Not many Japanese look back with fondness on the so-called “lost decade” of recession that followed the collapse of the bubble in the early 1990s. But could the era, marked by downsizing, outsourcing and a widening gap between the haves and have-nots, in fact have led to an artistic flowering?
That’s a question that comes after looking too long through Atsushi Miura’s latest book, “igocochi” (published this April by San-ichi Shobo).
Forty-something marketing planner, director of culturestudies, a “think tank that researches consumerism, culture and cities,” and number-crunching trendspotter, Miura is best known as the writer of “Karyu Shakai” (Lower classes, from 2005), the title of which has become a media byword for our times. With “igocochi,” he’s now also something of a photographer.
In “Karyu Shakai,” Miura summed up the motivations — or rather their lack — of a generation of young Japanese who have given up on standard-issue dreams. Instead of lifetime employment and a family life in the suburbs, these “freeters” (as members of this underclass are called) prefer to flit from one temporary job to the next, settling for little more in life than a dinner of cup noodles and a tiny garret.