Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930


Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930 traces the shifting nature of autonomy in early modern and modern Japan. In this far-reaching, interdisciplinary study, W. Puck Brecher explores the historical development of the private and its evolving relationship with public authority, a dynamic that evokes stereotypes about an alleged dearth of individual agency in Japanese society. It does so through a montage of case studies. For the early modern era, case studies examine peripheral living spaces, boyhood, and self-interrogation in the arts. For the modern period, they explore strategic deviance, individuality in Meiji education, modern leisure, and body-maintenance. Analysis of these disparate private realms illuminates evolving conceptualizations of the private and its reciprocal yet often-contested relationship to the state.

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W. Puck Brecher (Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2005) is Professor of Japanese History at Washington State University. He has authored three monographs and numerous articles on early modern and modern Japanese cultural history.
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Contextualizing the Private Sphere in Japanese History

1 Introduction
The Private “Problem”br/>  1 Contexts of Privacy in Modernizing Japan
 2 Challenges and Methodologies

2 Public and Private in Pre-Meiji Thought and Society
 1 Introduction
 2 Public and Private in the Japanese Context
 3 Public and Private in the Medieval Period
 4 Public and Private in the Edo Period

3 The Private Self and the Meiji-Taisho State
 1 The Individual’s Relationship to the State
 2 Prescribed Private Spheres: Religion, the Home, and Leisure
 3 Historiography on Modern Japan’s Private Spheres

The Autonomous Self in the Edo Period (1600–1868)

4 Peripheries as Private Spheres
 1 Everything in Its Place: City, Suburb, Countryside
 2 Kōetsumura
 3 Itami
  3.1 Itami Saké
  3.2 The Itami Salon
 4 Negishi
  4.1 Negishi as a Homegrown Living Space
  4.2 Resignation and Reclusion

5 Boyhood as an Autonomous Sphere
 1 Introduction
 2 Practical Childrearing
 3 Diaries
 4 Role Models and the Moral Authority of the Private

6 “Publicizing” the Private
 Self-Interrogation and Self-Indulgence in the Arts
 1 Human Difference in Early Modern Thought
 2 The Self-Interrogation of Hakuin (1685–1768) and Kinkoku (1761–1832)
 3 Self and Self-Portraiture
 4 Master Depravity and the Self as Spectacle

Public and Private Selves in Meiji and Taisho (1868–1926)

7 The Deviant in Meiji Society
Autonomy, Individuality, and Public Power

 1 Meiji’s New Normal
 2 Loser Literature
 3 Anguished Art
 4 Ideology and Rupture: Eccentricity and Its Place in Meiji’s Cultural Field

8 The Private Individual in Early Meiji Education (1872–1890s)
 1 The Individual in Early Meiji Education
 2 On the Practice of Keeping Individuality Charts
 3 Early Student Charts in the United States
 4 Individuality as Control

9 Education and Public Individuality (1890s–1927)
 1 Kosei in Public Education
 2 Changes in Student Evaluations
 3 Kosei as “Public Individuality”

The Nationalization of Private Leisure (1868–1930s)

10 Vacationing and Moral Authority
 1 School Summer Vacations
 2 Moral Authority and Vacationing for Adults
 3 Ambivalence and Contestation

11 Nationalizing the Body
Physical Exercise as a Public Ethic
 1 “Civilizing” the Physical Body
 2 Western Athletics
 3 Public Fitness as Statecraft (1920s~)

12 Conclusion
Can Modern Japan’s Private Spheres Be Moral?
 1 Reconciliations of Self and State



All interested in Japan and its history. The book is particularly relevant to those interested in the history of autonomy, privacy, individuality, education, art, leisure, and modernization in Japan.
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