Aizawa Kikutaro (1866-1963) was born into the wealthiest family in Hashimoto, a small agricultural village specializing in wheat and silk. By 1925, the village was undergoing rapid commercial development, residents were commuting to factory and office jobs in cities, and, after serving as mayor for almost twenty years, Aizawa was working as a bank manager. Taking the biography of this leading villager as its central focus and incorporating intimate details of life drawn from Aizawa's diary, The Mayor of Aihara chronicles the extraordinary transformation of Hashimoto against the background of Japan's rapid industrialization. By portraying history as it was actually lived by ordinary people, the book offers a rich and compelling perspective on the modernization of Japan.
Simon Partner, Associate Professor at Duke University, is author of Toshie: A Story of Rural Life in Twentieth Century Japan and Assembled in Japan: Electrical Goods and the Making of the Japanese Consumer (both from UC Press).
List of Illustrations Introduction 1. The Village Enters the Modern Era (1866 -- 1885) Born in Troubled Times Building a New Nation Hardship and Protest 2. From Farm Manager to Independent Landowner (1885 -- 1894) A Young Man of the Enlightenment Reaching Maturity in Momentous Times Toward Independence 3. For Village and Nation (1894 -- 1908) The Nation Comes of Age Politics on the Kanto Plain The Mantle of Responsibility The Hour of Need The Railway Comes to Hashimoto 4. The Mayor of Aihara (1908 -- 1918) Mayor of Aihara Technology and Change A Great Sadness 5. A World Transformed (1918 -- 1926) An Unprecedented Economy A Modern Village The World Turned Upside Down The Family Patriarch Conclusion Did Hashimoto Ever Become "Modern"? Villagers in Control of Their Destiny? The Meaning of a Life Notes Bibliography Index