Session 38: Room 11-311
Individual Papers on Shōwa Culture

Chair: Janine Beichman, Daito Bunka University  

1) James Dorsey, Dartmouth College
Censored Songs of Showa Japan: Silence Speaking Volumes

While it is true that the meaning of cultural artifacts (novels, films, songs) is negotiated through a dialogue between the producers (writers, directors, singers) and the audience, it is equally true that this conversation has been predetermined by largely invisible entities before the artifact enters the marketplace.  The most influential entity shaping the public conversation of popular music is undoubtedly the Japan Federation of Public Broadcasting.  Its recommendations, first issued in 1959 and revised periodically through 1991, advise against the dissemination of 1) music that might be offensive to racial, ethnic, national or occupational identities, 2) music that might direct empathy or curiosity toward criminal or violent behavior, 3) music that evokes graphic sexual imagery, or that might threaten the social order by depicting impure pleasures or extra-marital affairs, 4) music that is decadent, nihilistic, anti-social, or that is exceedingly gloomy, and 5) music that alludes even indirectly to the broadcasting standards issued by the federation.  This paper will analyze songs suppressed in the 1960s and 1970s under these guidelines or (ironically) due to the intervention of progressive groups dedicated to social reform.  Discussion with include the following songs and topics: “Kuso kurae bushi” (The eat shit song) and “Heraide” by Okabayashi Nobuyasu (anti-social behavior; the emperor system); “Imujingawa” (The Imjin River) by the Folk Crusaders (the politics of the Koreas); “Jieitai ni hairoo” (Let’s join the Self-Defense Forces) and “Skinship Blues” by Takada Wataru (national identities; sexual imagery); and “Hoso kinshi-ka” (Censored Songs) by Yamahira Kazuhiko (federation guidelines).

2) Atsuko Sakaki, University of Toronto
The Face in the Shadow of the Camera: Corporeality of the Photographer in Kanai Mieko’s Narratives

Kuwabara Kineo (b. 1913), whose photographic work was resurrected in late 1960s by renowned artists and critics such as Tōmatsu Shōmei, Hosoe Eikō, Araki Nobuyoshi and Taki Kōji, problematizes the complacence which photographers often assume in taking pictures of others in his essays collected in Watakushi no shashinshi (1973). Drawing upon Walter Benjamin, Kuwabara addresses sensation he experiences as he maneuvers the camera, film, and prints, and as he eludes encounters with the people whom he photographs, revealing how corporeal the photographer's presence is. Kanai Mieko (b. 1947), then best known for her poetry, shares this concern in "Miru mono no nikutai wa dokode chokuritsu suruka" (1970), an essay on the gaze that people within photographs return to the camera. Citing Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Kanai critiques the purported absence of the seer's body in photographs he/she takes.  She complicates the dialectic of the seer and seen in short stories such as "Mado" (1976) and "Ki no hako" (1976), resonating Kuwabara's self-conscious reflection on the photographer's awkward position. While more famous for her effective use of the cinematic register, photography continued to play a formative role in Kanai's later fiction that dislocates narrative authority, such as Karui memai (1997), in which she commends Kuwabara's ethical operation of the eye, finger and feet as he photographs passers-by on the street. In this paper, I will show that Kanai uses photography strategically in order to elaborate the interface involving parties both sides of the registering apparatus, be it camera or pen.

3) Wibke Voss, Free University Berlin
Postmodern Parody and Mitate: Transcontextuality in Yokoo Tadanori’s Posters for Angura Engeki

As the title suggests the paper examines transcontextual phenomena in Yokoo Tadanori's posters for the Japanese tJapan's long work hours have drawn significant attention over the years: first they were seen as a sign of national diligence and rapid economic development, but now they are viewed as a problem due to the health risks they impose on workers. While men's overwork in Japan has long been perceived as a social problem, how such work hours have shaped women's experiences hasn't been studied. In the context of the U.S. workplace, it is well known that the organizational belief in the image of the ideal worker as a "man with a housewife" has caused male workers who work long hours to be rewarded. Women have also been more likely to be penalized by cultural expectations that they should remain caretakers and mothers, and have resorted to the gender strategies of remaining single or "opting out." Building on previous studies of gender inequality in the workplace, this paper explores how organizational cultures emphasizing long work hours in Japan have reinforced gender inequality in the workplace. Through in-depth interviews with 64 workers, I look at five firms in two industries that have distinctly different gender compositions in their regular workforces: the cosmetics industry and the financial services industry. The paper focuses on three aspects of workplace dynamics, in which the organizational norm of long work hours influences gender division and reinforces workplace gender inequality: 1) women's career paths and future prospects; 2) gender stereotypes; and 3) the overburdening of working mothers.heatre-movement angura engeki from 1965 to 1970. With the aim to develop a concept to analyse and interpret Yokoo Tadanori's art in an appropriate way, i.e. neither in a restrict Japanese nor in a eurocentric viewpoint, 'Western' parody and Japanese mitate are compared as two principle concepts of 20th century art discourse. In case of parody the paper concentrates on definitions of parody by significant theorists like Michael Bachtin, Gerard Genette and Linda Hutcheon among others, who developed concepts of parody as a humorous multilayered text. In case of mitate the paper stresses on a survey of mitate as a 20th century art historic concept upon Edo period ukiyo-e. The comparison of parody and mitate leads to a transcontextual concept to analyse art works from a transcultural viewpoint. This approach approximates the way contemporary art acts transcultural through inherent relationships to other art works in form of quotations, associations and stylistic references. Yokoo Tadanori's theatre posters of the 1960s with its kaleidoscopic references to the Japanese AND European art canon are a perfect example for this work-inherent art discourse across time and space. Through a detailed analysis of one of Yokoo's posters the paper tries to gain reciprocal insights into both Yokoo's art and transcontextuality as a transcultural concept of interpretation.

4) Kendall Heitzman, Yale University
Two Palimpsests: Tokyo and Yasuoka Shōtarō’s Autobiographical Fiction

In his early sixties, Yasuoka Shōtarō (1920-) wrote a series of essays that were published twice in book form as Boku no Tokyo chizu (My Map of Tokyo, 1985, revised 2006).  The collection could be considered a “spatial” companion to his more temporally-minded Boku no Shōwa-shi (My Shōwa History, 1984-88).  Where Boku no Showa-shi was a personal history that brought to the surface incidents and perspectives that institutional histories and collective memory have largely effaced, Boku no Tokyo chizu is a guide to a city that exists only in memory, one over which a mega-metropolis has been inscribed.  In it, Yasuoka sees the city as it is, but also as what it was in his youth: Aoyama as the ignominious outskirts of the city, Kanda as a firebombed wasteland, Yasukuni Jinja as the shrine next door.  At the same time, Yasuoka discusses Tokyo as the setting of much of his autobiographical fiction, a genre that is itself an overwriting, of the author’s own experiences: a year or two at a Buddhist temple school in Akabane, a misspent youth in a now-vanished Tsukiji neighborhood.  This discussion will treat the parallels and interplay of these two palimpsests, the city and the story, to see what is recovered through the use of these double lenses, as well as what was never lost at all.