Patriotic Pedagogy: How Karuta Game Cards Taught a Japanese War Generation

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Author: Michaela Kelly
During the Fifteen Year War, Japan's 'little citizens' were educated via a curriculum centering patriotic and militarist ideologies. Patriotic Pedagogy: How Karuta Game Cards Taught a Japanese War Generation, explores karuta, a poetry card game developed in this period as progressive early childhood pedagogy. As karuta became popular as an educational toy, educators and publishers soon noted karuta's engaging physical play and short slogans and poems made them ideal for conveying patriotic ideals to children.

Including reproductions of the images and translations of the poems, Kelly offers an analysis of the race, class and gender ideologies the cards conveyed, suggesting that these semingly innocuous children's toys were effective tools of a propagandist pedagogy.

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Michaela Kelly, Ph.D. (University of Tokyo 2016), is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the RIJS at Harvard University. A cultural anthropologist, Dr. Kelly is currently preparing an ethnography on women's social networks against the backdrop of falling fertility in contemporary Japan.
For those interested in developments in modern Japanese education, its intersection with modern period militarism and the way toys served both educational and propagandistic purposes.