1960s and ’70s Japan: a changing culture

Photographs from the Monitor archive by Gordon Converse reveal the tug-of-war between tradition and innovation in Japan during the 1960s and '70s.

Gordon N. Converse/The Christian Science Monitor
Two boys dressed in school uniforms, or seifuku, stand outside the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in 1965 in Kyoto, Japan. Called Kinkaku-ji or Rokuon-ji, it is Zen Buddhist temple with a minimalist, Muromachi- style garden.
Gordon N. Converse/The Christian Science Monitor
Pedestrians walk amid skyscrapers and signs in 1975 in Tokyo, Japan. The billboard for the Sun Hotel is visible. Prior to the 1970s, the Japanese economy experienced a rapid pace of growth.

IN A QUEST TO DOCUMENT the human narrative, Monitor photographers have witnessed a vast spectrum of events, some large in historical scope, others seemingly mundane.This project is an attempt to dust off some of those smaller moments, which gain a glow of appeal with the passing of time as they provide telling views into the past. Renowned Monitor photographer Gordon Converse took many trips to Japan in the 1960s and ’70s to chronicle the growth of a nation both inherently innovative and firmly rooted in tradition. Decades after he took them in black-and-white film, Converse’s photos still feel fresh in their portrayal of a multifaceted country bursting with vibrant culture.

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