Godzilla and the Bullet Train: Technology and Culture in Modern Japan

Shinkansen and cherry trees, with Mt. Fuji in the background.

A bullet train speeds past Mt. Fuji across the Japanese landscape. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2005



Cite This Course

Course Description

This course explores how and why Japan, a late-comer to modernization, emerged as an industrial power and the world's second-richest nation, notwithstanding its recent difficulties. We are particularly concerned with the historical development of technology in Japan especially after 1945, giving particular attention to the interplays between business, ideology, technology, and culture. We will discuss key historical phenomena that symbolize modern Japan as a technological power in the world; specific examples to be discussed in class include kamikaze aircraft, the Shinkansen high-speed bullet train, Godzilla, and anime.

Takashi Nishiyama. STS.S28 Godzilla and the Bullet Train: Technology and Culture in Modern Japan, Fall 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), http://ocw.mit.edu (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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