By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
Why did virtually 1000 hugely trained "student squaddies" volunteer to serve in Japan's tokkotai (kamikaze) operations close to the tip of worldwide conflict II, even supposing Japan was once wasting the conflict? during this attention-grabbing research of the position of symbolism and aesthetics in totalitarian ideology, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney indicates how the country manipulated the established eastern image of the cherry blossom to persuade people who it used to be their honor to "die like attractive falling cherry petals" for the emperor. Drawing on diaries by no means ahead of released in English, Ohnuki-Tierney describes those younger men's agonies or even defiance opposed to the imperial ideology. Passionately dedicated to cosmopolitan highbrow traditions, the pilots observed the cherry blossom no longer in militaristic phrases, yet as an emblem of the painful attractiveness and unresolved ambiguities in their tragically short lives. utilizing Japan for instance, the writer breaks new flooring within the figuring out of symbolic communique, nationalism, and totalitarian ideologies and their execution.
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Additional resources for Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History
In ancient Japan production and reproduction were seen as equivalent and both were conceptualized in terms of souls. The term musu meant simultaneously encapsulation of a soul in a knot and both production and reproduction. The act of making a knot (musubi) with a string, twig, or piece of grass, as described in the Manyo¯shu¯ poems and other literature of the time, was a ritual act to encapsulate a soul in the knot. In addition, the term musubi meant reproduction and production: musu meant reproduction and bi (ϭ hi) meant production or growth by means of the sun (Matsumae 1977: 96 –97; Orikuchi  1976).
While the intellectual level of the pilots selected seems surprising, they were not exceptional among the intellectual elites of the time. Other books on the writings of student soldiers testify that many of the books read by the pilots appear in the writings of other student soldiers. However, the tokko¯tai pilots also included enlisted men, many of whom did not go to higher schools or universities. They are not represented in this book, primarily because of the unavailability of their writings; only fragments pulled out of context have been published.
Social science literature often continues to give too much power to one side– either to institutions and “structure,” or the subversive power of the oppressed. Historical causality and historical agency are far more complex. Let me here conﬁne myself to three major points in reference to historical agency. First, rarely are individuals, be they oppressors or the oppressed, unaffected by the historical climate in which they live, whether one views the climate as an intellectual toolkit, as it were, of Lucien Febvre’s l’histoire des mentalités, or a more unconscious “habitus,” used by many, including Marcel Mauss, Erwin Panofsky, and Pierre Bourdieu.