Review Of "House And Home In Modern Japan: Architecture, Domestic Space And Bourgeois Culture, 1880-1930" By J. Sand

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Modernization happened in Japan quickly and vividly; but, interfaced with Westernization and the rising consciousness of national identity, it also redefined tradition and reappropriated it, and thus evolved an especially intricate history of domesticity, the central theme of this superb book. Sand (Japanese history and culture, Georgetown Univ.) considers not only the house "as site and as artifact," but discusses a dazzling array of social changes: the middle class, the family, the woman's role, kitchen technology, marketing of taste and consumerism, lexical innovations, suburban developments, everyday lifestyle, cultural aspirations, and house design and productions, among others; the phrase Wayō-setchū (combined Japanese-Western style) encapsulates and unifies these changes. The book is staggeringly erudite but also refreshingly literate. Sand mastered a vast bibliography in Japanese and made full use of women's magazines from the period, but his organization of the complex material into well-focused chapters is ingeniously clear. Essential for scholars on Japan but also highly recommended for all historians and sociologists interested in modernism, domesticity, urban culture, and architecture. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals.


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