I recently watched Only Yesterday at the Cornell Cinema (highly recommend it!) and the show really got me thinking about the role of rural settings in Japanese popular culture. Note that I didn’t just say anime there! I’m broadening my horizons a bit this week. To which end, we’re going to start with some cultural background. Modern Japan has a bit of a problem: during the postwar period, the country urbanized at an unprecedented rate (if I recall correctly, it was the highest rate in history, though I don’t have a source for that).