The rise of a mass consumer society and the spread of commercialized leisure are aspects of global modernity in the 20th century. In Japan, these phenomena emerged to prominence in the transwar decades from the 1920s through the 1960s. This essay argues that the ascendance of middle-class lifeways, consumption and leisure prominent among them, took place through a process that involved the transposing of difference as much as the diffusing of sameness. It identifies a causal dynamic in ‘transwar’ history, which extends the concept beyond political economy and beyond the simple claim that continuities stretch across the purported break of World War II.
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