2 November 2018Published

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05 Nov 2018 13:09

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02 Nov 2020 02:26


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