The Non-Global Past of Alleyway Nostalgia in Japan’s Travel Media for Asia

Prof. Shinsuke Iwata1

1Aichi University, Nagoya, Japan

Japan is one of the many countries that have experienced “nostalgia boom” in the past decades. In Japan’s case of nostalgia, urban small alleys have been one of the favourites featured by not only novels, mangas or movies but also tourism. Through text analysis of Japan’s travel media, this paper examines how its tourism utilizes usual alleyways in cityscape as tourist spots. The analysis reveals that common alleyways or narrow lanes, which are opposite to well-known tourist sights, are frequently described as nostalgic in travel media especially for East Asian and Southeast Asian cities and that the image of this nostalgia is constructed by three elements, namely communal life in neighborhoods, small-scale street businesses and zone without urban redevelopment: Any of which are “endangered species” under globalization. Although some cases are reflection of nostalgia boom in local societies, Japan’s travel media usually doesn’t refer to local contexts. Therefore, we can consider that the object of alleyway nostalgia is not the local past memorized by host society but its counterpart created one-sidedly by Japan’s tourism. In other words, it is the non-global past that on-going globalization yearns for.


Prof. Shinsuke Iwata is a cultural anthropology at the department of global liberal studies in the faculty of international communication, Aichi University. His main interest is cultural aspect of Japan’s outbound tourism.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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