Images of the city in literature and film help constitute the experience of modern life. Studies of the Japanese city have focused on Tokyo, but a fuller understanding of urban space and life requires analysis of other cities, beginning with Osaka. Japan's "merchant capital" in the late sixteenth century, Osaka remained an industrial center--the "Manchester of the East"--into the 1930s, developing a distinct urban culture to rival Tokyo's. It therefore represents a critical site of East Asian modernity. Osaka Modern maps the city as imagined in Japanese popular culture from the 1920s to the 1950s, a city that betrayed the workings of imperialism and asserted an urban identity alternative to--even subversive of--national identity.
Osaka Modern brings an appreciation of this imagined city's emphatic locality to: popular novels by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro , favorite son Oda Sakunosuke, and best-seller Yamasaki Toyoko; films by Toyoda Shiro and Kawashima Yu zo ; and contemporary radio, television, music, and comedy. Its interdisciplinary approach creates intersections between Osaka and various theoretical concerns--everyday life, coloniality, masculinity, translation--to produce not only a fresh appreciation of key works of literature and cinema, but also a new focus for these widely-used critical approaches.