Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History

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Date: Winter 2003
From: Pacific Affairs(Vol. 76, Issue 4)
Publisher: The University of British Columbia - Pacific Affairs
Document Type: Book review
Length: 645 words

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KAMIKAZE, CHERRY BLOSSOMS, AND NATIONALISMS: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History. By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney. Chicago (Illinois), London: The University of Chicago Press. 2002. xvii, 411 pp. (B & W photos, illus.) US$45.00/[pounds sterling]31.50, cloth, ISBN 0-226-62090-5; US$20.00/[pounds sterling]14.00, paper, ISBN 0-226-62091-3.

Students of war and of modern Japan will welcome this first rigorous scholarly analysis in English of the writings of World War II "kamikaze" pilots. Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tackles the most fundamental question posed by Japan's "Special Attack Force" (tokkotai): Does it, as popular Western imagination would have it, prove Japanese exceptionalism? Her answer is an emphatic no: "None died for the emperor" (p. 299). Rather, all five pilots whose published diaries the author studies display the healthy skepticism and self-doubt that would plague any intelligent young man in a time of national crisis.

Ohnuki-Tierney offers a fascinating glimpse at the symbolic importance of cherry blossoms in the nationalism of Imperial Japan....

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A139751934