Yulia Frumer’s new book follows roughly three hundred years of transformations in how time was conceptualized, measured, and materialized in Japan. Making Time: Astronomical Time Measurement in Tokugawa Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2018) charts a “profound shift in attitude toward foreign technology” between the 16th century (when European devices arrived in Japan) and reforms to the traditional temporal system in 1873. While it provides an exceptionally rich and focused case study grounded in careful research with Japanese documents and material objects, Frumer’s book also offers a critical analysis of what it is that we’re doing when we study the relationship between societies and technologies that has potentially far-reaching consequences well beyond the history of Japan.
Carla Nappi is the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. You can learn more about her and her work here.