Chapter

Down-and-Out Grotesquerie

Miriam Silverberg

in Erotic Grotesque Nonsense

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520222731
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924628 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520222731.003.0008
Down-and-Out Grotesquerie

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Asakusa grotesquerie must be defined by the tensions embodied in the coexistence of dire poverty with leisure, of resistance with surveillance, of unprecedented (capitalist and anticapitalist) attitudes with older forms of relationships, and of desperation with humor. Although it was a playground for those enriched by capitalism, it was also the home of Tokyo's beggar and vagrant culture. This chapter suggests how Asakusa was not a hermetically closed free space, but a part of the montage of social relationships throughout the Japanese nation during the modern years. An examination of the cultural practices of each group within Asakusa reveals the tense relationship between agency and surveillance within one space, and the series of transformations in social relationships within Asakusa after the Meiji Restoration, the earthquake of 1923, and the onset of the depression in 1927.

Keywords: vagrant culture; beggar culture; Asakusa grotesquerie; poverty; Meiji Restoration; social relationships

Chapter.  12420 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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