Louise Young, "Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan" (U California Press, 2013)

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During the interwar period (1918-1937), the city began to take its modern shape in Japan. At the same time, development in the Japanese provinces became a capitalist frontier in a new phase of industrial revolution. In Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan (University of California Press, 2013), Louise Young traces these phenomena in an innovative and fluid narrative that is also a pleasure to read. Young shifts our focus beyond Tokyo, the city that usually looms large in studies of Japanese modernity, and instead explores the worlds and the archives of the provincial city. Focusing on Sapporo, Kanazawa, Okayama, and Niigata, Young's book is a fascinating study of the city as material network and social imaginary. The narrative celebrates and respects local differences in these very different urban localities, while at the same time tracing the emergence of shared spatial and temporal ways of living in the world. It is a careful, sensitive, and important study, and it changed the way I think about locality and Japan in history. Enjoy!

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