Consumption, Consumerism, and Japanese Modernity

Andrew Gordon

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561216
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Consumption, Consumerism, and Japanese Modernity


The experience of people in Japan offers a rich body of evidence for a comparative and global study of consumption from early modern, through modern times, and to the postmodern period. One finds ample grist for the mill of economic historians seeking to measure the extent and the shifts in consumption of all manner of goods and services. One also finds sources in abundance from the seventeenth century onwards speaking to the politics and culture of regulating, lamenting, and celebrating consumption. Building on early modern foundations, consumption expanded in the era of self-conscious modernization that followed the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate (1868), with a turn to new goods alongside more widespread use of customary ones. As this happened, attitudes in Japan evolved as part of a global dialogue on consumer life. This article explores consumption, consumerism, modernity, and the post-war ascendance of consumers in Japan.

Keywords: Japan; consumption; consumerism; modernity; consumers; Tokugawa shogunate; consumer life

Article.  10125 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »