Much of the existing writing on Japan's economic rise has concentrated on the production of goods, and has largely neglected the role of the consumers and users of the expanding output of Japanese businesses and workers. While historians of Europe and North America have opened up the 'world of goods' and its role in industrialisation and modernisation, Japan is often seen as having little consumption history of its own, distinct from Western paths of development. This volume seeks to change this picture, and brings together studies by Japanese, British and American historians that combine economic, social and cultural analysis of the distinctive historical pathways of consumption in Japan.
Chapters focus on the interactions among individuals, institutions and social structures that have determined the changing pattern of everyday life in Japan since the nineteenth century, viewing consumption history through contexts that range from household labour allocation and gender relations to fashion, food and leisure. The collection thus aims both to broaden the comparative framework within which global consumption history can be studied and to demonstrate some of the ways in which Japanese consumer life followed its own course throughout the process of economic development.