Perspectives on Social Memory in Japan

This collection of essays represents the first interdisciplinary study in English to consider social memory in Japan across a wide range of issues and phenomena. Unlike previous studies which have focused on isolated issues, especially Second World War events, this volume examines in depth a variety of memorialization subjects, including music and poetry, artefacts and tools, oral testimonies and written documents, stones and performances, rivers and earthquakes, ritual and ceremonies as well as art and artists. In addition to valuable insights into the social and cultural life of the Japanese, its contextualized analysis and rich narrative provide a basis for the comparative study of collective memory-making. The chapters are thematically grouped as ‘Remembering the Dead’, ‘Art of Memory’ and ‘Nature Remembered’.


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Biographical Note

Tsu Yun Hui teaches Japanese history and culture in the Department of Japanese Studies, the National University of Singapore. He is interested in the Chinese in Japan, Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, Japan’s “southward expansion” and the environment in modern Japan.
Jan van Bremen worked in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam before joining the Center for Japanese and Korean Studies in Leiden University in 1987. His specializations are anthropology, folklore studies, intellectual history, religion and society in Japan.
Eyal Ben-Ari is a member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His many interests include Japanese culture and society, early childhood education in Japan, social and cultural aspects of the military, the anthropology of organizations and the sociology of anthropology.

Table of contents

Preface; 1. Memory, Scholarship and the Study of Japan; Part 1: Remembering the Dead; 2. Monuments for the Untimely Dead or the Objectification of Social Memory in Japan; 3. Memorial Monuments of Interrupted Lives in Modern Japan: From Ex Post Facto Treatment to Intensification Devices; 4. Memorializing and Remembering Animals in Japan; 5. Coincident Events of Remembrance, Coexisting Spaces of Memory: The Annual Memorial Rites at Yasukuni Shrine; Part 2: Art of Memory; 6. Summer Grasses: Memory and the Construction of Landscape in Oku no Hosomichi; 7. What it Sounds Like to Lose an Empire: Happy End and the Kinks; 8. The Meiji Restoration and the Revival of Ancient Culture; 9. Japan’s Living National Treasures Program: the Paradox of Remembering; Part 3: Remembering Nature; 10. Remembering the Wolf: The Wolf Reintroduction Campaign in Japan; 11. Preserving the Memories of Terror: Ko¯be Earthquake Survivors as ‘Memory Volunteers’; 12. The Violent and the Benign: How Kobe Remembers its Rivers; Part 4: Conclusion; 13. Social Memory and Commemoration: Some ‘After the Fact’ Thoughts; Index


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