Japan's momentous Showa era began in 1926, when Emperor Hirohito ascended the throne, and ended with his death in 1989. This was a tumultuous period in modern Japanese history—a time of great disaster and tremendous triumph for Japan.
This book focuses on the post-war period in Japan when the nation stood at the zenith of her economic power. Today, the term Showa is shorthand for a glamorous period in which, all too briefly, Japan was the richest nation on earth and the envy of the developed world. A growing nostalgia for this period is now memorialized in Japan in a national holiday. It was an era of stratospheric growth which saw Japan's transition from an isolated, impoverished nation to a peaceful one holding an exalted position as the world's second largest economy.
But what is the true meaning of the Showa era, and what is its legacy for the Japanese today? In Showa Japan, Hans Brinckmann provides a clear-eyed exploration of the Showa period as it really was—not just a time of wondrous change but of wild excesses that would eventually come crashing down with the bursting of Japan's economic bubble—exactly as occurred in the rest of the world, but almost 20 years earlier! From the heights of extravagance to the lean years that followed, Brinkmann, a long-time resident of Japan, examines the impact of the Showa era and its aftermath on every aspect of Japanese society.
Featuring dozens of period photographs, interviews, and a wealth of factual information and personal reflections, this book provides an in-depth portrait of a Japan that once was—as well as a blueprint for one that might still be, if only the lessons of the past could be learned.
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Japan's Showa era began in 1926 when Emperor Hirohito took the throne and ended on his death in 1989. The formative age of modern Japan, it was undoubtedly the most momentous, calamitous, successful and glamorous period in Japan's recent history. Today, Showa is a beacon for nostalgia that is memorialized yearly in a national holiday. An era of growth and prosperity, it saw Japan go from an isolated, embattled nation to a peaceful country holding the exalted position of the world's second largest economy.
Showa Japan is a clear-sighted exploration of the Showa era as it really was—not only a time of wondrous change, security and growth, but also a time of wild spending and excesses in every field that would eventually come crashing to a halt with the bursting of Japan's bubble economy. From the highs of Showa-era extravagance to the lows of the lean years that followed, author Hans Brinckmann, a long-time resident of Japan, examines the impact of the Showa era and its aftermath on every aspect of Japanese society.
Hans Brinckmann, born in The Hague in 1932, joined a Dutch bank at age 17 for their Far Eastern management training program. The following year he was assigned to Singapore, and four months later to Japan, where he would stay for the next 24 years. After completing a career that took him to the Caribbean, Holland, and New York—interrupted by a two-year interlude in England devoted to writing—he quit banking for good in 1988, and now lives in Tokyo and London. He is the author of The Magatama Doodle: One Man's Affair with Japan, 1950u2004 and Noon Elusive, a collection of short stories. He can also be found at www.habri.co.uk and, in Japanese, at http://habri.jp.
Ysbrand Rogge lived in Japan from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, working for the same bank as Brinckmann. He left banking in 1960 to devote himself to photography and documentary filmmaking, subsequently producing several films on Japanese subjects, some of which were shown on Dutch television. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) used footage from his work in a 2005 Showa documentary. He is a prolific writer on subjects ranging from Islam and parapsychology to collecting vintage film apparatus.
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