Kazuko Kuramoto was born and raised in Dairen, Manchuria, in 1927, at the peak of Japanese expansionism in Asia. Dairen and the neighboring Port Arthur were important colonial outposts on the Liaotung Peninsula; the train lines established by Russia and taken over by the Japanese, ended there. When Kuramoto's grandfather arrived in Dairen as a member of the Japanese police force shortly after the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the family's belief in Japanese supremacy and its "divine" mission to "save" Asia from Western imperialists was firmly in place. As a third-generation colonist, the seventeen-year-old Kuramoto readily joined the Red Cross Nurse Corps in 1944 to aid in the war effort and in her country's sacred cause. A year later, her family listened to the emperor's radio broadcast ". . . we shall have to endure the unendurable, to suffer the insufferable." Japan surrendered unconditionally.
Manchurian Legacy is the story of the family's life in Dairen, their survival as a forgotten people during the battle to reclaim Manchuria waged by Russia, Nationalist China, and Communist China, and their subsequent repatriation to a devastated Japan. Kuramoto describes a culture based on the unthinking oppression of the colonized by the colonizer. And, because Manchuria was, in essence, a Japanese frontier, her family lived a freer and more luxurious life than they would have in Japan—one relatively unscathed by the war until after the surrender.
As a commentator Kuramoto explores her culture both from the inside, subjectively, and from the outside, objectively. Her memoirs describe her coming of age in a colonial society, her family's experiences in war-torn Manchuria, and her "homecoming" to Japan—where she had never been—just as Japan is engaged in its own cultural upheaval.
Meanings of Antiquity is the first dedicated study of how the oldest Japanese myths, recorded in the eighth-century texts Kojiki and Nihon shoki, changed in meaning and significance between 800 and 1800 CE. Generations of Japanese scholars and students have turned to these two texts and their creation myths to understand what it means to be Japanese and where Japan fits into the world order.As the shape and scale of the world explained by these myths changed, these myths evolved in turn. Over the course of the millennium covered in this study, Japan transforms from the center of a proud empire to a millet seed at the edge of the Buddhist world, from the last vestige of China’s glorious Zhou Dynasty to an archipelago on a spherical globe. Analyzing historical records, poetry, fiction, religious writings, military epics, political treatises, and textual commentary, Matthieu Felt identifies the geographical, cosmological, epistemological, and semiotic changes that led to new adaptations of Japanese myths. Felt demonstrates that the meanings of Japanese antiquity and of Japan’s most ancient texts were—and are—a work in progress, a collective effort of writers and thinkers over the past 1,300 years.
The quintessential international genre, detective fiction often works under the guise of popular entertainment to expose its extensive readership to complex moral questions and timely ethical dilemmas. The first book-length study of interwar Japanese detective fiction, Murder Most Modern considers the important role of detective fiction in defining the country’s emergence as a modern nation-state.
Kawana explores the interactions between the popular genre and broader discourses of modernity, nation, and ethics that circulated at this pivotal moment in Japanese history. The author contrasts Japanese works by Edogawa Ranpo, Unno Juza, Oguri Mushitaro, and others with English-language works by Edgar Allan Poe, Dashiell Hammett, and Agatha Christie to show how Japanese writers of detective fiction used the genre to disseminate their ideas on some of the most startling aspects of modern life: the growth of urbanization, the protection and violation of privacy, the criminalization of abnormal sexuality, the dehumanization of scientific research, and the horrors of total war.
Kawana’s comparative approach reveals how Japanese authors of the genre emphasized the vital social issues that captured the attention of thrill-seeking readers-while eluding the eyes of government censors.
Sari Kawana is assistant professor of Japanese at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
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