Postwar Cinema-Going in Kansai 1945-1975

This four year ethnographic project uses participant observation, questionnaire studies, and interviews, to investigate the impact of popular cinema on grass-roots understandings of the self during social change in Japan from 1945-1975.

After completing fieldwork in 2018, the project has generated a number of outputs including publications and invited lectures. Project findings have been published in scholarly journals and books including the US-Japan Women’s Journal, Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, and The Palgrave Handbook of Asian Cinema.

A planned book manuscript, titled That Feeling Without Words: Growing Up With the Cinema in Post-War Japan will explore how the generation who came of age in the aftermath of Japan’s defeat in World War II engaged with cinema as a means to form a sense of self, both individual and national.

This project has been supported by a series of competitive awards from Kyoto University Hakubi Center and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Focusing on the Kansai region, site of the development of early cinema, and later home to the major film companies’ secondary studio plots, the project connects the daily workings of the studios to the lives of the viewers who lived and worked alongside the film industry. This research contributes a grounded theory of film spectatorship in Japan to a field currently dominated by auteur studies.

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