'By other means': Tourism and leisure as politics in pre-war Japan

David Leheny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Although leisure and tourism may seem at first blush to be anything but political, states generally create and maintain policies that deal with the recreation of citizens. The Japanese government's active post-war approach to leisure is unusual and distinctive, owing its shape to pre-war policy decisions privileging for strategic purposes American and European conceptions of proper recreation, leisure and travel. Tracing the evolution of Japan's pre-war tourism and leisure policies, this paper argues that Japanese efforts to use international tourism as an instrument for economic growth forced the government to confront the question of what constitutes proper recreation. These debates remained unsettled in the pre-war period, in part because of the turn toward militant nationalism in the 1930s, which mandated the valorization of an idealized Japanese culture. Yet the emphasis on Western styles of leisure and tourism found important policy homes in the pre-war era, laying the foundation for the post-war institutionalization of efforts to make Japanese leisure lives conform to those witnessed in North America and Western Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-186
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Oct
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of ''By other means': Tourism and leisure as politics in pre-war Japan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this