A ‘veritable fairyland’: Mikado Bazaar in Sunderland and the commodification of Japanese culture in the North East of England, 1861–1900

Massimiliano Papini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many European countries and North America were hit by a great wave of interest in all things Japanese. This article examines how local retailers played a central role in spreading this transcultural phenomenon in a peripheral region, namely the North East of England.

Through more or less specialist shops, Japanese decorative articles such as textiles, ceramics, lacquerware, and fans became accessible in the North East at the same time as many other parts of the United Kingdom. By drawing upon newspaper advertisements, it has been possible to demonstrate that local retailers promoted the same idealised vision of pre-modern Japan that was intertwined with the countrywide desire for cosmopolitanism.

The Mikado Bazaar in Sunderland exploited this new pattern of consumption by arranging a multifaced shopping experience through which customers could virtually travel to an idealised Japan without leaving Sunderland. Such a reassuring and desirable image of Japan was instrumental in reducing Japanese culture to the state of a commodifiable set of objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-117
Number of pages21
JournalHistory of Retailing and Consumption
Volume6
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2021

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