What in the world is “rotgut culture”? Kasutori bunka made an appearance midway through the 1945-52 U.S. Occupation of Japan. Referring to the dregs of liquor and multiple kinds of other offal, rotgut culture offered ordinary people a way to address the darker and seamier sides of life and art during the otherwise “successful” American interlude in postwar Japan.
George Wilson is professor emeritus of History and East Asian Languages & Cultures at Indiana University. His specialty is the history of modern Japan. Until he retired from IU in 2002, he was Director of the East Asian Studies Center.