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1920s Japan

The 1920s was a period of some confusion in Japanese society. The 1930s would be a period of militarization, a process started in the late 1920s with the growth of nationalism at the end of the Taisho period. The previous period, the Meiji, had seen great changes in the economic structure of Japan, and it was also an era when Japan opened to the rest of the world somewhat before closing up once more. Western influences in popular culture in the Taisho period in the 1920s created new tensions as national fervor produced a backlash and a consequent desire to promote and protect all things Japanese. Many of these social tensions are depicted in the novel Naomi, written in 1925 but not translated into English until 1985. Like the society he depicted in this novel, Tanizaki's work is marked by a mixture of Japanese and Western literary elements, though at different times in his professional life he would accept or reject Western influences while developing his own unique Japanese literary structures.

Western influences in Japan started in the Tokugawa period in the middle of the nineteenth century and continued in varying strengths through much of the Taisho period. The last half of the Tokugawa period began in the middle of the eighteenth century, and this was also the era of the rise of industrialism in Europe. Japan during this era maintained her policy of seclusion. A change came about in 1858 when Japan signed commercial treaties with five countries, less as a choice than because it was increasingly apparent that Japan could no longer avoid freer trade with foreign nations. Takao Tsuchiya points out that this change would create an influence that was enormous: The Japanese feudal economic order which was already on the verge of bankruptcy had to be swiftly revolutionized. Moreover. . . Japan now had to transform her economic life quickly into a modern capitalistic system (Tsuchiya, 1936, 21-22).

The speed of the tran...

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1920s Japan. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:15, February 22, 2017, from