Reexamining the Postwar
Until now I have led collaborative research projects on such topics as “Rethinking Postwar Japanese Culture,” “Artists in the Mass Media,” “Social Movements and Cultural Production in Japan during the East Asian Cold-War,” and “The Scars of Post-war Japan.”
With the exception of “Artists in the Mass Media,” all are projects related to the culture and movements of the period we call “postwar.” My specialty was originally modern Japanese literature, and my starting point was the study of modern poetry. My first single-authored book was on Hagiwara Sakutarō. Partly because Hagiwara was most active in Taishō Japan, I am still drawn to Taishō more than to any other period.
When recently I was commissioned by the Arishima Takeo Society to speak and write about Arishima’s reception of Whitman and Carpenter, I was reminded of the joys of reflecting on this period. However, on taking up my post at Nichibunken, I made a conscious effort to target my research at the postwar.
Moreover, I have sought not to confine my work to the field of postwar literature. Rather, I have aimed to construct a space for more “comprehensive” discussion, or at least a space where all disciplines can interrelate. If we allow that the Taishō period—the fashion now is to speak rather of an “interwar” period—opened up a quasi-idyllic experiential space within Japanese culture, the postwar is, for me, a much rawer space, accompanied by raw pain and pleasure.
It is clear that a powerful inner desire directed me—as I entered life’s last quarter—toward this series of research projects. The members of our research group have all participated with a powerful sense of motivation. This is no doubt because they have superimposed their own distinct “personal time,” as I have too, on to their individual projects. Our final project “The Scars of Post-war Japan” will be completed with an international symposium in February 2022, and Rinsen Shoten will soon publish the collected papers as the fruition of the project. I am confident you will not be disappointed!