By the late twentieth century, Japanese people were renowned as the world's most avid and knowledgeable consumers of fashion, luxury and quality, while the goods that embodied their tastes and lifestyle were becoming a part of global culture. Penelope Francks' book offers an alternative account of Japan's modern economic history from the perspective of the consumer. Tracing Japan's economy from the eighteenth century to the present, she shows how history has conditioned what Japanese people consume and compares their experiences with those of Europe and North America. In so doing the author presents a lucid and informed account of everyday life in Japan, exploring what people eat, how they dress, the household goods they acquire, and their preferred shopping and leisure activities. This beautifully illustrated book succeeds in making economic history palatable and entertaining. It will be a treat for students and all those interested in Japanese society and culture.
Penelope Francks is an Honorary Lecturer in Japanese Studies in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Leeds. Her recent publications include Rural Economic Development in Japan (2006).
1. Japan and the history of consumption; 2. Shopping in the city: urban life and the emergence of the consumer in Tokugawa Japan; 3. Country gentlemen, ordinary consumption and the development of the rural economy; 4. 'Civilising goods': consumption in the industrialising world; 5. Living with modernity: the emerging consumer of the inter-war years; 6. The electrical household: consumption and the economic miracle; 7. New tribes and nostalgia: consumption in the late twentieth century and beyond; 8. The Japanese consumer past and present.