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KATHRYN MEYER 36 GARDEN OF GRAND VISION: A SLUM JOURNEY – 1941 KATHRYN MEYER, WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY In 1941, Gotō Reiji (後藤冷次 ?-1945) and two colleagues, one a governmentsponsored linguist, the other a fellow Japanese police officer serving in Harbin for the Manchukuo authorities, undertook a detailed study of the residents of a run-down Harbin building called the Garden of Grand Vision (大觀圜 Daikan’en or Daguanyuan ). Their subjects represented the most alienated refugees of the disorder that had plagued North China during the early twentieth century. Over a year’s time the three men visited the building, recording details of the origins, livelihoods, and dayto -day dramas of the people living there, some of whom they came to know well. The survey resulted in a 295-page report called Daikan’en no kaibō (大觀圜 の 解剖 Autopsy of the Garden of Grand Vision) in which the officers described the desperate lives they observed.1 According to the Autopsy, people in the Garden scraped by, earning what they could through theft, blackmail, heroin dealing, grave robbing, and prostitution. Autopsy of the Garden of Grand Vision is a remarkable document. The policeman and main author Gotō had a gift for words.2 His descriptions of the slums of Harbin are graphic, often ghoulishly poetic. As one might expect of a member of the Japanese military, which at the time pulled the strings of the Manchukuo (滿洲國 1931-1945) puppet government, the report included language that described the Chinese and Korean residents of the slum in condescending and derogatory terms. Yet Gotō also brought a sophisticated understanding of the tragedies of his subjects’ lives to the document. He returned time and again to the conditions of migration and loss of community as causes of delinquency. 1 This article is based on Hinkōshō Chihō Hōan Kyoku (Hinkō Prefecture Regional Public Safety Bureau), Keimu Sōkyoku (Manchurian Police Bureau), Kanminzoku shakai jittai chōsa: Daikan ’en no kaibō (Investigation into the social conditions of the Chinese race: autopsy of the garden of grand vision), 1942, National Diet Library, Tokyo, Japan. The investigation detailed in the report was completed in 1941. 2 Katō Toyotaka, in volume one of his history of the Manchukuo police, names Gotō Reiji as one of three people—each with surnames ending in the character “tō” nicknamed “the three ‘tō’ group” (san-tō guruupu)—responsible for the investigation. He also uses Gotō Sensei as the main character of his short novel, Daikan’en: shōsetsu (Garden of grand vision: a novel) (Matsuyama: Ehime Tsushinsha, 1974). The report itself was anonymous. In 2002, however, a formal copy of the Autopsy of the Garden of Grand Vision was published by Harashobō listing Satō Shinichirō (19091999 ) as the author. After the war—and after spending time in prison—Satō became a professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, where he is remembered as a gifted scholar and lively lecturer. Clearly it was Satō’s wish to keep his involvement with the report private while he lived. I would like to thank the anonymous reader of this article who alerted me to the 2002 reissue of Autopsy of the Garden of Grand Vision, which came out shortly after my last visit to Tokyo. In this article I have continued to cite Gotō Reiji, who apparently died at the end of the Pacific War as the report’s author. See Katō Toyotaka, Manshūkoku kenryoku no jittai ni tsuite (Concerning the actual condition of power in Manchukuo) (Matsuyama: Man-Mō Dōhō Engokai Ehime-ken Shibu, 1968), vol. 1, Manshūkoku keisatsu shōshi (Short history of the Manchukuo police), 195. Volume 32, No. 1 TWENTIETH-CENTURY CHINA 37 In spite of its rich content, the Autopsy was never intended for publication. When finished, a copy went to the Hinkō (濱江 Harbin Area) Bureau of Public Safety where it was classified “Top Secret (極祕 gokuhi).” After the war, copies of the report went to both the United States Library of Congress and the Japanese National Diet Library. In the latter, it lay buried among volumes of declassified records of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy. The nightmarish world of the Garden became public thirty years later through the efforts of Katō Toyotaka (加藤豊隆 1918...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 36-55
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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