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Modernity at Home: The Body, Taste and Middle-class Lives in Japan, 1890-1939

Nozawa, Shuntaro (2015) Modernity at Home: The Body, Taste and Middle-class Lives in Japan, 1890-1939. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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This study explores the subtle relationship between middle-class lives and domestic architecture in modern Japan. I revisit the fifty-year period, 1890-1939, when Japan saw the rise of mass production and mass media, focusing on changing attitudes towards the body, space and family relations from a social-anthropological viewpoint. My particular interest is the duality of taste. There was the public taste being widely circulated and objectified as a prevailing floor arrangement of a house, whilst ordinary people personalised it through economic practices and appropriated the interiors based on their own tastes. This study revolves around the shaping of the dual meanings of the term shumi. From the late 1900s onward, an active involvement in shumi (recreations) was increasingly recognised as a vehicle which enabled people to internalise a good shumi (taste) in the private sphere. This conceptualisation stood on an adherence to Romanticism and new awareness of personal expressions including clothing and furnishing as mirrors of individuality. In other words, the Japanese were motived to become ‘individuals’ through the refinement of shumi in both taste and recreation. A growing number of the middle classes were keen to consume recreational activities, and their constructed subjectivity began to play a key role in ‘leisurising’ domestic spaces to achieve the Romanticised ideal of ‘home’ in an era of capitalism. This study examines the advice manuals, women’s press, publicity of private homebuilders and old questionnaires surveying uses of rooms of middle-class dwellings, to demonstrate the homogeneity as well as multiplicity in terms of how domestic and ‘leisurised’ spaces were perceived. I believe that the coexistence of various perspectives towards the built forms echoed differences in needs, preferences and tastes and was the quality discerned as modernity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: modernity, taste, Japan, housing, family, leisure, Romanticism, social anthropology
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.666650
Depositing User: Dr Shuntaro Nozawa
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2015 11:32
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10179

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