Art & Design

The Japanese consumer: An Alternative Economic History of Modern Japan

12 May London

Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Book Launch Series 2010


By the late twentieth century, Japanese people were renowned as the world’s most avid and knowledgeable consumers of fashion, luxury and quality, while the goods that embodied their tastes and lifestyle were becoming a part of global culture. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to the history that lies behind this. This book offers an alternative reading of Japanese economic history from the perspective of the ordinary consumer. Reaching back into pre-industrial times and tracing Japan’s economy from the eighteenth century to the present, it shows how history has conditioned what Japanese people consume today and compares their experiences with those of their European and North American counterparts, exploring what people eat, how they dress, their shopping habits and leisure activities. It is extensively illustrated and seeks to make economic history palatable and entertaining for all those interested in Japanese society and culture.


Dr Penelope Francks has been researching and writing on Japanese economic history since the 1970s. She served on the Asian Studies RAE panel in 2001 and 2008 and has been chair of the Japan Foundation Endowment Fund Committee since 2005. Her chief publications include Technology and Agricultural Development in Prewar Japan (1983), Japanese Economic Development (1992 and sec. ed. 1999), and Rural Economic Development in Japan (2006), and her paper on the history of alcohol consumption in Japan appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies (68:1) last year. In 2004, she retired to concentrate on research and writing and currently holds, in addition to her honorary position at Leeds, a Research Associateship in the Japan Research Centre at SOAS and a Visiting Senior Fellowship in the Department of Economic History at the LSE.



Professor Janet Hunter is Saji Professor of Economic History, LSE. Her research interests lie in the economic development of Japan with particular reference to the late 19th and early 20th century. Her recent publications include: History of Anglo- Japanese Relations, 1600-2000: Economic Relations (with S. Sugiyama, 2001); Women and the Labour Market in Japan's Industrialising Economy: the Textile Market Before the Pacific War (2003; Japanese edition, 2008); Institutional

12 May 2010, 4-5pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13 - 14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP. Nearest tube: Baker Street

Tel:020 7486 4348

Free but booking is essential at

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation