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Unformatted text preview: at least at the popular
level—because of the pervasive influence of the United States upon
Japan both during and after the Occupation. By about 1955 the Japanese government, having met the basic needs of the people, was able to
set new goals in the production of goods for mass consumption, and
thereupon embarked upon what became known as Japan’s “economic
miracle.” Year after seemingly endless year Japan scored remarkable increases in gross national product. The stages through which this miracle
came to satisfy the desires of Japan’s consumers were neatly categorized
by the coining of a series of slogans that punned irreverently on the imperial regalia or “three sacred treasures” of emperorship (mirror, sword,
and jewel). Thus, during the late 1950s the Japanese people sought to
acquire the three S’s of senpûki, sentaku, and suihanki (electric fan,
washing machine, and electric rice cooker); during the 1960s it was the
three C’s of kaa, kura, and kara terebi (car, air conditioner, and color
television); and by the 1970s everyone wanted the three J’s of jueru, jetto,
and jûtaku (jewels, overseas vacation, and house).38 The period of Culture in the Present Age 335 phenomenal economic growth finally came to an end in the 1980s, by
which time the Japanese populace had largely obtained all the basic
material treasures of a mass-culture society.
The spread of mass culture tends to standardize tastes and reduce
class distinctions. The Japanese, with their collectivist ethos, are probably more susceptible than most people to such standardization and to
at least the perception that in recent years class distinctions have been
substantially reduced. Thus polls indicate that an unusually high number
of Japanese—90 percent or more—regard themselves as middle class. If,
in fact, contemporary Japanese society has become to a high degree
homogenized as “middle class,” the homogenization has been due,
among other things, to a uniform, nationwide educational curriculum;
nearly universal literacy; close to 100 percent ownership of color television sets; and the largest per capita circulation of newspapers in the
world.39 Always one of the world’s most eth...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13