Post-War Japan grew and developed rapidly. Japan emerged from the Second World War as an economic power at peace with the world despite its devastation during the war. In terms of political power, it was more reluctant, especially in not using military force. Japan had finally regained its prewar industrial output by 1952. Since then, the economy has grown at an unprecedented rate. A mass consumer society emerged simultaneously with economic development and industrialization. Many Japanese who had previously lived in villages became urbanized; the population of Tokyo, which was about three million in 1945, reached nine million by 1970.
All aspects of Japanese life changed during sustained prosperity and high annual growth rates, which averaged 10 per cent in 1955–60 and climbed to more than 13 per cent later. Small-scale mechanization and a continuous migration to industrial centres took their toll on the rural countryside, which had benefited from land reform. Crop yields rose as better strains of crops were introduced, modern technologies were adopted, and household appliances became available in remote villages. Urban food consumption patterns changed to provide new markets for cash crops, fruits, vegetables, and meat products.
Below are some stunning vintage photos that depict Japan’s rural and street life in the 1950s.