Aspects of Japanese History in Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki

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History is not necessarily a finite account. Sometimes the ability to understand and fully appreciate the events and relationships of the past require a bit of storytelling. The ability to communicate the past as effectively as possible to the people of the present can be difficult. In the case of having fiction tie-in closely with fact, a person and easily relate to history by feeling an emotional connection. For this paper I will be using the story Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki to the historical accounts of A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon. I will use Tanizaki’s story to personalize the factual history of Gordon’s book. A few aspects of Japan’s industrializing gave insight to the hectic political theater in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: imperialism, industrial capitalism, and growth of the national image. Imperialism molded politics in Japan due to the ability for it to convince the population to believe that the Empire was doing the will of the people, and that the Empire answered to the people and not their own interests. Industrial capitalism at the end of the nineteenth-century brought important political changes. The industrialization of Japan gave birth to a larger class of laborers who gathered in cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. These people would later develop a new view of the future for a modern Japan. The growth of national image was encouraged by the political electoral process. Demonstrations and political rallies became sort of a normal occurrence, this is unprecedented for Japan. A major aspect in Gordon’s book is the spike in Japanese nationalism. This is evident throughout Tanizaki’s story and Kaname’s fascination with the old ways of the Japanese. Gordon creates a visu... ... middle of paper ... ...ich personifies the difficulty of change. Tanizaki’s story is a very unique read. That seems to be the point though. It begins with such a mundane aspect of life, and then finishes as if halfway through a thought. Maybe that’s a good way to look at Gordon’s book, something (modernization) that almost came in as if it were just a normal thing and then just progressed to where it was nothing special. Either way, both books point out how drastic of a change Japan went under once “Westernization” took place. While Tanizaki’s book is fictional, it is presented in a way that allows you to think that it is a direct narration of something that actually took place. It is as if there was a family that dealt with these exact issues. Some Prefer Nettles allows itself to be a way to personalize, thus establishing a connection, with the actual counts of A Modern History of Japan.

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