Aizawa Kikutarõ (1866-1963) was born into the wealthiest family in Hashimoto, a small agricultural village specializing in wheat and silk. By 1925, the village was undergoing rapid commercial development, residents were commuting to factory and office jobs in cities, and, after serving as mayor for almost twenty years, Aizawa was working as a bank manager. Taking the biography of this leading villager as its central focus and incorporating intimate details of life drawn from Aizawa's diary, The Mayor of Aihara chronicles the extraordinary transformation of Hashimoto against the background of Japan's rapid industrialization. By portraying history as it was actually lived by ordinary people, the book offers a rich and compelling perspective on the modernization of Japan.
List of Illustrations
1. The Village Enters the Modern Era (1866 – 1885)
Born in Troubled Times
Building a New Nation
Hardship and Protest
2. From Farm Manager to Independent Landowner (1885 – 1894)
A Young Man of the Enlightenment
Reaching Maturity in Momentous Times
3. For Village and Nation (1894 – 1908)
The Nation Comes of Age
Politics on the Kanto Plain
The Mantle of Responsibility
The Hour of Need
The Railway Comes to Hashimoto
4. The Mayor of Aihara (1908 – 1918)
Mayor of Aihara
Technology and Change
A Great Sadness
5. A World Transformed (1918 – 1926)
An Unprecedented Economy
A Modern Village
The World Turned Upside Down
The Family Patriarch
Did Hashimoto Ever Become “Modern”?
Villagers in Control of Their Destiny?
The Meaning of a Life
Simon Partner, Associate Professor at Duke University, is author of Toshié: A Story of Rural Life in Twentieth Century Japan and Assembled in Japan: Electrical Goods and the Making of the Japanese Consumer (both from UC Press).
“”It is a historical ethnography that is both sweeping and situated, eminently useful for courses but equally instructive to scholars.”—William W. Kelly American Historical Review
“Remarkable.”—T. James Kodera Journal Of Japanese Stds
“Excellent book.”—Monumenta Nipponica
"The Mayor of Aihara brings to life in a concrete and accessible way key developments and processes affecting the Japanese countryside in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that a reader might encounter in general terms in a textbook on modern Japanese history. This work provides an unusually intimate and textured view of Japanese farmers and their changing world over an extended period of time, carefully setting the narrative in the context of larger trends in the social, political, and economic history of modern Japan. The result is a rich harvest of information on multiple dimensions of rural life from the perspective of an elite villager."—Steven J. Ericson, Dartmouth College