By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

ISBN-10: 0226619508

ISBN-13: 9780226619507

“We attempted to stay with one hundred twenty percentage depth, instead of watching for demise. We learn and skim, attempting to comprehend why we needed to die in our early twenties. We felt the clock ticking away in the direction of our dying, each sound of the clock shortening our lives.” So wrote Irokawa Daikichi, one of many many kamikaze pilots, or tokkotai, who confronted virtually yes dying within the futile army operations carried out through Japan on the finish of worldwide battle II. 

This relocating historical past provides diaries and correspondence left by means of individuals of the tokkotai and different jap pupil squaddies who perished in the course of the conflict. open air of Japan, those kamikaze pilots have been thought of unbridled fans and chauvinists who willingly sacrificed their lives for the emperor. however the writings explored the following via Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney basically and eloquently communicate differently. an important variety of the kamikaze have been college scholars who have been drafted and compelled to volunteer for this determined army operation. Such younger males have been the highbrow elite of recent Japan: steeped within the classics and significant works of philosophy, they took Descartes’ “I imagine, accordingly I am” as their motto. And of their diaries and correspondence, as Ohnuki-Tierney exhibits, those scholar infantrymen wrote lengthy and infrequently heartbreaking soliloquies within which they poured out their pain and worry, expressed profound ambivalence towards the warfare, and articulated considerate competition to their nation’s imperialism. 

A salutary correction to the various caricatures of the kamikaze, this poignant paintings should be necessary to someone drawn to the historical past of Japan and global warfare II.

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Additional info for Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers

Sample text

The mobilization of the aesthetic of cherry blossoms to encourage sacrifice reached its height with the tokko¯tai operation. A single cherry blossom was painted in pink on a white background on both sides of the tokko¯tai airplane, while various Japanese terms for cherry blossoms were used as the names of the special attack corps. Cherry trees were in full bloom in southern Kyu¯shu¯ in April 1945, and some pilots flew off with branches of blossoms on their helmets and uniforms (see photo 10). Others referred to cherry blossoms in their last poems and letters.

Freshmen found it impossible to understand this work, no matter how many times they reread it. The task was intended to make them realize how ignorant they were and how hard they must study. In the dormitory, the new students were told by their seniors to read the entirety of Iwanami Bunko, a well-known series of world classics in philosophy, literature, history, art, music, and religion (Irokawa 2003, 163). This “pocket book series” was inaugurated in 1927 by Iwanami Shigeo, founder of Iwanami Publishers, after the model of the Reclam Introduction series in Germany, which Iwanami had read with passionate engagement.

In Japan, as in Europe, Romanticism became part of the struggle to overcome modernity. The student pilots embodied the Japanese historical experience since the Meiji period: profoundly influenced by modernity, which initially wore a Western face, they tried to overcome modernity, including the colonialist designs with which the Western powers approached Japan, at one and the same time. Japanese intellectuals’ stance toward modernity was similar, but not entirely parallel, to that of European intellectuals during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney


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