Inventing Nostalgia for the “Golden Age” of the National Middle Ages and Fear of the Future


Japan modernization ethnicity historical memory cultural imitation/simulation the invention of traditions medievalism futurism popular culture

How to Cite

Kyrchanoff, M. (2020). Inventing Nostalgia for the “Golden Age” of the National Middle Ages and Fear of the Future. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 2(4), 112-151.


The author analyses features and trends within the development of medievalism and futurism in Japanese mass culture. Mass culture in Japan arose as one of many consequences of political, social and cultural modernization. Medievalism and futurism simplify ideas regarding the past or the future (futurism) and incorporate their elements into the mass culture. These cultural phenomena are analyzed in the context of the imagination of communities, the invention of traditions, and the simulation of classical heritage within a Japanese context. The author analyses cultural situations in which the intellectual discourse of mass culture develops along ethnic lines, while also acknowledging the contribution of modern technological civilization. Medievalism in the identity of modern Japanese mass culture actualizes the myth of the ethnographic "golden age" of medieval culture’s feudal daimyo and samurai sub-culture. By contrast, futurism actualizes cultural phobias that are inspired by feelings of insecurity about the future of civilization. It is assumed that medievalism and futurism as forms of cultural escapism in Japanese popular culture arose as a consequence of the trauma of forced de-archaisation and de-feudalization, forced military and economic modernization, and the miraculous success of Japan’s economic growth and expansion in the post-war era. The author believes that these factors actualized social discomfort and stimulated escapist practices. The author analyses these phenomena within the context of mass culture, believing that a consumer society requires reflection upon the national past in order to yield a visualization of its continuity with earlier social institutions.


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