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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the seemingly self-evident and yet contested relations between modernization, modernism, modernity, and cinema in interwar Japan. It focuses on the Tokyo March (Tokyo koshinkyoku) phenomena constituted of the well-known 1929 popular song and its accompanying media texts, particularly the film adaptation directed by Mizoguchi Kenji. Made at the time of multidimensional crisis-class struggle, political polarization, and culture war-in modern Japanese history, the Tokyo March texts went beyond mere emblems of modan (modern) or modanizumu (modernism), surface inscriptions of changing social mores in a big city. A close historical look at contemporary discourse reveals that, in the realm of mass culture, they articulated sensorial alienation caused by industrial capitalism by politicizing the city symphony format through montage, an idiom of Soviet avant-garde, and thereby condensed the possibilities and limitations of Japanese modernity itself.

Keywords: Tokyo March, modernism, modernity, modernization, montage, representation of Tokyo, city symphony, Kenji Mizoguchi

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