A house is a site, the bounds and focus of a community. It is also an artifact, a material extension of its occupants’ lives. This book takes the Japanese house in both senses, as site and as artifact, and explores the spaces, commodities, and conceptions of community associated with it in the modern era.
As Japan modernized, the principles that had traditionally related house and family began to break down. Even where the traditional class markers surrounding the house persisted, they became vessels for new meanings, as housing was resituated in a new nexus of relations. The house as artifact and the artifacts it housed were affected in turn. The construction and ornament of houses ceased to be stable indications of their occupants’ social status, the home became a means of personal expression, and the act of dwelling was reconceived in terms of consumption. Amid the breakdown of inherited meanings and the fluidity of modern society, not only did the increased diversity of commodities lead to material elaboration of dwellings, but home itself became an object of special attention, its importance emphasized in writing, invoked in politics, and articulated in architectural design. The aim of this book is to show the features of this culture of the home as it took shape in Japan.
In this elegantly written study, Jordan Sand traces the ‘public construction of a private sphere’ by ‘people who embraced and were served by the idea of middle-classness’ in Japan from the 1880s to the 1920s… The reader comes away impressed by the depth, scope, and carefully considered arguments of this book. House and Home is essential reading for scholars of Japan as well as for those interested in the multiple constructions of domesticity across the globe. Sand has given readers many rooms to explore and many ideas on which to dwell.
In this compelling study of ‘house and home,’ which works from the basic premise that societies commonly project their values into space and architecture, Jordan Sand treats the Japanese house ‘as site and as artifact, and explores the spaces, commodities, and conceptions of community associated with it in the modern era’… Sand’s knowledge of the new ‘forms of everyday life’ that impacted people’s lives, together with his command of the subtle changes in Japan’s domestic material culture that these new designs engendered, lend his account credibility. Equally important, however, he craftily deploys over one hundred evocative illustrations that together enable us not merely to appreciate the impact the new designs, but literally to envision their significance.
Modernization happened in Japan quickly and vividly; but, interfaced with Westernization and the rising consciousness of national identity, it also redefined tradition and reappropriated it, and thus evolved an especially intricate history of domesticity, the central theme of this superb book… The book is staggeringly erudite but also refreshingly literate. Sand mastered a vast bibliography in Japanese and made full use of women’s magazines from the period, but his organization of the complex material into well-focused chapters is ingeniously clear. Essential for scholars on Japan but also highly recommended for all historians and sociologists interested in modernism, domesticity, urban culture, and architecture.
- 2004, Winner of the John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History
- 2005, Winner of the John Whitney Hall Book Prize
- 2005, Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award
- 482 pages
- 8 x 10 inches
- Harvard University Asia Center
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