December 22, 2014
  Cars built in Japan before WWII tended to be based on European or American models. In 1925 the Ford Motor Company of Japan began manufacturing in Yokohama. In 1927 General Motors and Chrysler also established operations in Japan. From 1925-36, these three American automobile manufacturers produced 208,967 vehicles (domestic Japanese production = 12,127). The Japanese Automobile Manufacturing Industry Law of […]
November 5, 2014
  The Comedian Harmonists were an internationally famous, all-male German, close harmony ensemble that performed between 1928 and 1934 as one of the most successful musical groups in Europe before World War II. The group’s success continued into the early 1930s, but eventually ran into trouble with the Nazi regime because three of the group […]
November 9, 2012
In addition to widespread racial prejudice in the USA against Asians, African Americans and Jews, Mexican Americans were also a target for discrimination. In the 1930s, approximately 500,000  people of Mexican descent were pressured to leave the US by the Mexican Repatriation program.  
November 7, 2012
                                Ainu                                                                     Korean            […]
November 5, 2012
. In the 1930s, vocabulary and syntax of texts used in American primary schools was strictly controlled. The Dick and Jane series, created in 1930 by William H. Elson and Dr. William S. Gray,  was the prototype.
November 2, 2012
In the 1930s previously lighthearted Manga magazines, inspired by Western comics, began to feature heroic Japanese soldiers (and animals) preparing for war. 
October 12, 2012
Manzai (漫才) is a traditional style of Japanese comedy, usually performed by a straight man and a funny man trading rapid fire jokes, puns and gags in local dialects. During the Second Sino-Japanese War Manzai comedians  joined “comfort” or “laugh” brigades to entertain the troops. On their return to Japan, they often wrote patriotic accounts for the public. Read […]
October 10, 2012
This extremely popular radio comedy featured a middle-aged married couple who, after traveling America’s highways, settled down at 79 Wistful Vista.           Listen to radio broadcast:  
September 19, 2012
In 1906, following Japan’s victory in the  in the Russo-Japanese War, San Francisco required children of Japanese descent to attend racially segregated schools.  In 1931, after the annexation of Manchuria, many American citizens called for American economic intervention to pressure Japan to leave China.  In 1937, with the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Nanking Massacre, the majority of Western […]
September 17, 2012
Japan’s GDP increased by about 5% per year during the late 1930s. Manufacturing, mining and  agricultural grew significantly. But most industrial growth was aimed at expanding military power.    
September 14, 2012
Throughout the 1930s, strong opposition from diverse groups kept the USA out of international conflicts.  Needing support for his New Deal policies, FDR accepted this fact until 1937 when the threats to world peace  from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan became more acute. In that year, he  likened international aggression to a disease that other […]
August 29, 2012
Bishamon (毘沙門), is one of the the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology. Originally a Buddhist deity from India, this god of warfare and protector of the righteous was popular during the rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s.  
August 24, 2012
By the end of the 1930s, Japan had many seasoned pilots from the China conflict and some of the finest combat aircraft in the world. Perhaps of greatest importance, was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s early recognition that aircraft were to become major weapons of naval power.  
August 13, 2012
Ryūkōka (popular song), adopting a western musical style, was popular in Japan from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. Unlike the photo of traditional instruments above, ryūkōka used vocals,classical guitar, mandolin and violin.   Listen to Katsutaro Kouta, was a popular geisha and ryūkōka singer.  
August 1, 2012
In the 1930s, nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers in the USA had electricity, compared with only 10 percent of rural dwellers. Although private utility companies, maintained that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads, in 1933, with strong pressure from President Roosevelt, Congress created the controversial Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The […]
July 25, 2012
The arrival of guns in 1542  dramatically changed the nature of war in Japan. The aristocratic Bushi warrior class, however, thought firearms were undignified and preferred swords or spears. In fact, the cult of the sword persisted into the Second World War, when Japanese officers carried  swords – even in the jungle. In 1588, after re-unification of Japan’s […]
July 23, 2012
In the 1930s, the Communist-led National Student League of high school and college students joined with the Socialist Student League for Industrial Democracy to form the American Student Union (ASU). The ASU promoted extensive reforms of federal aid to education, government job programs for youth, academic freedom, racial equality, collective student bargaining rights, abolition of compulsory Reserve […]
July 4, 2012
In response to a surge in gun violence by organized criminals in the 1930s, the National Firearms Act and the Federal Firearms Act banned automatic weapons (particularly the infamous Tommy gun), taxed and regulated gun sales and restricted shipment of certain weapons.
June 15, 2012
Led by Harry Ansliger, the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the federal government pursued a vigorous war on drugs in the 1930s, promoting a Uniform State Narcotic Act. Initially, only nine states adopted the act, but after a 1935 nationwide anti-marijuana media campaign (and endorsement by FDR) all states signed on.   The movie Reefer […]
June 13, 2012
Noting the devastating effects of opium on China, the Japanese government during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) pursued a vigorous anti-drug policy. Increased Western influence in the Taisho period (1912-1926) may have contributed to wider acceptance of recreational drug use, yet fewer than 100 narcotics arrests/year were recorded. During the Showa period (1926-) the number of […]
May 23, 2012
Throughout the 1930s, as Director of the FBI , J. Edgar Hoover advanced scientific methods of crime detection and led a “War on Crime” against  many notorious criminals, including John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, Kate “Ma” Barker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.            
May 21, 2012
  Type 95 Ha Go tank 1935; Wikimedia Commons In the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army developed mechanized infantry units with the  Type 95 light tank produced by Mitsubishi.  The Type 95 tank saw significant action in the “China Conflict,” where,  although lightly armored,  its improved speed was felt to be a compensatory factor. In the ensuing  Pacific […]
May 16, 2012
In medieval Japan, warriors with exceptional riding skills often became clan leaders.  During the 6th century, horse races were held at religious ceremonies (for an abundant harvest) and annually at the Imperial Court. Western-style racing was introduced at Yokohama in the 1860’s.  In 1923, legislation was passed that allowed the formation of racing clubs and the legal sale of […]
May 9, 2012
After publication of the Flexner report in 1910, admission and graduation requirements for U.S. medical schools became very rigorous, and adherence to the scientific method in patient care and research was emphasized. Many medical schools were closed and most that met the new scientific criteria were university-based. Post-graduate internships were required for all practitioners in […]
May 7, 2012
In pre-WWII Imperial Japan there were 18 university-based medical schools with high academic standards. Prerequisite for admission were 6 years of primary school, 5 of middle school and 3 years of special science in a higher school or a university preparatory school. After an additional 4 years of medical school, an M.D. degree was granted […]
April 27, 2012
During the 1930s, in a country with a strong militaristic tradition, most Japanese enthusiastically approved of their nation’s growing power.  Imperial Japan invested heavily in its Army and Navy throughout the era.   By 1940, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was the most powerful fleet in the Pacific Ocean and the Imperial Japanese Army had […]
April 13, 2012
To increase revenue during the Great Depression, the Japanese Government Railways opened overseas offices to promote tourism (primarily to Americans). Scenic spots were maintained, resorts developed and rail and sea transportation was improved. Visits by foreign sporting teams and high school teachers were encouraged – in 1934, Babe Ruth  drew 100,000 to Tokyo’s Meiji Stadium. […]
February 29, 2012
Shirley Temple first appeared in film at age four in Baby Burlesks and became a star  at the age of six with her movie  Bright Eyes. The image of a wholesome child proved extremely popular with many Americans who bought Shirley Temple dolls, dishes, and clothing. When she reached adolescence, the child star novelty faded and she retired completely from […]
February 1, 2012
My mother’s first class in 1931. In the 1930s USA, with devaluation of property and/or taxes often unpaid, many school districts were forced to cut corners by paying teachers less, charging tuition or shortening academic terms. Additionally, parents often couldn’t afford clothing, supplies, and textbooks their children needed to attend school. These difficulties were amplified […]
January 30, 2012
In the late 1930s, the  educational curriculum of Imperial japan grew increasingly ultranationalist with an emphasis on Emperor worship, loyalty to the state and the importance of ancient military virtues. At the start of the Pacific war in 1941, an average National People’s School (elementary school) graduate was required to attend Youth School  with vocational and […]
January 28, 2012
With a lifetime batting average of .342, the 6’2″, 215#, left-handed  George Herman Ruth was an All-Star in 1933 and 1934.
January 18, 2012
In the 1930s, many Japanese citizens, seeking new opportunities, emigrated to the South Sea Mandate, known as Nan’Yō. Soon the Japanese population of these islands grew to outnumber the islanders. Ultimately, it was only the catastrophic outcome of the Pacific War that reversed this trend. Along with economic development, came military fortifications, ports and airfields  designed to […]
January 13, 2012
In the early 20th Century, while mystical idealism, quest for world prestige and economics were important factors, Japan’s imperialism was principally a reaction against the encroachment of Western powers. In the 1930s, in addition to the “independent” state of Manchukuo, Imperial Japan controlled Taiwan, Korea, Karafuto (Southern Sakhalin), the Kwantung Leased Territory and Nan’yō-chō (former German islands […]
December 16, 2011
Emperor Hirohito is idealized as the infallible leader of an increasingly militaristic Empire of Japan. But who is actually calling the shots is a complex issue – the military appears to hold sway over the Cabinet, but consensus is still a national trait and the Emperor is more than just a passive pawn.
December 14, 2011
A traditional folk song from the Edo period (1603-1868) about spring and the blossoming of cherry trees. Lyrics were attached in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and the song became considered representative of Japan: Sakura, Sakura, blossoms waving everywhere. Clouds of glory fill the sky. Mist of beauty in the air, lovely colors floating by. Sakura, Sakura, Let […]
November 28, 2011
In 1932, ~25% of Americans were unemployed. Taking office in 1933, FDR introduced a series of reforms designed to stabilize the economy and provide jobs. In the following 8 years, these programs, known collectively as the New Deal, permanently changed the federal government relationship with American citizens.
November 14, 2011
By the 1930s, in addition to the puppet state of Manchukuo, Japanese colonial rule extended to Taiwan, Korea, the Southern Sakhalin Islands, the Kwantung Territory of Manchuria‘s Liaodong Peninsula, and the South Sea Mandate consisting of the Marshall, Caroline, Mariana and Palau Islands. Follow this link to get a better picture of many WWII battles […]
November 4, 2011
Originating in the 1600s, Kabuki  is a traditional form of Japanese theater that combines dance, music, pantomime and drama. White-faced performers in exaggerated costumes portray their characters in a highly stylized manner.
November 2, 2011
With a sinister laugh, the announcer known as The Shadow intoned: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”   The Shadow was a collection of serialized dramas adapted from pulp novels in 1930s. Over decades, The Shadow has been featured on radio, magazine series, comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video […]
October 31, 2011
Bushido – The Cruel Code of the Samurai I just saw this brutal and probably overstated film that nevertheless won a prize in the 1963 Berlin Film Festival. But its premise thought-provokingly supports the theory that the Imperial Japanese Army officer corps of the early 20th-Century was composed of many rural youth who graduated from […]
October 28, 2011
In the mid-1930s, the Japanese Automotive Manufacturing Industries Law was passed, protecting the domestic industry and limiting production by foreign-owned plants. Nissan and Toyota soon became the only authorized domestic manufacturers.
October 26, 2011
There actually was quite a difference between earlier automobiles and those of the 1930s. But time still makes these “streamlined” ideas a bit amusing. The principles of reducing aerodynamic drag (streamlining) were well-established in the 1930s. But streamlining of automobiles showed only minor stylistic changes  (e.g., teardrop headlights, swept fenders). The upright windshield and rear […]
October 24, 2011
Swordsmen in ancient Japan established schools of kenjutsu which continued to form the basis of kendo practice today. Formal kendo exercises known as kata, developed several centuries ago as kenjutsu practice for warriors, are still studied today, in a modified form. To mold the mind and body. To cultivate a vigorous spirit, And through correct and rigid training, […]
October 21, 2011
In the 1930s women’s busts and waistline curves were accentuated and hair became softer and longer than in the ’20s. Men’s shoulders were padded to create the image of a large torso.
October 19, 2011
In the 17th century, the Yakuza were loosely organized as gamblers, mercenaries and roving bandits. In the 19th century they turned to prostitution, gambling, liquor distribution, and entertainment. In the 1930s, with the rise of ultranationalism, the Yakuza played a role in several coups d’etat, political assassinations and terrorism in occupied Manchuria. In the silent film era, films depicting bakuto (precursors […]
October 17, 2011
In the 1930s, American government efforts to enforce Prohibition notwithstanding, speakeasies thrived and well-organized bootleggers crossed borders effortlessly. While the notoriously vicious Al Capone was from Chicago, there were gangs in most major cities.
October 12, 2011
The college football hero, idealized here by an “all-girl” orchestra, was the quintessential sports role model of 1930s USA.
October 10, 2011
Ultranationalist organizations, both military and civilian, such as the Black Ocean, Black Dragon and Sakurakai (Cherry Blossom) Societies exerted powerful influences from the shadows of Imperial Japan.
October 3, 2011
In the 1930s Americans romanticized violence and heroism as depicted by the virile John Wayne.  
September 30, 2011
(I know, I know – not 50 stars in 1930 – but I loved the waving). US Population Census 1930
September 28, 2011
In 1930, Imperial Japan extended from its main islands to control the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), southern Karafuto/Sakhalin Island, Chishima/Kuril Islands, Taiwan, the Caroline Islands, Palau, the Marianas Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Shandong Province of China, the Korean peninsula, and southern Manchuria.  
September 24, 2011
This highly readable book, published in 1940 by the social historian Frederick Allen Lewis, is as an excellent overview of life in America during the decade 1929-1939.
September 23, 2011
Since the beginning of the Meiji Period, the Japanese government favored family business oligarchies deemed most beneficial to the economy. Of these “money cliques” ( Zaibatsu), four companies dominated the scene: Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Yasuda. Often using  POWs for slave labor, the Zaibatsu were key to Imperial Japan’s war effort.
September 21, 2011
Superstar amateur golfer Bobby Jones, a lawyer, completed a Grand Slam in 1930 by winning all four major golf tournaments. In the 1920s, a profusion of miniature golf courses brought the popular sport to the masses. But the Great Depression soon dampened the craze, and thousands of mini-golf courses across the USA were closed by the […]
September 19, 2011
                    Inspired by similar broadcasts on American radio, early morning calisthenic exercises set to music were broadcast on public NHK Radio in Japan. These morning exercises are still popular today
September 14, 2011
While some thought Grant Wood‘s painting was a satire of rural life, during the Great Depression, it was popularly viewed as a depiction of the resolute spirit of Americans.
September 12, 2011
The London Naval treaty of 1930 regulated submarine warfare and extended the limitations on aircraft carriers designated in the Washington Treaty of 1922. The numbers of capital ships (battleships and battlecruisers) allowed for the U.K., USA and Japan was set at 15-15-9. The Japanese military felt angry and humiliated by the 5:5:3 naval ratio and […]
September 7, 2011
With wacky innocence, titillating Betty Boop cartoons were immensely popular in the 1930s America.
September 5, 2011
During severe droughts from 1930-1936, approximately 100 million acres of soil in the Southwestern USA,  blew away in large dust clouds. Hundreds of thousands of people (“Okies“) left their homes and migrated west during the Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath , a poignant story about a poor displaced family, won author John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize […]
September 3, 2011
Most Japanese practiced both indigenous Shinto and Buddhism (imported from Korea in the 6th Century). In the late 19th Century, an ultranationalistic form of Shinto was promulgated, proclaiming the Emperor to be a direct descendant of divine beings. Although a human being (not a “god”), the Emperor embodied the property of kami nature perfectly and […]
September 1, 2011
William Ashley Sunday (Billy Sunday), a popular outfielder in the National League during the 1880s, became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century. In the 1929-1935 sociological studies of “Middletown USA,” 30,000 people attended 42, predominantly Protestant, churches. While most citizens professed a belief in God, strong religious […]
August 28, 2011
Via Gatochy: Japanese magazine cover, 1930s | Flickr  Although in increasing conflict with the West, many Japanese continued to adopt its culture and fashion throughout the early 20th Century. After Pearl Harbor, however, strong social pressure suppressed such attitudes and a return to traditional Japanese style was mandatory.
August 22, 2011
The Dust Bowl exacerbated the misery of the Great Depression.
August 21, 2011
Initially, as a new industrial nation heavily dependent on exports, Japan suffered high unemployment and near-starvation in much of its population. But, devaluation of its currency and increased deficit spending early in the Depression soon led to increased exports and major growth of its military-industrial power. The Japanese economy shrank only 8% from 1929–31. By […]

Comments, contributions, corrections, and suggestions are always welcome:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *