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Traces of Japan
An invitation to voyage east leads Ihab Hassan to reflect on his origins in Egypt, on his home in America, and on his host country, Japan. Part memoir, part cultural perception, Between the Eagle and the Sun records a journey, echoing the "wanderers of eternity." The result is not a book about "them," some alien people living on a distant island, but rather a book about the author himself, living among others, living and seeing himself sometimes as another, assaying always to read the hieroglyphs of his past in the scripts of Japan.
Lucid as it is intensely felt, at once lyrical and critical, the work offers a beguiling vision of Japan and, by tacit contrast, of America. For writing, the author says, is more than praise or blame, it is also knowledge, empathy, and delight. These attributes are evident in Hassan's treatment of Japanese culture, its people and scenes. Indeed, the people, rendered in vibrant portraits throughout the book, abide when all the shadows of romance and exasperation have fled.
True to its moment, the work also reinvests the forms of memoir, travel, and quest. Cultural essays, travel anecdotes, autobiographical meditations, portraits of Japanese friends, a section titled "Entries, A to Z," fit into a tight frame, with clear transitions from one section to another. The style, however, alters subtly to suit topic, occasion, and mood.
Japan may not hold the key to this planet's future; no single nation does. Yet the continuing interest in its history, society, and people and the incresed awareness of its recent trends and growing global impact engage an expanding audience. Avoiding cliches, sympathetic to its subject yet analytical, unflinching in judgment, and withal highly personal, Between the Eagle and the Sun offers a unique image of its subject by a distinguished and well-traveled critic, at home in several cultures.
Race in the Making of American Military Empire after World War II
By the end of World War II, many black citizens viewed service in the segregated American armed forces with distaste if not disgust. Meanwhile, domestic racism and Jim Crow, ongoing Asian struggles against European colonialism, and prewar calls for Afro-Asian solidarity had generated considerable black ambivalence toward American military expansion in the Pacific, in particular the impending occupation of Japan. However, over the following decade black military service enabled tens of thousands of African Americans to interact daily with Asian peoples-encounters on a scale impossible prior to 1945. It also encouraged African Americans to share many of the same racialized attitudes toward Asian peoples held by their white counterparts and to identify with their government's foreign policy objectives in Asia.
In Black Yanks in the Pacific, Michael Cullen Green tells the story of African American engagement with military service in occupied Japan, war-torn South Korea, and an emerging empire of bases anchored in those two nations. After World War II, African Americans largely embraced the socioeconomic opportunities afforded by service overseas-despite the maintenance of military segregation into the early 1950s-while strained Afro-Asian social relations in Japan and South Korea encouraged a sense of insurmountable difference from Asian peoples. By the time the Supreme Court declared de jure segregation unconstitutional in its landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, African American investment in overseas military expansion was largely secured. Although they were still subject to discrimination at home, many African Americans had come to distrust East Asian peoples and to accept the legitimacy of an expanding military empire abroad.
Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture, 1945-1970
Japan and the United States became close political allies so quickly after the end of World War II, that it seemed as though the two countries had easily forgotten the war they had fought. Here Yoshikuni Igarashi offers a provocative look at how Japanese postwar society struggled to understand its war loss and the resulting national trauma, even as forces within the society sought to suppress these memories. Igarashi argues that Japan's nationhood survived the war's destruction in part through a popular culture that expressed memories of loss and devastation more readily than political discourse ever could. He shows how the desire to represent the past motivated Japan's cultural productions in the first twenty-five years of the postwar period.
Japanese war experiences were often described through narrative devices that downplayed the war's disruptive effects on Japan's history. Rather than treat these narratives as obstacles to historical inquiry, Igarashi reads them along with counter-narratives that attempted to register the original impact of the war. He traces the tensions between remembering and forgetting by focusing on the body as the central site for Japan's production of the past. This approach leads to fascinating discussions of such diverse topics as the use of the atomic bomb, hygiene policies under the U.S. occupation, the monstrous body of Godzilla, the first Western professional wrestling matches in Japan, the transformation of Tokyo and the athletic body for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and the writer Yukio Mishima's dramatic suicide, while providing a fresh critical perspective on the war legacy of Japan.
The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry
Spanning the earliest attempts to brew beer to the recent popularity of local craft brews, Brewed in Japan presents the first English-language exploration of beer's steady rise to become the "beverage of the masses." Alexander underscores the highly receptive nature of Japanese consumers, who adopted and domesticated beer in just a few generations, despite its entirely foreign origins. He also sheds light on the various social, cultural, and financial influences that combined to make beer Japan's leading alcoholic beverage by the 1960s. Japan's beer market is now among the most complex on earth, and it continues to evolve. Visit the author's website at www.brewedinjapan.com.
Scholars have long remarked on the frequency with which Japanese myths portrayed gods (kami) as old men or okina . Many of these "sacred elders" came to be featured in premodern theater, most prominently in Noh. In the closing decades of the twentieth-century, as the number of Japan's senior citizens climbed steadily, the sacred elder of premodern myth became a subject of renewed interest and was seen by some as evidence that the elderly in Japan had once been accorded a level of respect unknown in recent times. In Bodies in Time, Edward R. Drott charts the shifting sets of meanings ascribed to old age in medieval Japan, tracing the processes by which the aged body was transformed into a symbol of otherworldly power and the cultural, political, and religious circumstances that inspired its reimagination.
Drott examines how the aged body was used to conceptualize forms of difference and to convey religious meanings in a variety of texts: official chronicles, literary works, Buddhist legends and didactic tales. In early Japan, old age was most commonly seen as a mark of negative distinction, one that represented the ugliness, barrenness, and pollution against which the imperial court sought to define itself. From the late-Heian period, however, certain Buddhist authors seized upon the aged body as a symbolic medium though which to challenge traditional dichotomies between center and margin, high and low, and purity and defilement, crafting narratives that associated aged saints and avatars with the cults, lineages, sacred sites, or religious practices these authors sought to promote.
Contributing to a burgeoning literature on religion and the body, Bodies in Time applies approaches developed in gender studies to "denaturalize" old age as a matter of representation, identity, and performance. By tracking the ideological uses of old age in premodern Japan, this work breaks new ground, revealing the role of religion in the construction of generational categories and the ways in which religious ideas and practices can serve not only to naturalize, but also challenge "common sense" about the body.
Metamorphic Dance and Global Alchemy
Both a refraction of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a protest against Western values, butoh is a form of Japanese dance theater that emerged in the aftermath of World War II. Sondra Fraleigh chronicles the growth of this provocative art form from its midcentury founding under a sign of darkness to its assimilation in the twenty-first century as a poignant performance medium with philosophical and political implications. Employing intellectual and aesthetic perspectives to reveal the origins, major figures, and international development of the dance, Fraleigh documents the range and variety of butoh artists around the world with first-hand knowledge of butoh performances from 1973 to 2008.
Schumpeter’s Guide to the Postwar Japanese Miracle
With this book, Mark Metzler continues his investigation into the economic history of twentieth-century Japan that he began in Lever of Empire. In Capital as Will and Imagination, he focuses on the successful stabilization of Japanese capitalism after the Second World War. How did a defeated and heavily damaged nation manage reconstruction so rapidly? What economic beliefs resulted in the "miracle" years of high-speed economic growth? Metzler argues that the inflationary creation of credit was key to Japan's postwar success-and its eventual demise due to its instability over the long term.
To prove his case, Metzler explores heterodox ideas about economic life , in particular Joseph Schumpeter's realization that inflation is intrinsic to capitalist development. Schumpeter's ideas, widely ignored within standard American neoclassical economic theory, were shaped by his experience of Austria's reconstruction after 1918. They were highly influential in Japan, and Metzler traces their impact in the period from the Allied Occupation, starting in 1945, through the Income Doubling Plan of 1960. Japan after defeat, Metzler argues, illustrates the critical importance of inflationary credit creation for increased production.
Following the destruction of Kyoto during the civil wars of the late fifteenth century, large-scale panoramic paintings of the city began to emerge. These enormous and intricately detailed depictions of the ancient imperial capital were unprecedented in the history of Japanese painting and remain unmatched as representations of urban life in any artistic tradition. Capitalscapes, the first book-length study of the Kyoto screens, examines their inception in the sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries, focusing on the political motivations that sparked their creation. Close readings of the Kyoto screens reveal that they were initially commissioned by or for members of the Ashikaga shogunate and that urban panoramas reflecting the interests of both prevailing and moribund political elites were created to underscore the legitimacy of the newly ascendant Tokugawa regime. Matthew McKelway’s analysis of the screens exposes their creators’ masterful exploitation of ostensibly accurate depictions to convey politically biased images of Japan’s capital. His overarching methodology combines a historical approach, which considers the paintings in light of contemporary reports (diaries, chronicles, ritual accounts), with a thematic one, isolating individual motifs, deciphering their visual language, and comparing them with depictions in other works. McKelway’s combined approach allows him to argue that the Kyoto screens were conceived and perpetuated as a painting genre that conveyed specific political meanings to viewers even as it provided textured details of city life. Students and scholars of Japanese art will find this lavishly illustrated work especially valuable for its insights into the cityscape painting genre, while those interested in urban and political history will appreciate its bold exploration of Kyoto’s past and the city’s late-medieval martial elite.
New Religions, Media, and Authority in Occupied Japan
Celebrity Gods explores the interaction of new religions and the media in postwar Japan. It focuses on the leaders and founders (kyōsō) of Jiu and Tenshō Kōtai Jingū Kyō, two new religions of Japan’s immediate postwar period that received substantial press attention. Jiu was linked to the popular prewar group Ōmotokyō, and its activities were based on the millennial visions of its leader, a woman called Jikōson. When Jiu attracted the legendary sumo champion Futabayama to its cause, Jikōson and her activities became a widely-covered cause célèbre in the press. Tenshō Kōtai Jingū Kyō (labeled odoru shūkyō, “the dancing religion,” by the press) was led by a farmer’s wife, Kitamura Sayo. Her uncompromising vision and actions toward creating a new society—one that was far removed from what she described as the “maggot world” of postwar Japan—drew harsh and often mocking criticism from the print media.
Looking back for precursors to the postwar relationship of new religions and media, Benjamin Dorman explores the significant role that the Japanese media traditionally played in defining appropriate and acceptable social behavior, acting at times as mouthpieces for government and religious authorities. Using the cases of Renmonkyō in the Meiji era and Ōmotokyō in the Taishō and Shōwa eras, Dorman shows how accumulated images of new religions in pre-1945 Japan became absorbed into those of the immediate postwar period. Given the lack of formal religious education in Japan, the media played an important role in transmitting notions of acceptable behavior to the public. He goes on to characterize the leaders of these groups as “celebrity gods,” demonstrating that the media, which were generally untrained in religious history or ideas, chose to fashion them as “celebrities” whose antics deserved derision. While the prewar media had presented other kyōsō as the antithesis of decent, moral citizens who stood in opposition to the aims of the state, postwar media reports presented them primarily as unfit for democratic society.
Celebrity Gods delves into an under-studied era of religious history: the Allied Occupation and the postwar period up to the early 1950s. It is an important interdisciplinary work that considers relations between Japanese and Occupation bureaucracies and the groups in question, and uses primary source documents from Occupation archives and interviews with media workers and members of religious groups. For observers of postwar Japan, this research provides a roadmap to help understand issues relating to the Aum Shinrikyō affair of the 1990s.