Killing Time in Imperial Japan

Episode 10 of 10

Christopher Harding discusses Tokyo in the early 20th century, a bustling, cosmopolitan capital of a growing empire, where the meaning of 'time' was hotly contested.

Christopher Harding explores the Tokyo of a century ago, the bustling, cosmopolitan capital of a growing empire, where the meaning of 'time' was hotly contested. Critics attacked the relentless 'clock time' of new factories and businesses and the 'leisure time' of youngsters who favoured cafes or poetry rather than exerting themselves in empire-building. Buddhist thinkers and folklorists claimed that Japan must rediscover its natural sense of time as seasonal and cyclical, rather than mechanical.

New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding contemplates the way these attempts at escape became useful fodder for Japan's militarist ideologues - working for the Emperor, his palace tucked away amongst the trees in central Tokyo, whose own sense of time stretched back into myth and from there into divinity.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.
New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics who can turn their research into radio.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

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15 minutes

Last on

Fri 31 Mar 2017 22:45

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