Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mitsukoshi and Empire
12020-04-30T18:05:26-04:00Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f355War; Homefront; Battlefront; Western art; Japanese arts; Hobbies.splash167132021-06-09T17:20:24-04:0034.70298, 135.49527Osaka.1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943.Noriko AsoDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277
Mitsukoshi Department Store's imposing structures have brought spectacle to the experience of upscale shopping in Japan from the early twentieth century. (For further reading, begin with Hatsuda Tōru in Japanese and Kerrie MacPherson and Noriko Aso in English. Hatsuda 1993, 1995; MacPherson 1998; Aso 2014) The distinctive spatiality of Mitsukoshi was also shared with customers outside as well as within major metropolitan areas through the retailer's various catalogs and high-end journals.
In this module, we explore the pages of a wartime run of Mitsukoshi issues, published from 1939 to 1943. The issues opened up for readers not just store interiors but also external spaces, including households and factories, networks of production as well as consumption (Garon and Maclachlan 2006, esp. essay by Yoshimi), and an imperial expansiveness long forgotten in the postwar. These wartime issues reveal how Mitsukoshi’s two- as well as three-dimensional bodies and structures were deeply rooted in an imagined geography of “East” and “West,” whose boundaries were not as clear and stable upon close inspection as they might have appeared from a distance.
“Mitsukoshi: Consuming Places” is intended to function, not so much as a textbook, but as a contextualized archive of visual images and texts. Questions rather than answers are at the heart of this teaching resource. Sometimes they are explicitly articulated, but they can also be generated by a visitor's own context and interests. The materials are sorted by themes, which include gender and imperialism, and present multiple ways of imagining and experiencing spaces. A given set of images and texts will often posses internal tensions or present conflicts with other sets to explore, and it is hoped that visitors will come up with further ways to challenge and organize the materials.
There are three pathways in this module, but visitors should also consider following tags and other forms of links in Bodies and Structures to jump within the module, or across modules. The first pathway provides an initial look at how the retail space of the Mitsukoshi Department came to be, and how central the peopling of this site was to the process. The second pathway introduces the store's journal, Mitsukoshi, and shows how its pages contained a multitude of spaces that variously reinforced, reimagined, or undermined the nature of the store's cultural authority. The third pathway focuses on the store's imperial expansiveness, and concludes with the question of what changes when we pay attention to the dimensionality of the past.
Click here for a list of references for this module, which is also available from the module's Conclusion page.
Mitsukoshi began publishing its own magazines from 1899, which from early on were conceived of as more than mere catalogs. Instead, they were to be prestige publications, guided by the principle Executive Director Hibi Ōsuke (1860-1931) called “scholar-commoner collaboration” (gaku-zoku kyōdō) (Jinno 1994, 141-72).
The first venture into the field, Hanagoromo, or “Holiday Best,” ran to almost four hundred image-filled pages. The journal included various articles and fiction along with presentation of the store's wares, and was warmly reviewed for its high quality production values in newspapers and journals of the day.
In 1903, the retailer began publishing the monthly Jikō, or “Vogue,” again filled with fiction and essays on such topics as literature, art, performance, and travel by prominent intellectuals.
In 1908, a new series entitled Mitsukoshi Taimusu (Mitsukoshi times) supplemented, then absorbed Jikō, and in 1911, the store finally settled on Mitsukoshi as the name for its flagship journal. Regular publication ceased in 1933 as a “self-restraint” (jishuku) measure in response to troubled economic times, although occasional issues still appeared and Osaka Mitsukoshi continued through to 1943.
In this and the following pathway, we will explore various types of spaces and places that appear in the pages of Mitsukoshi.
In the course of presenting the store, the city, the country, and the empire to its readers, the journal's two-dimensionality can be seen to open up into three dimensionality when we take the nature of and relationships among these sites seriously.