In 1929, the Victor Talking Machine Co. of Japan released a record featuring “Tokyo March,” which ultimately became one of the very first “hit” songs produced by the Japanese pop music industry. Almost 20 years later, in 1947, Columbia Records Japan released “Tokyo Boogie-Woogie,” which is recalled to this day as a song that emblematized Japan’s transformation under the Allied Occupation. Between the release of these two songs, Japan, and the world, experienced two turbulent decades that witnessed the emergence of mass consumer societies as well as a World War. This talk highlights how paying attention to these songs and, more generally, the sounds that went into the ears of Tokyoites as they walked about their streets reveals both surprising and enduring dynamics within the politics of culture in modern Japan.
Presented by guest speaker Hiromu Nagahara, associate professor of history at MIT
Free and open to the public