Post-World War II Period
Asian Timelines Table of Contents Literary & Cultural History
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Post-WWII Showa Period 1945- Present
|Japanese, the official language of Japan, is spoken by virtually all of the country's approximately 125 million inhabitants today, as well as by Japanese living in Hawaii, the Americas, and elsewhere. It is also spoken as a second language by Chinese and Korean people who lived under Japanese occupation during the first half of the 20th century.|
Post-WWII period sees a proliferation of literary
movements in Japan, as well as the rise of Japanese film
and televised broadcasting.
One of Japan's most highly regarded postwar writers, Mishima Yukio, wrote a number of novels, plays, and short stories concerning his despair over the Westernization of his country and his desire for a return to the nobler Japan of earlier times. Among his haunting works are his first novel, the partly autobiographical Confessions of a Mask (1948; trans. 1960), and his tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility (1970; trans. 1972-75), an epic story of modern Japan. The death-obsessed Mishima ended his life by committing ritual hara-kiri.
|After 1951||U.S. occupation of Japan ends; post-WW II Japans rapid economic recovery leads East Asia in modeling the benefits of modernization & industrialization while preserving cultural identity; Asian nations increasingly demonstrate the success of diverse non-Western approaches to life in our post-industrialized modern world.|
|Over time, the Japanese have
established a standard, or common, dialect to facilitate
communication throughout the country. The two dialect families with the
largest number of speakers are the dialect spoken in and
around Tokyo (formerly Edo), which is the common
dialect, and the dialects of the Kansai region in
western Japan, spoken in cities such as Kyoto (formerly
Nara), Osaka, and Kobe. Today, due to use of the common
dialect through television and radio, most people outside
the Tokyo region speak the common dialect, as well as a
local dialect. However, because hogen (dialects) are part of a region's culture, recently a
movement to emphasize their importance has arisen. (See Kansai Ben,
the "most common Japanese dialect.")
Japanese traditionally is written vertically, with lines starting at the right side of the page. While this writing method still predominates, another method, like English, uses horizontal lines and starts from the top left-hand side of the page. There are tens of thousands of characters in the Japanese language. In 1981 the government identified 1945 characters, and increase over the 1850 characters officially identified in 1946, and gave it the name Joyo Kanji List (kanji for daily use.) The characters in the Joyo Kanji List must be learned in primary and secondary schools, and newspapers generally limit the use of characters to this list.
Most characters have at least two readings: the native Japanese reading and the reading that simulates the original Chinese pronunciation of the same character. If the same character came into the Japanese language at different periods or from different Chinese dialects, the character may have several Chinese readings that represent different historical periods and dialectal differences. For example, the character for to go has four different readings: the Japanese reading and three distinct originally Chinese readings.
|"In Children of the
A-Bomb , Arata Osado records
the testimony of a boy who was a fourth-grader in
Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when the crew of the B-29
bomber Enola Gray dropped
the atomic bomb innocuously named Little Boy on that
city. He remembers the refugee camp in some field in the Hiroshima
suburbs, the stench of rotting flesh and bodies
being cremated, the clouds of flies and mosquitoes, and
his mother dying there of wounds and radiation sickness
after almost two weeks of agony. He concludes his flat
list of horrors by saying,
much sorrow makes me like a stranger to myself,
|"By the 1950s and 1960s, Japanese writers who were children and adolescents in the year of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had begun to tell the story of the sorrow in a way that might help them recognize themselves. Hiroko Takenishi's 'The Rite' [1963; trans. Eileen Kato] is one of the most powerful of these semi-autobiographical retellings"("Hiroko Takenishi," Western Literature in a World Context, V. 2, ed. Paul Davis et al, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995; pp. 1889- 1908).|
|Kazuo Ishiguro (b. 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan) moved with his family to England in 1960, when he was 6 years old, believing they would soon return and preparing him to resume life in his native land. However, they stayed in Britain, and Ishiguro grew up straddling two cultures, the Japan of his parents and his adopted country England. Ishiguro graduated the Univ. of Kent with honors in 1978, and earned his M.A. from the Univ. of East Anglia in 1980. Today Ishiguro is considered one of the leading figures in the new generation of writers. Ishiguro writes delicate, subtle, "perfect" novels about the suppression of feelings and emotion. He affirms history's importance to our comprehension of the present, even as he often departs from strict literary realism.|
|1982||A Pale View of the Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel, won the Winifred Holtby Prize of the Royal Society of Literature, was hailed as "a first novel of uncommon delicacy..., and extremely quiet study of extreme emotional turbulence" by the Times Literary Supplement, and has been translated into 13 languages. Critic Cynthia F. Wong judges A Pale View of Hills, with a first person narrator who tells the story of the suicide of one of her daughters, as an excellent example of Maurice Blanchot's theory that narrators recall and relate past experiences to divest themselves of memories and their past. Like his next two novels, the protagonist of A Pale View of Hills, looks back on his or her life, trying to assess the events that have shaped it. The widow recalls her former life in Nagasaki, and while she never mentions the Bomb, it silently stands behind the events recounted in Ishiguros first novel.|
|1968||KAWABATA, YASUNARI, Japan, 1899 - 1972, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature: "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind"|
|Ishiguros second novel, An Artist of
the Floating World, won the esteemed Whitbread Book of the
Year prize in 1986. Masuji Ono, the protagonist, also
reflects on the events shaping his life. Ono spends his
days trying to negotiate the marraigae of his younger
daughter, visiting former haunts and playing with his
young grandson. Through reminiscences and contacts with
old colleagues and students, it is revealed that Ono
squandered his artistic talents and channeled his
creativity into Japan's militaristic propaganda efforts.
In his old age, Ono finds himself condemned for ideas he
held so strongly in his youth.
Remains of the Day received England's top literary award, the 1989 Booker McConnell Prize (administered by the National Book League in the United Kingdom, awarded to the best full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the UK, the Commonwealth, Eire, Pakistan or South Africa). See John Rothfork's Zen Comedy in Commonwealth Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (essay) available: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/6997/mosaic.html.
The film version of Remains of the Day was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Ishiguro's latest novel is The Unconsoled (Knopf, 1995).
interested in is not the actual fact
||Rhapsody in August (Hachigatsu no kyoshikyoku, Japan, 1991), dir. Akira Kurosawa, with Ishiro Honda for some uncredited scenes. based on "Nabe-no-kaka" by Kiyoko Murata. (See Leonard MaltinSummary for Hachigatsu no kyoshikyoku (1991), from Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide [11-17]).|
|Akira Kurosawa (1910 - 1998) trained
first as a painter (he storyboarded his films as
full-scale paintings), then entered the film industry in
1936 as an assistant director, making his directorial
debut in 1943. After working in a wide range of genres,
he made his breakthrough film Rashomon
(trans. In the Woods, Japan) in 1950. Rashomon won
the grand prize at the 1951 Venice International Film Festival (and
gaining worldwide prominance and revealing the richness of Japanese cinema to the
West. It was followed by Ikiru (trans. To
Live, Japan, 1952)
no samurai (trans. The Seven Samurai, Japan, 1954; remade in the USA as
The Magnificent Seven, 1960). The films Kurosawa directed in
the 1960s were very popular, and Yojimbo
(1961) remains one of his major
box office successes in Japan (information courtesy of Anne Wasserman,
MIT, who references Donald Ritchie's Films of Akira
Kurosawa [Rev. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press,
1984] and recommends Yoshimoto's Akira Kurosawa). After lean periods in the 1960s and
attempted suicide in the 1970s, Kurosawa re-emerged, with
the help of admirers Francis Coppola and George Lucas, to make the samurai epic Kagemusha
(trans. The Shadow Warrior, Japan, 1980), which won the
Golden Palm from Cannes in 1980; followed by his second
Shakespeare adaptation Ran
(Japan/France, 1985), which was nominated for Oscar's Best
Director in 1986 and won for costume design. Kurosawa's films
have been popular in the West (including adaptations of Western
genres, authors, and works such as Dostoevsky's The Idiot,
Gorky's The Lower Depths, Shakespeare's Macbeth (Throne
of Blood) and King Lear (Ran). U.S. and
European filmmakers have frequently imitated and remade his
Kurosawa continued to work into his eighties with the more personal films like Dreams (1990) and Rhapsody in August (1991). in 1990, the Academy Awards presents Kurosawa with an Honorary Award for cinematic accomplishments in world cinema. He was awarded the D.W. Griffith Award from the Directors Guild of America in 1992. When Kurosawa died on 6 September 1998, Kabir Chowdhury states: "the world lost one of the greatest film-makers of all the time. His Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of blood (1957) and Yajimbo (1961), to name only four of his remarkable creations, are glorious monuments to his imagination, sensitiveness and ability to handle his chosen themes and establish his particular cinematic style." From "Akira Kurosawa: A Tribute,"Celluloid 20.3 ; rpt. online by Asian Film Connections: Japan: http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/asianfilm/japan/
Asian Film Connections: Japan, presents Akira Kurosawa as a
featured director: http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/asianfilm/japan/
Akira Kurosawa Database (Nobuji Tamura, 1996, Temple Univ.).
Akira Kurosawa (Dan Kim): http://www.fortunecity.com/lavendar/monkeys/273/index2.html
[Films of] Akira Kurosawa, Classic Film & Television (Michael
E. Grost, 2000):
Rashomon is based on two short stories "In a Grove" and "Rashomon," by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (in Rashomon and Other Stories, trans. Takashi Kojima, New York: Liveright, 1952. "In a Grove," pp. 19-33; "Rashomon" pp. 34-44).
Joan Mellon, The Waves at Genji's Door: Japan Through its Cinema (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976).
Bright Lights Film Journal: Japan features articles on "Akira Kurosawa" and "The Seven Samurai," by Gary Morris :http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/japan.html
Rashomon Film commentary/notes by Brett
Johnson, Center for Japanese Studies, Univ. of Michigan: http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/cjs/films/reviews/rashomon.html
|1994||OE, KENZABURO, Japan, b. 1935-, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, as one "who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today" (and see more links from Yahoo)|
Japan Timeline Sources & Resources for Further Study
Bass, Randall. "Kazuo Ishiguro's Life and Works (1954-)." http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/post/ishiguro/kibio.html [Accessed March 1997].
de Bary, William Theodore, ed. Sources of Japanese Tradition. Vols. 1 & 2.
New York: Columbia UP, 1958.
Clerk, Jayana, and Ruth Siegel, eds. Modern Literatures of the Non-Western World: Where the Waters Are Born. New York: Harper, 1995.
Dumoulin, Heinrich, S. J. A History of Zen Buddhism. Trans. Paul Peachey. Boston: Beacon, 1963.
Faure, Bernard. The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.
Fu, Charles Wei-hsun, and Steven Heine, eds. Japan in Traditional and Postmodern Perspectives. Albany: SUNY, 1995.
Giroux, Joan. The Haiku Form. Tuttle, 1974.
"Hiroko Takenishi" and "The Rite" [1963; trans. Eileen Kato]. Western Literature in a World Context, V. 2, ed. Paul Davis et al, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995. 1889- 1908.
Hiroko Takenishi. "The Rite." The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath. Ed. Kenaburo Oe. Grove Press, 1964.
Hisamatsu, Sen'ichi. Biographical Dictionary of Japanese Literature. Kodansha, 1976
Hume, Nancy G., ed. Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader. SUNY Series in Asian Studies Development. Eds. Roger T. Ames and Elizabeth B. Buck. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
Janik, Del Ivan. "No End of History: Evidence from the Contemporary English Novel. Twentieth Century Literature, 41.2 (Summer1995): 160-199. [Available at COCC Library via Infotrac Elec. Coll.: A17134472.]
Kato, Shuichi. A History of Japanese Literature. 3 vols. Kodansha, 1979-83. State Mutual, 1985.
"Kazuo Ishiguro: A Timeline." http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/post/ishiguro/kichron.html [Accessed March 1997.]
Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era. 2v. Holt, 1987. V.1: Nonfiction; V.2; Poetry, drama, and criticism. Preceded by: World Within Walls (Holt, 1976; Grove, 1979) covering 1600-1867.
"Key Aspects of Japan." (in English and Japanese versions). Updated version of the 1993 Traditional Japanese Culture & Modern Japan. LOOK UP THE HTTP ADDRESS ON WEBPAGE!!
Japanese Literature." Microsoft® Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corp.-Funk &. Wagnalls, 1993-1995.
Lebra, Takie Sugiyama. "Self in Japanese Culture." Japanese Sense of Self. Ed. Nancy R. Rosenberger. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. 105-20
.Miner, Earl Roy, Hiroko Odagiri, and Robert E. Morrell. The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985
Morris, Ivan, ed. Dictionary of Selected Forms in Classical Japanese Literature. Columbia, 1966. Handbook to decipher lexical meanings and translate Japanese words into English.
Reischauer, Edwin O. The Japanese. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1977.
Reps, Paul, ed. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings. New York: Doubleday, 1939.
Seidensticker, Edward. Genji Days. Kodansha, 1978, 1984. Reviews a phase of Japanese literary development.
Shigeru Miyagawa. "Japanese Language." Microsoft® Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corp.-Funk & Wagnalls, 1993-1995.
Smith, Huston. The World's Religions. San Francisco: Harper, 1991.
Taylor, Charles. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 1989.
Ueda, Makoto. Modern Japanese Writers and the Nature of Literature. Stanford, 1976. Study examines literary theories, current authors.
Watts, Alan. The Spirit of Zen. New York: Grove P, 1958.
Wong, Cynthia F. "The Shame of Memory: Blanchot's Self-Dispossession in Ishiguro's 'A Pale View of Hills." CLIO 24.2 (Winter 1995): 127- 145. [Available at COCC Library via Infotrac Elec. Coll.: A17174002.]
Yasuda, Kenneth. The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples. 1957. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1995.
Japan Timeline 1: Early Japan (to CE 1185)
Japan Timeline 2: Medieval Period (CE 1160 - 1568)
Japan Timeline 3: Tokugawa and Modern Japan (17th - mid-20th c.)
Japan Timeline 4: Post-World War II Period & Japan Timelines Sources
URL of this webpage: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/tml/JapanTML/japanTML4.htm
Asian Timelines: India China Japan
were first prepared by Cora Agatucci, in 1998.
They are slowly being updated in Winter 2001. Please bear with me.
Other Online HUM 210 Course Resources:
HUM 210 Syllabus Course Plan Assignments Student Writing
Asian Film Asian Links: India China Japan
Cora's Home Page | Site Map | Current Schedule | Cora's Classes
more Student Writing | COCC Links
If you're interested in other world literatures and cultures, visit these course websites:
Hum 211 - Culture and Literature of Africa
Eng 109 - Western World Literatures (late 18th-late 20th centuries)