1. You need to obtain an understanding of the film “No Regrets for Our Youth” directed by Akira Kuro

  

1. You need to obtain an understanding of the film “No Regrets for Our Youth” directed by Akira Kurosawa.2. You need to understand the main idea of attachment article (Bodies of Memory) 3. You need to write TWO complete paragraphs to answer the question posted in yellow background. (see attachment — question)4. You need to write a ONE paragraph reflection regarding the opinion in red box. (see attachment — reflection)5. You need to ask a deep question regarding the film and the article. (It’s better to explain why you want to ask this question)* Note: I want complete paragraphs, but NOT in essay format.
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Princeton University Press
Chapter Title: Introduction
Book Title: Bodies of Memory
Book Subtitle: Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture, 1945-1970
Book Author(s): Yoshikuni Igarashi
Published by: Princeton University Press. (2000)
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s2kh.4
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Introduction
Remembering is never a quiet act of introspection
or retrospection. It is a painful remembering, a
putting together of the dismembered past to
make sense of the trauma of the present.
Homi K. Bhabha, “Interrogating Identity”
THE IMAGE reproduced on this book’s cover and as figure 1 was painted
by the artist Ōgai Yatarō. Ōgai completed this painting of a young Japanese pilot in 1944 and died two years later from tuberculosis.1 Ōgai’s
works have been forgotten by postwar Japanese society. Never publicly
displayed, this piece deteriorated while stored by his bereaved family for
more than a half-century. In 1997, however, Ōgai’s painting was restored
and brought before the public for the first time at Mugonkan, a museum
dedicated to young aspiring artists who died either during the Asia Pacific
War or shortly after.2 The image of the young pilot is one of the first sights
a visitor to Mugonkan encounters; framed by a spotlight, the pilot quietly
gazes into the museum’s dark space.
Even after being restored, the painting shows the wear of more than
fifty years. The paint has cracked into minute fragments, and almost half
of the painting is lost. The cardboard paper that Ōgai used as a canvas
peaks through large cracks in the paint. The bottom portion of the pilot’s
face is obliterated, and his left arm is barely visible. The pilot’s uniform
appears threadbare, and his once proud expression is reduced to an empty
gaze. The fifty-some years of postwar history have scarred the surface of
this painting, which stands on the brink of total disappearance. Yet the
pilot and the artist insist upon their existence through the remaining fragments of paint. It is this tension between the process of the image’s disappearance and its insistence on its presence that gives the painting a powerful appeal.
Like the image of the pilot, postwar Japan’s relation to its past is filled
with tension. This book is an attempt to read the absent presence of the
country’s war memories. Its goal is not to reconstruct an original image
of past events but to examine how the past is signified and forgotten
through the mediation of history. Japanese society rendered its traumatic
experiences of the war comprehensible through narrative devices that
downplayed their disruptive effects on Japan’s history. These narratives,
however, made it more difficult to discuss the impact of experiences of
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Figure 1. Portrait of a young Japanese pilot by Ōgai Yatarō, 1944. Courtesy of
Ōgai Haruko.
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INTRODUCTION
5
war. Rather than dismiss these narrative strategies as mere obstacles to
historical inquiry, the book reads them along with particular counternarratives that attempted to register the original impact of the war. It is
through examining the tension between the repression and expression of
the trauma of the war that I contemplate the impact of the war and Japan’s defeat on postwar society. In order to provide a critical perspective
on present discussions of the war’s legacy, this study focuses on how memories of the war were transformed in the first twenty-five years of the
postwar period. Just as its scars from the past half-century are integral to
the present meaning of Ōgai’s painting, so too are the fading traces of
war trauma to postwar Japanese history.
In its effort to examine the specific example of postwar Japan, this book
also participates in the larger scholarly discussion of memory, which has
gained momentum since the early 1980s.3 Humanists and social scientists
have deployed the concept of memory as part of their continuing efforts
to expand the horizons of history. Memory connotes what is personal and
emotional in an individual’s relation to the past—the elements that often
disrupt the common narratives of history. However, memory does not
exist outside of the boundaries of history. Socially constructed historical
narratives often define the shape of individual memories. This book is not
a celebration of memory: it does not attempt to liberate memory from
hegemonic historical narratives, but problematizes the concept of history
by claiming memory as an integral part of historical production. By revealing cultural desires and anxieties—elements that have been traditionally attributed to memory—this study aspires to conceive of ways in
which to intervene in the process of historical construction.
The title of this book, Bodies of Memory, signifies how Japan after
the war remembered the past: its memories were discursively constructed
through bodily tropes. Postwar Japan inherited this discursive practice
from the wartime regulatory regime that aspired to create a healthy national body (kokutai). Furthermore, in the immediate aftermath of the
war, many Japanese discovered their bodies as the entities that survived
destruction and thus embodied historical continuity. Their bodies became
sites for national rehabilitation, thus overcoming the historical crisis that
Japan’s defeat created. The title also calls the reader’s attention to the
materiality of memory: the production of both bodily tropes and memories was deeply embedded in the material conditions of postwar Japan.
Just as Ōgai’s painting’s physical condition—its scarred surface—is essential to the past it invokes, the material conditions in which Japanese bodies existed deeply affected wartime memories in postwar society. Hence,
the project of this book is to examine both the discursive and the material
conditions of postwar Japan for its memory and historical production.
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6
INTRODUCTION
The Voiceless Museum
Ōgai’s painting serves as a useful site to explore postwar Japan’s struggle
with its own past. In order to consider the ghastly presence of the past in
his painting, I need to discuss at length the museum that houses it. Named
Mugonkan (Voiceless Museum) by its owner, Kuboshima Sei’ichirō, this
small, private art museum opened at Ueda, Nagano, in May 1997. Mugonkan’s austere thirty-one-hundred-square-foot building houses an unconventional collection that includes the works of young artists who died
during or shortly after the Asia Pacific War. The paintings of the young
artists line the walls, and personal effects left by the deceased—letters,
diaries, and other art objects—are displayed in glass cases. Most of the
works in the museum have never appeared in public; the majority of them
had been stored by the artists’ families. After numerous trips to those
families over a period of two and a half years, Kuboshima managed to
acquire the collection and bring it before the public.
Kuboshima’s museum is an imaginative response to the desperate need
to deal with memories of the war. Kuboshima seeks to demonstrate
throughout the Mugonkan collection the contradictory nature of the past:
its simultaneous presence and absence. “Re-membering”—an effort “to
make sense of the trauma of the present” in Homi Bhabha’s definition—
requires a recognition of loss. Like Ōgai’s painting, the reassembled fragments of the past inevitably reveal cracks and missing pieces; and the
cracks and absent pieces are central to understandings of the past. “To
make sense of the trauma of the present,” one must comprehend how
traumatic loss in the past defines one’s present. Japanese society successfully mitigated the devastating loss it suffered in the war; yet memories
of loss were fundamental to the postwar construction of Japan’s cultural
identity. Against postwar practices that rendered the absence invisible,
Mugonkan strives to re-present the losses of war within Japanese society.
In the present volume, I try to articulate the centrality of loss in remembering the past by tracing various attempts to reconstruct the past in the
cultural discourses of postwar Japan.
In his “Mugonkan” e no tabi (The journey to Mugonkan), Kuboshima
offers the history of the museum from its inception to its opening, along
with his own thoughts on what motivated him to carry out this project.4
Kuboshima maintains that his meeting with the artist Nomiyama Gyōji
was instrumental in the materialization of his museum. Nomiyama was
recruited into the army immediately after he graduated from the Tokyo
College of Arts (Tokyo Bijutsu gakkō, the predecessor of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) in 1942. Although he was sent
to the Manchurian front, he was eventually discharged from the army
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INTRODUCTION
7
due to illness. However, many graduates of the Tokyo College of Arts
were not as fortunate as Nomiyama and did not live to witness the postwar period. In 1977, with two collaborators, Nomiyama traveled
throughout Japan to visit the families of schoolmates who died in the war
and published their works posthumously in the book Inori no gashÖ.5
Although Kuboshima saw this collection when it came out, he did not
pay much attention to it. Indeed, he resisted a connection between the
war and the aesthetic qualities of art; the collection receded from his consciousness over the next few years. It took the next nineteen years and a
personal discussion with Nomiyama for him to realize the value of Nomiyama’s project.
When Kuboshima met Nomiyama in 1994, Nomiyama discussed his
desire to create a museum for the artworks to which he paid homage in
1977. This museum would not attempt to reify the aesthetic quality of
the collection—Nomiyama himself recognized the immaturity of these
works—but would instead bring them together in order to let them collectively express the artists’ desire to live and paint. Although the individual
works were somewhat clumsy, they nonetheless illustrated both the artists’ pleasure in producing art and their desire to keep painting. When
displayed together, Nomiyama explained, these pieces could work much
like orchestral music to produce a larger effect on those who see them. The
museum that he envisioned is a site where individual works are displayed
together to create a solemn music. Nomiyama’s vision moved Kuboshima
to action; they began visiting the families of the artists, and Kuboshima
continued to visit the artists’ relatives on his own even after Nomiyama
withdrew from the project. After struggling for three years to raise money,
Kuboshima finally managed to create the museum.
Halfway through the project, Nomiyama stopped accompanying Kuboshima but did not explain the reasons for this decision. Kuboshima
could only speculate how Nomiyama felt in visiting the bereaved families
for the second time in twenty years. When Nomiyama first visited the
artists’ relatives in 1977, the parents of the deceased artists were still alive.
The memories of the war and the artists’ lives remained with their parents;
Nomiyama’s visits reawakened the memories buried within their daily
lives. Kuboshima remembers one such episode in Inori no gashÖ. When
Nomiyama was about to leave a family’s house, a mother touched his
shoulder and quietly muttered: “You are young. . . . If my son were alive,
he would have been exactly the same age as you are.”6 By facing the
parents of the deceased, Nomiyama burdened himself with an unanswerable question: why had he survived the war when they had not? He was
guilty both of surviving the war and of leaving his schoolmates behind.
Yet, within the emotionally charged meetings with his schoolmates’ parents and his own feelings of guilt, Nomiyama found a path that led him
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8
INTRODUCTION
back to the past. For Nomiyama, the project recovered his ties to the war
dead, however temporarily, and enabled him to act as one of them. By
the mid-1990s, however, even that narrow path had disappeared. The
artists’ parents were all dead, and their siblings did not meet Nomiyama
with the same emotional intensity. When he realized that he could not
reproduce the effects of his 1977 visits, he asked Kuboshima to visit the
families by himself.7
Nomiyama, however, did continue to help raise money for the project
by soliciting donations; his vision and assistance were crucial to the materialization of the museum. Yet the museum belongs to Kuboshima not
only because he personally shouldered the financial responsibility—from
the construction costs to the operating expenses—but also because the
museum directly reflects Kuboshima’s own efforts to confront his war
memories. The fact that he named the museum Mugonkan signals a departure from Nomiyama’s original desire to recover the past. The murmurs of the young artists may collectively create a grand music; yet that
music remains inaudible to Kuboshima and to those who visit the museum. For Kuboshima, a simple recovery of the voices of the deceased is
an impossible project, and Mugonkan stands as an enigmatic place where
visitors listen to silence.
When Nomiyama decided to entrust the project to Kuboshima, Kuboshima was relieved that he would no longer have to pretend he belonged
to Nomiyama’s generation. Kuboshima expressed his discomfort at being
without firsthand war experiences. Born in 1941, his memories of wartime Japan were fragmentary. In the early stage of visiting the bereaved
families with Nomiyama, Kuboshima was acutely aware of his outsider
status. While Nomiyama and the families immediately struck up conversations about their commonly shared war experiences, Kuboshima felt as
if he were an impostor who should not be there at all. For Kuboshima,
the project began with his somber realization that it was impossible for
him to have privileged access to the experiences of the deceased: he would
be an eternal outsider to his own project.
When he faced the bereaved families without Nomiyama’s mediation,
Kuboshima needed to signify the project in his own terms. Nomiyama’s
absence relieved Kuboshima from a search for authentic experiences; instead, his reflections on the project led him to the shadow of the war in
his own life. Although he was not privy to the war experiences of the
artist-soldiers, his life in the postwar years had been deeply affected by
the Asia Pacific War. Yet Kuboshima had been reluctant to recognize the
effects of the war on himself until he became involved in the project. In
collecting the works of the artist-soldiers, for the first time Kuboshima
began contemplating what he had long turned away from—the loss he
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INTRODUCTION
9
suffered in the war. This was also the beginning of his struggle to make
sense of his life in the postwar period.
Kuboshima painfully realized how deeply the war affected his personal
life. Before they lost everything in the war, his foster parents used to lead
a modest life running a shoe repair shop in Tokyo. Their shop was destroyed by the American air raids in April 1945, and they never recovered
from the damage. Returning home from Sendai, the city where they took
refuge, the family found their neighborhood leveled; there was nothing
but dirt and debris in the area where their house used to stand. On a hot
summer day among the ruins, Kuboshima began the postwar period. In
the immediate postwar years, Kuboshima’s family lived in a tiny shack
of three tatami mats (about fifty-five square feet), and his foster parents
struggled for the family’s survival. As Kuboshima became conscious of
the state of his family, he began to resent his foster parents for their inability to take him out of extreme poverty. Kuboshima remembers the deep
shame he felt when he saw them, covered with leather scraps, fixing college students’ shoes.
Kuboshima knew he was adopted, and his resentment toward his foster
parents increased when they refused to reveal the identity of his biological
parents. He desired to escape his parents’ condition by becoming rich. He
dropped out of high school and pursued material wealth. After attaining
the comfort of middle-class life, he even symbolically divorced himself
from his foster parents by locating his biological parents himself. To his
surprise, Kuboshima discovered that the writer Minakami Tsutomu was
his biological father, and his reunion with the esteemed author in August
1977 attracted wide media attention. Father and son quickly established
close ties. However, his relations with his foster parents deteriorated as
quickly as his affection for his father increased. At one point, Kuboshima
and his foster parents ceased talking to each other, even though they continued to live together.
Kuboshima’s postwar peregrination resembles the path that the larger
society followed—from destruction to economic prosperity. Kuboshima
and postwar Japan opted not to face the memories of their war loss and
instead attempted to displace it with material wealth. Once Kuboshima
attained modest economic success in the 1970s, however, he was not satisfied with what he attained. Even then, Kuboshima’s life reflected larger
social conditions. Just as Japanese society finally reached a point where
it could afford cultural consumption, Kuboshima began collecting paintings to find spiritual satisfaction to relieve him from his mind-numbing
days of moneymaking. However, he soon grew so engulfed by the excitement of art collecting that he decided to make it his living: he closed his
successful business and taught himself to be an art dealer. His affection
for his art collection, however, escalated to the point where he eventually
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10
INTRODUCTION
opened his own private art museum in the early 1980s. Kuboshima’s decision to create his own museum rather than to trade art marks his move
toward distancing himself from postwar society and toward reflecting on
his postwar life.
The journey to collect art for his new museum became his process of
self-reflection on his own postwar life. Kuboshima argues that the artworks of Mugonkan are messages from fifty years ago; the museum signifies his attempt to assemble the dismembered past to the present audience.
Almost fifty years after the defeat of Japan, Kuboshima began the process
of understanding the effects of the war on his postwar life. Bringing together the dismembered bodies of artworks, Kuboshima began hi …
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