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Publication: Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan: From Edo to Postwar

BLOG_Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan“Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan (Suzuki, Tomi. 2012.Tōkyō: Shin’yōsha.)

This English-Japanese bilingual book illuminates the intersection between censorship systems and an array of artistic expression and media from the Edo period to postwar Japan.  It consists of three sections: print culture, literature, and popular media.

Prange materials were analyzed extensively in several chapters in the Literature section, which compares and contrasts the prewar/wartime Home Ministry’s censorship and the Occupation censorship system.   The Popular Media section also includes a chapter that examines Prange materials.  It explores a number of censored  poems found in Prange Collection magazines.  Poetry is one of the forms of artistic expression that is often overlooked by Occupation censorship scholars, in contrast to other art forms, such as fiction, drama, and film.  The research in this book demonstrates that Prange materials highlight the historical transformation and continuity across Japanese pre-modern and modern censorship history and expand the scope of scholarly focuses on a variety of literary forms  in Occupied Japan.

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Censored Music is the topic of a Master’s Thesis

Nathanial L Gailey-Schiltz, a graduate student in the UMD’s Ethnomusicology program, chose the Prange Collection’s music-related materials as a topic for his Master’s thesis. His thesis can be found  (full text) in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).  Below, Gailey-Schiltz discusses the music materials in the Prange Collection.  

“One part of the Gordon W. Prange Collection that might be easy to overlook is its extensive musical material holdings.  There are close to 15,000 individual items categorized by Prange Collection staff as either music literature or various collections of sheet music or music instructional materials.  It is this collection that I, a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s Ethnomusicology program, decided to explore for my Master’s degree research.  The process has been a challenging and fulfilling one, and has given me a chance to not only embark on some truly unique research, but also to reach outside of the School of Music and make ties with colleagues across campus.

The music materials in the Prange Collection encompass a wide range of subjects and styles.  As a player of the koto (琴, a 13-stringed zither) as part of the University of Maryland’s Koto Ensemble, I was first introduced to the collection’s numerous koto scores.  There are over seventy pieces of koto music by composers such as Miyagi Michio (宮城 道雄), who in the early twentieth century revolutionized koto tradition through innovations in instrument construction and song style.  Apart from notation for the koto, there are pieces for the shakuhachi (尺八, a bamboo flute), scores for nagauta (長唄, the music of kabuki theatre), and folk songs.


One example of Prange holding materials : MT-2682 “Uta no Hanataba “

For my own research, however, I decided to focus on the less traditional materials in the collection.  By the time of the Occupation, Western-style music had been present in Japan in one form or another for the better part of a century.  Starting with military marching band music, European and American music styles like classical art music, Tin Pan Alley, and swing all found play in Japan and influenced Japanese music-makers.

A style of music called ryūkōka (流行歌), later known as kayōkyoku (歌謡曲), and a precursor to today’s karaoke favorite, enka (演歌), formed from around the 1920s.  Its production and popularity were intricately bound up with the emergence of a number of related phenomena that occurred during the same time period: consumer culture, an empowered middle class, the recording industry, and the commodification of music.  It would go on to be bound up with the film industry, so that through the 1930s and ’40s movies, title themes songs, and recordings of those songs became big business.


Ryukoka example: Prange Call Number: MT-2820 “Aishosuru ryukoka uta no hanakago”

There was also a market for sheet music to hit songs, so that consumers could learn their favorite songs and emulate the talents of their favorite film stars.  A collection of publishing houses devoted to music publishing cropped up to cater to that market.  Two main broad categories of publications of ryūkōka were popular by the Occupation era: small (what I call “pocket”) collections of lyrics to hit songs, which may or may not have any music notation; and sheet music for individual songs.  Music notation is predominantly in typical staff notation for voice and piano, reflecting that by that point in history, the piano had become the ubiquitous household musical instrument—just like in Europe and the U.S.—supplanting instruments like the koto.

Example of music note that received a censorship action.  Prange Call Number: MT-2734 "Kayo Gakufu"

Example of music note that received a censorship action. Prange Call Number: MT-2734 “Kayo Gakufu”

The ryūkōka in the Prange Collection reflect Occupation censorship and the negotiation of power between publishers and censors just as newspapers and magazines do.  For example, censors disapproved of published songs that were overly fervent in nationalist sentiment, had a sense of militarism, or espoused Japan’s presence in other nations in Southeast Asia and the South Seas.  The majority of items in the collection did not have actions taken, but still provide a valuable window into the popular discourse of the time.  Popular subjects ranged from melancholy topics (like rain, tears, and departing home) to romance (like love, roses, and “the girl from ___” formula) and the lighthearted (like boogie-woogie, shopping, and the big city).

Again, this is all just in one part of the Prange Collection’s music section.  There is much left to be explored!”

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Hanako Muraoka, Translator of “Anne of Green Gables”

One of the NHK’s current TV programs, “Hanako and Anne” (花子とアン) has been a big success since its start in March 2014.  This program is based on a biography of Hanako Muraoka (1893–1968), who is a celebrated translator of Anne of Green Gables, a bestselling 1908 novel written by a Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Hanako was not only a talented translator but also a prolific writer, which was exemplified by an array of her works held by the Prange Collection.  She wrote a number of children’s books, and seventeen of them, including “Tanpopo no Me (Dandelion’s eyes)” featured in the TV program, are accessible in full text at the Prange Children’s Digital Collection.

In addition, she wrote a wide variety of essays, which reveal her strong belief in women’s social advancement.  For example, in “Ame no naka no Bisho [Smile in rain] (PL-53752),” she emphasized the importance of women’s political involvement by pursuing female suffrage, which was implemented in 1945 in Japan.  In another essay, “Kokoro no Mado kara [From the Window of the Heart] (PL-53755),” she highlighted the significance of equal partnership between husband and wife in order to form a modern democratic family.  Hanako also demonstrated her strong Christian identity in her writing.  As educated by missionary women, she depicted her dedication to Christian faith in one of her novels, “Midori no Shima [Green Island] (PL-53758).”

In addition to her essay writing, Hanako published translation books of “Knight Errant” by a Pulitzer Prize winner, Margaret Widdemer (PZ-9001g), and “Blossomy Cottage” by Montanye Perry (PS-9003g).  A wide array of Hanako’s works uncover her creative talent for writing and help us construct an alternative image of Hanako Muraoka distinct from the ones formed in the TV program.

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How do I request materials via Aeon?

Starting August 1, all researchers using Special Collections and University Archives, the Gordon W. Prange Collection, and Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland will need to create an online account in Aeon to take a tour of the Collection, to request materials for use onsite in the Prange Collection or to place a duplication order.  Below are instructions for requesting Prange Collection materials using Aeon.

A few important facts before starting:

1. The microfilms of the Prange Collection magazines and newspapers are still used on a self-serve basis in McKeldin Library.  You do not need to request them via Aeon.

2. Aeon limits the numbers of materials you can request to 15.  If you would like to request more than 15 items, please contact us after you create an account, so that we can adjust the limit for you.

How Do I Request Materials?

There are multiple search tools for Prange materials, and the method of requesting materials using each search tool differs slightly. Below are some examples of how to request Prange materials.  Please contact us if you have any questions.

1) Requesting from the UMD Libraries Online Catalog (Classic Catalog)              Go to the UMD Libraries Online Catalog (Classic Catalog).  Search for Prange Collection materials using a simple keyword or use the Advanced Search for a more in-depth search.


When you land on an individual item record (see the “Full View of Record” below), click on the “Request from Special Collections” link.


Clicking this link will prompt you to log in to your Aeon account.   Log in to Aeon (or create a new account – see this post for instructions), and the bibliographic information from the UMD Libraries Online Catalog will automatically appear on your New Request Form.  At the bottom of the form, please indicate when you plan to visit the Prange Collection to use the materials (this is a required field) and submit the request.


2) Manual Inputting.  If you wish to request materials using the search tools below, you will need to manually input the information into the Aeon request form.

Go to https://aeon.lib.umd.edu/logon/  and log in to your Aeon account. Click “Request” under “New Request” on the left sidebar on your Aeon account page and fill in the bibliographic information.  Although only the fields with red asterisks are required, please fill in each request as completely as possible so that the Prange staff can best prepare your materials prior to your arrival.   If you have any questions about how to fill out the form, please feel free to contact us.


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How do I create an account in Aeon (the new online material request system)?

Starting August 1, all researchers using Special Collections and University Archives, the Gordon W. Prange Collection, and Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland will need to create an online account in Aeon to take a tour of the Collection, to request materials for use onsite in the Prange Collection or to place a duplication order.  In this post, we will explain how to create an account.

How Do I Create an Account?

1) Go to https://aeon.lib.umd.edu/logon/.   If you are not affiliated with the University of Maryland (UMD), click Guest Login.


2) If this is your first time using Aeon, click the First Time Users link.


3) You are now on the Researcher Registration Page.   PLEASE READ THIS PAGE CAREFULLY, as this page explains the rules and regulations of the  Prange Collection.  Click First Time Users Click Here at the bottom of page.


4) Fill out the New User Registration Form. The fields with red asterisks are required. Please remember your Username and Password.  You will need to log in to Aeon every time you wish to request Prange Collection materials.


In order to best serve you, please create an account prior to your visit to the Prange Collection.  If you are unable to create an account in advance of your arrival, you may create an account onsite in the Prange Collection. Prange staff will be available to assist you.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

In the next post, we will explain how to request Prange Collection materials using Aeon.

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The Prange Collection featured on Academic Preservation Trust website

The University of Maryland is a member of the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), which, according to its website,

“…is committed to the creation and management of a sustainable environment for digital preservation. APTrust’s aggregated preservation repository will solve one of the greatest challenges facing research libraries and their parent institutions – preventing the permanent loss of scholarship and cultural records being produced today.”

The Prange Collection is featured on the APTrust home page.  Scroll down and click “Vast Japanese Collection Saved, University of Maryland.”


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Greetings from the New Curator of the Prange Collection!

BLOG_Tatsumi photoMy name is Yukako Tatsumi, and I am the new Prange Collection Curator.  I came into this position with doctoral research expertise and professional librarianship experience.  My dissertation research investigated the life and work of two Japanese women, who became women’s higher education reformers in early 20th century Japan.  I explored an array of archival materials and discovered the joys and the excitement of working with them.  I was fascinated by the power of primary source materials to contextualize these women’s lives and shape the contours of the time and space in which they lived.  I was also thrilled to weave these documentary contents into previously unknown features of the Japanese prewar educational landscape.  This research experience fostered my aspirations to become a memory institution professional and channeled me into an academic librarianship career at the George Washington University.  I supported GWU’s strong commitment to advancing historical scholarship on Japanese colonialism and gained insights into documents on the Second World War in East Asia, specifically through its research program, “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific.”  I hope to apply my academic specialties and resource knowledge to analysis on the Prange materials and highlight their potential to illuminate the intersection of historical transformation and continuity in Occupied Japan.  I look forward to enhancing research support services and welcoming many scholars from around the world to the Prange Collection, which is a special source of pride for my alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park.


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