Stream C

Connecting Japan to the past, present, and future

C1. Making-Thinking in Multispecies of Japan: From Robots and Slime Mould to Architectural Bricolage and Bamboo Weaving

Wednesday, 5th September, 15:30 - 17:10

This interdisciplinary panel will unfold how cultural makers, thinkers, and marketers of nature in Japan engaged in making and thinking as an essentially symbiotic process with more-than-human multispecies. In so doing, distinctive histories of humanoid robots and microorganism slime mould to architectural bricolage and bamboo weaving from Tokugawa period to the very present will reveal adaptive cultures of nature that swung between the narratives of crisis, continuity, and change. In the first proposition the author traces past-present-future continuities, based around craftship and monozukuri within the Japan Inc. socio-technical system. This paper discusses the (national) robot culture by examining industrial-political and sociocultural strategies through a historical lens in relation to the emerging redefinition of Japanese identity. The second author addresses an epistemology of “queer” nature in the intellectual history of modern Japan by unfolding sciences of the naturalist and polymath Minakata Kumagusu (1867–1941). Such method of making sense of the world emerged from empirical observations of slime mould – the microorganism is known as one of the primal forms of life – and historical investigations on more-than-human nature of multi-cultures. The third paper forms an epistemological inquiry into architectural dwelling practices through an investigation of “bricolage” in the rural areas of contemporary Japan. In so doing, the author proposes a re-lecture of the Claude Lévi-Strauss’s notion with a focus on the processes of breakage, small acts of repair, maintenance, care and inhabitation in a context of material crisis in the Anthropocene. The final paper posits the craft of Japanese bamboo weaving as a framework for the development of behaviour-based models for living, directly associated with those patterns found in nature. Henceforth, providing an insight into how we, as human beings, might determine our existence in the Anthropocene futurescape.

The Making of the National Robot History in Japan

Mateja Kovacic, University of Oxford and University of Sheffield, [email protected]

This paper contributes a genealogical perspective to the study of contemporary robots in Japan. By introducing the monozukuri DNA discourse in the anthropological-historical debate about robots, the author discusses the ongoing processes and phenomena that are shaping the emergent national robot culture through the making of the national robot history. By arguing a series of conscious integrated efforts by the Japanese manufacturing industry and the government, set in the industrial policy, to use traditional craftship and the monozukuri discourse to construct the idea of “Japaneseness,” the author proposes to view the ongoing societal robotisation as part of these efforts. The aims of these efforts are multifold: from invigorating economy to battling shrinking population and labour force.

The paper proposes to look at different “sites of inscription” and mobilisations of Japanese modern and Tokugawa period (1603 – 1867) history that produce the idea of robot genealogy and of genealogy of Japan as the robot-society in order to facilitate and legitimise Japan as the “Robot Kingdom.” In other words, the national robot history in the making is part of the industrial-governmental efforts that conscribe the history of technology as well as the modern notions of ‟Japaneseness” to reassert Japanese cultural uniqueness globally and domestically.

Making Sense of the World: Queering More-Than-Human Nature with Slime Mould in Modern Japanese Intellectual History

Eiko Honda, University of Oxford, [email protected]

From environmentalists to feminists, humanities scholars argued that the ever-deepening ecological crisis and continuing race and gender inequalities originate in science deriving from Cartesian beliefs, where heteronormative Caucasian males hold power over pliant nature – including women and non-Caucasians. But what if, nature was “queer”? The notion of “queer ecology” has been proposed by the influential scholar Timothy Morton in the recent years. However, similar epistemology — a method of making sense of the world — had already been imagined in the modern Japanese intellectual history, in a way in which overcomes the identity politics of modern liberal thoughts still permeating the present day.

This paper unfolds the epistemology of “queer” nature that emerged from empirical observations of slime mould – the microorganism is known as one of the primal forms of life – and historical investigations on more-than-human nature of multi-cultures. Such view was embraced by the naturalist and polymath Minakata Kumagusu (1867—1941). He pursued sciences of freedom and nature in the midst of changing cultural politics that defined such knowledge while living and researching in Japan, the US, and the UK with extensive time at the late 19th century British Museum.

Bricolage as a practice: the case of Ishinomaki Laboratory

Camille Sineau, University of Aberdeen, [email protected]

This paper proposes an epistemological inquiry into architectural and dwelling practices through the notion of bricolage in contemporary Japan. In the context of the anthropocene, where human activities are having a manifest impact on a geological scale, architects and creative practices at large are facing a shift in paradigm and an important reset in practice. In the light of this observation, I would like to explore the notion of Bricolage and propose a re-lecture of Levi Strauss's notion through contemporary Japanese practices of mending and repair in a context of material and humanitarian crisis. Moreover, I would suggest that Bricolage echoes with older Japanese environmental and philosophical concepts. Through a process of breakage, small acts of repair, maintenance, care and inhabitation, bricolage can be seen as an act of economical, political and ecological resistance akin to a process of growth, like plants thriving through debris and interstices.

For doing so, I will draw this paper on the case of the Ishinomaki Laboratory. Founded by Keiji Ashizawa and Takahiro Chiba in 2011 in the town of Ishinomaki a few months after the Tohoku earthquake. The laboratory first started as a common repair space made available to anyone in need for material support. It quickly expanded in a series of small repair initiatives all around town and is today an international design reference in DIY furniture making.

Bamboo Weaving as Knowledge Practice: Exploring Behaviour-Based Models for Living in the Anthropocene Futurescape

Jo McCallum, University of the Arts, [email protected]

Keywords: Transdisciplinary Practice Research, Japanese Bamboo Weaving, Digital Craft, Pattern Formation Language, Hybridisation, Anthropocene Futurescape.

Throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries advances in digital fabrication methods have reduced the reliance on handmade crafts, resulting in a decline in practice. This paper will explore how one craft, Japanese bamboo weaving, has followed a distinct path, determined by a process of cultural borrowing, hybridisation and transformation, often driven by the patronage, and influence of a Western buyer’s market. This narrative of change has resulted in a repositioning of the craft, from the domain of misfits and outcasts, to the province of international artists. Within this context is a clear proposition regarding the global image of what it is to be a craft maker in Japanese, with specific reference to environmental philosophy. I intend to query how this representation relates to knowledge practice, in an experiential sense. Can the practice of this craft reveal behaviour-based models for living, directly associated with those patterns found in nature? Is Japanese bamboo weaving a critical element in the way we, as humans, manifest nature’s structural processes? Henceforth, providing an insight into how we might determine our existence in the Anthropocene futurescape. This consideration relies on a process of transformative social change and continuity, one focused on the acceptance of Japanese bamboo weaving as a practice capable of developing and defining a set of adaptive ecologies, and as a pattern formation language through which to weave connected structures. In this sense, Japanese bamboo weaving has the potential to operate as both a methodology, and as a technical framework for change.

C2. From Edo Castle to Imperial Palace: 150 Years of Power, Conflict, and Heritage

Thursday, 6th September, 0900 - 10:30

The Imperial Palace defines the urban space of central Tokyo. It was considered the most expensive real estate in the world in the late twentieth century, and cultural theorists have portrayed this restricted green space as a central “void” that reflects unique Japanese power structures. The moats and walls that surround the Imperial Palace, public parks, and government buildings, and give shape to neighborhoods, streets, and train lines, are witnesses to Japan’s turbulent modern history. The current Imperial Palace lies at the centre of the much larger Edo Castle, home to the Tokugawa shoguns until their surrender to imperial loyalist troops in 1868. By relocating from Kyoto, the imperial house enhanced its authority by taking over the seat of the old regime, which was renamed the Imperial Castle. Many of the old Edo Castle buildings were destroyed with scant concern for heritage. At the same time, the use of this space, with its moats and walls, created a physical link between the modern state and the nation’s traditions that became increasingly important. The castle was also home to a major military garrison, reinforcing the image of the emperor as the supreme commander of the armed forces. After Japan’s surrender in 1945, the country was de-militarized under the Allied Occupation. The “castle” became a “palace”, and military land became public space symbolic of the new democratic Japan. This panel explores the modern history of the former Edo Castle in light of broader developments in Japan and abroad.

The Destruction and Rediscovery of Edo Castle: Romantic Ruins, War Ruins

Judith Fröhlich, University of Zurich, [email protected]

Castles were an important symbol of the Tokugawa state order, signifying the realm of daimyo as well as the privileges conferred by the Tokugawa shoguns. The castle in Edo was the largest, representing the supremacy of the Tokugawa house as the head of the warrior elite of Japan. After 1868, the entry of the Emperor into the castle precincts and reconstruction of the site amounted to a ‘metaphor of action’, erasing history and by the same token introducing a new political era. The site of the old castle, however, retained an ambiguous meaning as residence of the Emperor as well as former residence of the shogun. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, several photographic documentations were published. I argue that whereas early photographs from the 1870s suggest the discovery of ‘romantic ruins’ in Japan, imbuing the Tokugawa period with a nostalgic touch, by the 1930s under militarization, publications suggest that the castle site advanced to nationalist symbol of the samurai spirit that was in a field of tension with the ‘ideology of the Emperor system’.

The Imperial Castle and the Militarization of Urban Space in Imperial Japan

Oleg Benesch, University of York, [email protected]

The consolidation of power by the new Meiji government after 1868 was an extended process that initially discredited the symbols of the old Tokugawa order while appropriating its physical sites. This process was exemplified by government policy towards castles, which were both symbols and physical sites of shogunal authority. The largest and most important castles became garrisons for the Imperial Japanese Army, and many of their buildings were demolished for the construction of barracks and other modern military facilities. The most comprehensive transformation was that of Edo Castle into the ‘Imperial Castle’, home to both the emperor and the Imperial Guard. Just as Japanese delegations to the UK visited Queen Victoria in the medieval fortifications of Windsor Castle, foreign dignitaries called upon Emperor Meiji inside ancient moats and walls, providing a symbolic link with martial traditions. The Imperial Castle dominated the centre of Tokyo, and the military presence in and around the castle contributed to the militarization of urban society in the early twentieth century. From the Hibiya Riot to the Great Kanto Earthquake to the incidents of the 1930s, the military firmly established itself as the holder of physical force in the capital. This paper further explores the tensions between the military and civil society in imperial Japan, as well as the ways in which events in Tokyo were echoed in dozens of other cities throughout the country.

Citadel of Peace: From Imperial Castle to Palace in Occupied Japan

Ran Zwigenberg, Pennsylvania State University, [email protected]

On 1 July 1948, the Imperial Household Agency (IHA) bulletin No. 13 announced that the 1888 decree naming the Imperial Palace (kōkyo) an Imperial Castle (kyūjō) was hereby abolished. The brief laconic entry was the high point of much political maneuvering and debate concerning the fate of the Imperial Castle as a residence for Japan’s newly transformed monarchy. For the emperor to reside in a site associated with “feudalism” and “warriors’ fortifications” was no longer deemed acceptable for many in the new Japan. By changing the site’s name, the IHA sought to disassociate the emperor from the castle and save imperial property from confiscation. Such a move, however, was highly contested and it prompted a multi sided debate. The disputes over the castle’s fate included interventions by the occupying Americans, the IHA, progressives, communists, and Tokyo city planners. The latter sought to evict the emperor and claim the land for the city. Such high-profile debates were part of a much larger transformation of the image of castles in postwar Japan. Whereas in late 1945 the Imperial Castle and others were seen as negative symbols of militarism, by the mid 1950’s they were presented as completely different sites; repurposed and reclaimed as symbols of culture and peace. The Edo Castle’s transformation, this paper argues, first into Tokyo Castle and then Imperial Castle and finally into an Imperial Palace was both symbolic of this larger historical change and a prime cause of it.

C3. Human Waste in Order and Place

Wednesday, 6th September, 11:00 - 12:30

Panel sponsored by Japan Forum (the official journal of BAJS published by Taylor & Francis) and hosted at the Japan Research Centre, SOAS, University of London

David Howell, Harvard University, [email protected]

Alexander Bay, Chapman University, [email protected]

Linda Galvane, Stanford University, [email protected]

"Where there is dirt there is system," writes Mary Douglas. There is also, often enough, humans. This round table will consider the collision of humans and system from the perspective of the "human wastes" of blood, shit, urine, and infant remains. Chaired by David Howell, this interdisciplinary panel features three case studies which explore human waste as a historically and linguistically useful act, actor, and archive. Waste, when expelled, connects people to place through those parts of the body usually socially invisible. These places might include an open toilet in Edo, lush and fertilised fields, the recesses of a locker in Tokyo station, or the rumpled sheets of sexual encounters.

The encounter between waste and place is given meaning through structures which discipline bodies and places. This discipline takes many forms across Japan's history: urban planning, hygiene education, literary representation and the mass media. In situating human waste at the meeting point of order and place, this panel asks:

- Of what "use" is waste?
- How have representations of waste contributed to discourses on moral and physical contamination?
- What do changing acts of disposal tell us about the meanings given to waste?
- Where and how do waste and pleasure meet?

C4. Crisis, critique and creativity in the Japanese videogame industry

Thursday, 6th September, 13:30 - 15:10

This panel examines the Japanese videogame industry from the perspective of cultural content and game design, showing how creativity in characterization, world-building and level of difficulty can lead to social critique and industry innovation. Mimi Okabe first analyzes popular titles from the Phoenix Wright (Gyakuten Saiban) series, demonstrating Japan’s ongoing crisis of identity from Meiji to the present, situating Japan on the axis of Orient-Occident and problematizing the imperial past of both England and Japan. Frank Mondelli examines ideology and social critique in Persona 5, set in a politically corrupt contemporary Tokyo in which the player-character must act as an ethical individual to progress. Rachael Hutchinson shifts the discussion to matters of genre, asking which videogame genres are more conducive to social or political critique. Racing and fighting games are set against roleplaying, tactical and strategy games, all of which deliver nationalistic or counter-discursive ideology in different ways. Finally, James Newman considers Nintendo’s response to fan creativity in the production of Kaizō game levels in Super Mario Maker – impossibly difficult hacks which could have caused a crisis for Nintendo’s friendly image. Newman demonstrates that Nintendo, far from being a slow monolith incapable of change, seized the opportunity to counter the crisis with corporate flexibility, ultimately reinforcing its own design principles. Together, the papers in this panel aim to show the Japanese game industry as a creative force for social critique and fan engagement, a dynamic site for exploring and problematizing crisis in contemporary Japan.

Global Crime Fighters: Detecting Japan’s “Crisis” of Identity in Daigyakuten Saiban 1 & 2

Tsugumi (Mimi) Okabe, tUniversity of Alberta, [email protected]

Questions of what constitutes a Japanese identity and of Japan’s participation on the global stage are not new, but can be traced to cultural debates that emerged in the works of detective fiction writers such as Edogawa Rampo, Okamoto Kidō and Yokomizo Seishi throughout the Meiji and Taishō eras. These authors utilised the genre to make sense of contentious questions regarding Japan’s crisis of identity, but in different ways. Significantly however, traces of such debates are found in contemporary Japanese videogames. While much criticism has been paid to the field of Japanese detective fiction (Silver; Saito; Kawana; Seaman), there have been fewer attempts to draw a connection between detective narratives and the stories told in detective/mystery games. This presentation explores that gap in a critical analysis of Daigyakuten Saiban 1 & 2 released by Capcom July 9th 2015 and August 3rd 2017, respectively. The game, which playfully renders Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes with whom the player (as Naruhodō) solves a series of cases, troubles the notion of the “Great” detective by portraying Holmes as a clumsy detective. By situating this presentation within ongoing critical discourses on Occidentalism and Japanese orientalism (Robertson; Chen; Hutchinson), among the vital questions I investigate are: as the Tokyo Olympic draws near, how do Japanese video games consolidate the ambivalence of the Far East/ West from the past and present? What are the risks of a game that appropriates the imperial, historical context of both England and Japan to assert a sense of self?

Ideological Distortion: The Aesthetics of Social Reform in Persona 5

Frank Mondelli, Standford University, [email protected]

From its opening moments, the popular Japanese role-playing game Persona 5 (2016) encourages its players to demand political reform for a more just and equitable society. The protagonist, an ostracized victim of political corruption, awakens to supernatural powers that enable him to pursue a particular brand of social reform that involves forcing corrupt adults in positions of power to have a “change of heart” and confess their crimes. In this talk, I illustrate how Persona 5’s level design, plot, and characterization engage with contemporary societal problems and real-life figures to depict an image of deep socio-political crisis. In contrast to the game’s premise, Persona 5 ultimately identifies the mechanics of ideology, or the means through which social reality is formed, as dependent on an aggregation of the perceptions of all members of society, not just the will of a powerful few. As such, the game presents a sharp social critique and call to action, suggesting that political apathy and conformism enable a populist politics detrimental to society. Through a critical analysis of this call for social transformation, I touch on questions concerning the game’s depiction of socio-political hegemony, relationship with contemporary political events, and appropriation of Jungian psychology and social justice ideals. I also draw on contributions to critical theory and media studies by scholars like Walter Benjamin and Tosaka Jun to illustrate how the game’s portrayal of everyday life reveals concerns over mass identity and culture in a shifting socio-political landscape.

Signs of the times: Japanese videogame genres and contemporary critique

Rachael Hutchinson, University of Delaware, [email protected]

Whether or not videogames reflect current events, including times of political and social crisis, has a lot to do with genre. While racing and fighting games are loaded with social signifiers regarding race and gender, they rarely include imagery or themes connected to current events. Narrative-heavy games such as the RPG or action-adventure genre have much more leeway to take on thematic concerns, with social environments and the psychological development of characters being more significant in these genres. It has been argued that 3D virtual environments and social realism go hand in hand, as verisimilitude to the real world aids in player involvement and immersion, as well as player-character identification (McMahan 2003). This sense of realism extends to the politics, religion and energy infrastructure of imagined worlds. However, not all RPG or action games utilize realism for critical ends. I will compare Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid against The Legend of Zelda to show how two of the best-selling game franchises of modern Japan display both allegorical and direct engagement with current events, while the third remains staunchly apolitical. All three series, however, stand apart from the glorification of national ideology found in history-laden real-time strategy games. Although most Japanese war-themed videogames focus on reenacting the past, recent incarnations envision an alternate reality where Japan enjoys victory in the Pacific. I will close with a consideration of this development in terms of the rise of conservative right-wing ideology in contemporary Japan.

Asshole Mario: ROM Hacking, Kaizo and Nintendo’s battle to (re)claim ownership of Super Mario

James Newman, Bath Spa University, [email protected]

Super Mario Maker (SMM, 2015) is an extension of Nintendo’s Super Mario series that offers the ability to create, share and play new stages using a gamified, and characteristically accessible, suite of level design tools. However, just a few seconds into the 7-minute pre-release promotional video for SMM, scenes unlike anything witnessed in any previous Mario game take centre stage. Screen-filling clusters of enemies bear down on the player instantly subverting expectations about the ‘player-centric’ (Fullerton 2008) nature of Nintendo’s accessible game designs.

These sequences reference the unofficial (and technically illegal), practice of ROM hacking in which, using specially-developed software tools and emulation systems, amateur designers create and share new Super Mario levels. In particular, the promo video replicates a type of ROM Hack known as ‘Kaizo’ design which sees the creation of excessive, almost impossibly hard levels that require extraordinary skill, unthinkable techniques such as deliberately sacrificing characters to progress, and that gleefully trap and taunt the player as they fail. Often known as ‘Asshole Mario’ levels, these are archetypes of ‘abusive’ game design’ (Wilson and Sicart 2010) and make an initially surprising addition to Nintendo corporate promotions.

This paper considers Nintendo’s endorsement of Kaizo as a recognition of fan practice and, alternatively, as an attempt to appropriate these game design approaches. By exploring how the company gatekeeps the proprietary network for uploading and sharing levels, the paper interrogates SMM as a site explicitly created by Nintendo to reclaim ownership of Mario as an object of design and, counterintuitively, reassert the sanctity of its design principles.

C5. Reconfiguring Ruins in 20th Century Japan

Thursday, 6th September, 15:30 - 17:00

At various points in the 20th century – notably after the urban destruction of the 1923 Tokyo earthquake; the catastrophic firebombings of Tokyo at the end of the Second World War and the unanticipated Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 – ruins have emerged as key motifs in Japanese culture. Visions of ruined landscapes enabled urban planners, literary figures, artists and others to consider the uneven social relations of the past, respond to the destruction of the present and imagine what may emerge from that destruction. Ruins remain hot topics in global scholarship, yet this scholarship tends to be firmly rooted in European discourse. Rather than relying on a Eurocentric “ruin-sensibility” based on outmoded Romantic conceptions of the self that reify the relationship of humans to nature, this panel aims to reconfigure the ruin through a specific exploration of its cultural and social function in modern and contemporary Japanese history. We aim here to ‘treat ruins as thresholds, windows that provide unique insights into the relationship between lived pasts, presents and futures’ (Galviz, et. al, 2018). Focusing in on key debates around the ruined city in the aftermath of 1923, 1945 and 1995, we explore the changing meanings of the ruin in Japan and position Japan as an important, if somewhat marginalised, site for exploring the shifting terrain of global ruins discourse.

Rhetorical Ruins: envisioning the future through destruction

Nicholas Risteen, Princeton University, [email protected]

The shock of the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923 encompassed not just widespread destruction in Tokyo and Yokohama, but also a nationalizing and internationalizing of the disaster through the spread of visual documentation. A seemingly endless stream of photographs of famous sites in the city now in ruin captivated the nation and elicited sympathies around the globe. Planners and architects seized on this attention to offer up a new vision for the city’s rebirth, one grounded in ameliorating the urban circumstances that led to the catastrophe’s spread. These idealistic plans moved beyond the simple reconstruction of singular architectural and urban sites to present the city, the nation, and the world with a new vision of a truly modern Imperial City.

Positioning the ruins of Tokyo in the proper rhetorical light proved critical to this venture, one which comes into view through a series of elaborately illustrated books published in the mid- to late-1920s under the general auspices of the Home Ministry. Depicting disaster through various media, Tokyo appears not just in ruins but as a ruinscape, a continuous and pervasive scene of destruction. More importantly for urban planners and architects, however, was the city’s now ‘obvious’ need of reconceptualization. By delicately positioning the famed sites of Tokyo in ruin alongside its broader urban context, these books merge the rhetorics of ruin into the logic of reconstruction by prizing fukkō (復興, revival or renaissance) over fukkȳu (復旧, restoration) and positioning post-quake Tokyo as both model and marvel.

From the Ashes of War: The Ruined City in 1950s Literary Criticism

Mark Pendleton, The University of Sheffield, [email protected]

In 1955 literary critic and later award-winning novelist Hino Keizō argued that the burned-out ruins of the postwar urban landscapes of Japan contained both negative and positive connotations for the war generation, as they revealed the “true essence” of things. “Streets and houses and tree-lined avenues did not meaninglessly disappear,” he wrote. Instead “steel and stone and cement and earth were actually made visible.” Some twelve years later, Nosaka Akiyuki famously coined the phrase yakeato-yamaichi-ha, permanently connecting the burned-out ruins of the aftermath of the war with the deprivation of the postwar captured in the black markets that sprung up after the Japanese defeat.

In this paper I explore representations of the ruined city as Japan emerged from the postwar Occupation, primarily through a reading of the critical works of Hino in a series of essays between 1955 and 1959. In doing so, I ask what function this landscape of ruination, and its revelation of the materiality of everyday life, fulfilled in how urban Japanese were exploring their relationships to their changed cities and envisioning a re-emergent Japan after the destruction of the loss of the war. In reengaging with the work of Hino, I also bring to prominence a key figure in early postwar debates who has been somewhat sidelined in global scholarship on the yakeato generation.

Cities Must Die: Building After the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

Carrie Cushman, Columbia University, [email protected]

Nearly twenty years before Stephen Cairns and Jane M. Jacobs published their groundbreaking manifesto, Buildings Must Die (2014), the Japanese poet Sasaki Mikirō stood amidst the rubble of the Great Hanshi-Awaji Earthquake with a similarly perverse conclusion: “Eventually, all cities turn into ruins.”

On January 17, 1995, in a matter of 20 seconds, much of the city of Kobe was reduced to a pile of rubble, only to be followed by a series of fires sparked by the tremors. Today, the event is remembered for the inadequate and poorly managed response of the central and local governments, which signaled the need for new research in emergency preparedness and disaster relief. It was the worst natural disaster in Japan since the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, and it occurred exactly fifty years after Allied firebombing annihilated much of the country during World War II. Memories of both events shaped public response to the major loss of life and infrastructure that once again burdened the country. As demonstrated by Sasaki, however, many leading cultural figures called for a response that dismissed typical narratives of victimization to ask how, moving forward, Japanese society might accept the reality of certain ruination and rebuild according to that fate. “How can cities and buildings be ruined…gently?” he implored. In this paper, I will examine early responses to the 1995 disaster that demonstrate how the ruins themselves became the premise for a radical rethinking of urban planning and building in Japan.

C6. Photography and Crisis: Representation, Gender, Performance, and Environment in 20th Century Japan

Friday, 7th September, 09:00 - 10:30

One need only reflect on the myriad ways in which avant-garde photographic techniques were put to use as nationalist propaganda in order to understand the history of photography in the 20th century as a terrain of ideological contestation. Japan is no exception in this regard: from its birth within the context of capitalist industrial revolution to its twentieth century uses as a weapon of war and subsequent tool for critique of Japan’s role in the Cold War order, photography has made itself available to a wide range of impulses. Still, if it is the case that photographs do not “reflect” their historical conjuncture, what would it mean to represent a crisis photographically? This panel proposes directions for addressing whether photography has an intrinsic relationship to crisis in addition to how crises within photography have figured crises outside of the medium. In examining crises of the environment, gender, and representation in Japanese photography from the 1930s to 1970s, this panel will address ways in which photography has been utilized to represent key problems facing Japanese society at the same time that the medium itself has drawn out questions of representability itself.

“Or, We Could Quit Being Photographers”: Nakahira Takuma and the Crisis of the Image Circa 1972

Dan Abbe, University of California Los Angeles, [email protected]

Provoke was a self-published journal of photography and criticism that lasted for three issues between 1968 and 1969. The magazine, published in Tokyo, is noted for a bracing formal strategy through which its photographs broke with modernist values of clarity, leaving behind only half-legible, blurred images. Given that an exhibition bearing its name recently toured Europe and the United States, though, the magazine’s potentially radical strategy has firmly become a part of photography’s canon. However, even if the recent institutional attention lavished on Provoke might be seen as a co-optation, things were never so cut and dry. The magazine ended publication in 1969, and not even a year later, Provoke’s blurry aesthetic was used in Japan Railways’ “Discover Japan” advertising campaign, turning what had been intended as a radical gesture into a vehicle of national development. In response, Provoke member Nakahira Takuma wrote a series of essays in which he put the very figure of a “photographer” up for debate—or, perhaps more accurately, in crisis. For the “Discover Japan” campaign was just one instance of what Nakahira saw as a new and particularly dangerous relationship between photographs and mass media. His intensely critical essays were not only a theoretical exercise; they also extended to his own practice as a photographer. In this essay, I will situate Nakahira’s activity in the early 1970s as a response to the crisis of what a “photographer” could potentially be or do.

Tokiwa Toyoko and the Postwar Crisis of Role of Women in Photographic Practice

University of California Los Angeles, Kelly McCormick, [email protected]

On the 14th of May 1955, the police were called to investigate the report of public obscenity in a park in Yokohama. At the scene of the crime they found a group of amateur photographers and their naked, female models. This incident spurned a series of discussions about the nature of art as critics and photographers alike ruminated on the fine line between pornography and art photography. Following up on the story, on July 30, 1955, the Asahi Shinbun reported that the organizers and three models were indicted for public obscenity (kōzen waisetsu). In this paper, I address the nude shooting session craze, which reached its peak from the late 1940s and lasted through the late 1950s, as an expression of postwar anxieties around women entering new workplaces and the social role of photography. I argue the nude shooting session (nūdo satsuekai) should be remembered as a consequential genre of postwar Japanese photography for its role in visualizing the process by which photography became a practice to which women were often excluded. In addressing the ways in which female photographers, such as Tokiwa Toyoko (1930—) commented upon this dynamic through their own representations of the event, I draw attention to the often ignored experiences and of women’s camera work in postwar Japan.

Photographing Performance: Avant-Garde Art in Prewar and Postwar Japan

Jelena Stojković, Arts University Bournemouth, [email protected]

On the eve of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936 Sheila Legge appeared in a performance piece titled Phantom of Sex Appeal. For the occasion, she walked around Trafalgar Square dressed in an evening attire and a headdress made of paper roses, posing for several photographs before proceeding to the nearby Burlington Galleries to mingle with the crowds gathered to hear André Breton’s opening remarks. Conceived by the Surrealist poet and translator David Gascoyne, the performance was paying homage to Salvador Dalī and its photographic documentation, attributed to Claude Cahun, appeared in the same year on the cover of the fourth issue of International Surrealist Bulletin. Almost three decades later, Minoru Hirata documented a seemingly unrelated event: Nakanishi Natsuyuki’s performance titled Clothespins Assert Churning Action, in which he took to the streets of Tokyo for Hi Red Center’s Sixth Mixer Plan in 1963. Given that both performances involved an elaborate headdress, this paper considers the possible parallels between them. In doing so, it regards the relationship between photography and performance as a continuous means of avant-garde artistic practice in both ‘prewar’ and ‘postwar’ Japan.

Burning Earth in Japanese Photography, ca 1965-1970

Bert Winther-Tamaki, University of California Irvine, [email protected]

By 1970 industrial pollution had become so egregious in Japan that many in the media and political establishment finally recognized that it was no longer possible to prioritize high economic growth to the exclusion of environmental welfare. The Japanese photography community was divided into factions of realistic photojournalism, individual expression, and radical critique of representation, but photographers in each of these camps contributed to the broader visual culture of burning earth that came to a head at this juncture. Earth is burned by modern industrial societies for reasons ranging from making ceramic art, firebombing enemy territory in war, incinerating waste, and increasing crop yields by dusting farmland with agrochemicals. Photographers generated vivid images of these various kinds of earth burnings and the ways they shaped human bodies and habitats. Images of burning earth entered into the media stream through photobooks, photography journals, general interest magazines, newspapers, and exhibitions, often accompanied by texts by the photographers that commented on the relationship between the image and the environment. This paper focuses on three sets of photographs of burning earth from the late 1960s and early 1970s: 1) Hanabusa Shinzō’s reportage of suffering in farm villages caused by government policies of industrialized agriculture; 2) Tōmatsu Shōmei’s individualistic documentation of the historical consequences of the 1945 nuclear destruction of the city of Nagasaki; 3) Provoke photographer-theorist Nakahira Takuma’s photography of Yumenoshima, the site of a famous landfill trash burn in Tokyo Bay.

C7. From Rubble to Protest: Japan’s Postwar in Literature and Film: Japan’s Postwar in Literature and Film

Friday, 7th September, 11:00 - 12:30

This panel brings together three papers on aspects of the postwar in Japan.Akito Sakasai will focus on Ishikawa Jun’s “Jesus of the Ruins” (「焼跡のイエス」, considering it not only as a record of the burned-out wasteland, to which most major cities were reduced after the war; but also as the first condition of a new era, and a link to the postwar experiences of European nations. James Raeside will be considering Japanese postwar fiction in relation to trauma. Trauma is a condition particularly associated with war and at the same time one that links war-time suffering with the sufferings of everyday life. The issue of trauma in postwar Japan will be brought more sharply into focus through an examination of certain key texts. Nori Morita takes up the issue of Japan’s reaction to postwar change by considering the film Pigs and Battleships (「豚と軍艦」), a story set against the anpo protests of 1960 and portraying an aspect of the American military presence in Japan. A link can be made with the works of Nosaka Akiyuki, himself a member of the so-called “yakeato generation”, whose stories often depict the uneasy relationship between those who have survived the war and the Americans who now live among them. It will be seen that these papers follow each other in a kind of chronological order: from the immediate physical aftermath of the war, the rubble left by the bombing, to the longer-lasting psychological and moral effects, and then on to a point in Japan’s recent history where memories of conflict and destruction were starting to fade into the nation’s new sense of itself and of its changing relation to its erstwhile enemies and conquerors.

Are Yakeato Ruins?: European ruins and the National Landscape in Post War Japan

Akito Sakasai, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, [email protected]

The aim of this paper is to consider the overlap of images of European ruins on yakeato landscape in post-war Japanese literature. I will clarify the influence that this overlap had on the way post-war Japan formed its collective identity and reinterpreted Japan’s imperial past.
Japanese literature since 1945 repeatedly represented images of devastated and desolate scenery, which can be referred to as yakeato (burnt-out ruins) landscapes. These images clearly derive from the impact of atomic bombs and the rubble-strewn cityscapes left by the American Air Force’s strategic firebombing. This image, however, does not only indicate the actual damage, but is also employed as metaphor to emphasize the beginning of the new nation as a blank page, one onto which a new national history would be inscribed. Thus, the reproduction of this image is strongly connected to the project of rebuilding national identity.

Some of literary works immediately after the war depicted yakeato landscape of Japanese cities as overlapping with images of European ruins. Ishikawa Jun’s short story, “Jesus of the Ruins” (1946) is the best example of such works. By analysing this story, I will argue that the appreciation of European ruins and the overlapping depiction of yakeato landscape can be also read as an attempt to establish a new cultural integrity for Japanese society. I will consider how the re-recognition of European past after the fall of Japan’s empire formed a ground for a new cultural identity of post-war Japan.

Trauma in Postwar Japanese Fiction

James Raeside, Keio University, [email protected]

Both the general topic of trauma and the representation of trauma in literature have been widely discussed in recent years. There is the question of whether trauma can be represented at all and also whether it is possible to distinguish traumatic experience from what Marianna Torgovnick calls only the “trauma-like”. It has also been contended that trauma is the condition of life of all societies in the post-nuclear world. Naturally, given its special status as the only nation to have endured the effects of a nuclear explosion, Japan’s experience might be considered especially relevant here. However, rather than considering only hibakusha literature, I intend to review a number of stories written about the immediate effects of the war where the nature of trauma is similar but not identical. For example, Noma Hiroshi’s “Hōkai kankaku” (「崩壊感覚」and Masuji Ibuse’s “Yōhai taichō” (「遥拝隊長」) deal with trauma both in the sense of a physical wound and of psychological damage; while others, such as Sakaguchi Ango’s two versions of “Sensō to hitori no onna” (「戦争と一人の女」) and Kojima Nobuo’s “Shōjū” (「小銃」) focus on traumatic war-time events underlain by sexual and emotional experiences that might also be regarded as traumatic. In each set of stories one focuses on a perpetrator and one a victim. By taking a variety of examples in this way, I hope to reach some conclusions about trauma as it relates to Japanese postwar fiction and perhaps extend this to observations on the fictional representation of trauma in general.

War, Ampo and Americans: an Allegory in Pigs and Battleships.

Norimasa Morita, Waseda University, [email protected]

Pigs and Battleships (1961) was written by Hisashi Yamauchi and Shohei Imamura (uncredited), who directed it, while the campaign against the Japan-US Security Treaty was reaching its climax. Imamura later reminisced, ‘Prime Minister Kishi’s private residence was in front of the inn where Hisashi Yamauchi and I were finishing the script for Pigs and Battleships. The narrow street separating his residence and our inn was invaded by protesting students and guarding policemen.’ The film is an allegory of the American presence in the post-war Japan (American Navy battleships making Yokosuka their home), the Japanese who were profited from it (local yakuza feeding their pigs on the food waste from the American base for profit), and other Japanese who were exploited by the former two (pigs revolting against the yakuza at the conclusion of the film). This film, like Akiyuki Nosaka’s “Amerika Hijiki,” (「アメリカひじき」) reflects the typically complex sentiments of Japanese intellectuals towards the continuing influence of the American occupation. It is not correct to think that Japanese filmmakers regained complete freedom of expression when the censorship was lifted after the end of the occupation. The self-imposed censorship continued and it further complicated the views of filmmakers like Imamura towards Americans, and their political, economic and cultural dominance, as well as Japanese, and their political, economic and cultural submission.