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A Talk by W. Evan Young: Health & Home in Occupation-Era Japan

Dr. W. Evan Young, a Professor at Dickinson College and recipient of a 20th Century Japan Research Award, will give a talk on “Health and Home in Occupation-Era Japan: Promoting Medical Knowledge in Popular Women’s Magazines” on Thursday, October 4, 2018, 12:30-1:30pm in 2120 Francis Scott Key Hall, University of Maryland.

The event is free and open to the public. This event is co-sponsored by the University of Maryland Libraries and the Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies. Lunch will be served. Please RSVP to 301-405-4299 or  millercenter@umd.edu to reserve your lunch.

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Blog post series

Check out our blog post series!

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An Interview with William Kenneth Bunce from the Marlene J. Mayo Oral Histories

This post is the eighth in a series featuring interviews from the Marlene J. Mayo Oral Histories.  Currently, 29 of the oral history transcripts are available online.  The remainder are available onsite in the Prange Collection.  For other featured oral histories, see this page

Today, August 31, is William Kenneth Bunce‘s birthday!

William Kenneth Bunce (August 31,1907 – July 23, 2008) was interviewed by Marlene Mayo, then Professor of History at the University of Maryland, on March 18, 1980. He was the individual primarily responsible for the formulation of the Shinto Directive, which was issued by the Japanese government in December 1945. According to Bunce, his experience teaching in a Japanese high school from 1936 to 1939 informed his work as Chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division during the Occupation. He saw first-hand how, “…Japanese emperor worship was inculcated into students in the Japanese education system and the degree of reverence extended to the Emperor and to all things pertaining to the Emperor, most notably the Imperial Rescript on Education and the Emperor’s portrait, formed a reasonably good background for my approach to these problems when I served in the Occupation.” (p.3 of the transcript)

Bunce was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Navy in 1943 and for nine months studied at the Navy School of Military Government at Columbia University. He arrived in Japan in mid-September 1945 and was assigned to the Civil Information and Education Section/Education, Religion, and Arts & Monuments Division. His work involved demilitarizing Japan’s cultural, religious, social, and academic institutions.  After the Occupation, Bunce worked in the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.  When he returned to the U.S., he continued to work in government until he retired in 1971.

The transcript of the interview with Bunce is available here.

The National Diet Library of Japan (NDL) has a copy of the W. Kenneth Bunce Papers on microfiche.  The collection was obtained from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.

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Interview with Emily Cole, Research Award Recipient 2018

Each year, the recipients of the 20th Century Japan Research Awards visit the University of Maryland to use the materials in the Gordon W. Prange Collection.  They often spend a week or more on campus.  They are interviewed at the end of their stay about their research experience.

Emily Cole in the Maryland Room

One of the two recipients of the award for 2017-2018 is Emily Cole, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon.  Her research topic is “Life in the Ruins: Photography during the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952.”  She is currently working on her dissertation.


How did you learn about the research award, and why did you apply for it?

I first learned about the award through the HNET listserv. I have wanted to visit the Prange Collection since my first year of graduate school when I started researching Occupation-era Japanese photography, so I was excited to apply for the award once I finished my comprehensive exams.

What motivated you to focus on this research topic?

I stumbled into the world of postwar Japanese photography when I came across some images by photojournalist Domon Ken, taken during the Occupation period. I am visually oriented, and his photos really brought home to me the kasutori (“days in the dregs”) nature of occupied society.

My master’s thesis covered 1945 to 1970. I decided to focus solely on the Occupation period simply because it is virtually ignored in scholarship on postwar photography. Studies generally begin in 1950, when Domon began his realism movement. And yet, the five years preceding that are such a critical time, especially in understanding the Occupation’s impact on Japanese visual culture and Japanese cultural identity.

Which material in the Prange Collection left the biggest impression on you?

What really struck me in looking through not only photography magazines, but other periodicals such as weekly news periodicals and kasutori magazines, was the plethora of photographs of women. Many of the articles in the photography magazines were on how to photograph “beautiful women,” and the vast majority of the covers for titles such as Asahi Graph and Mainichi Graph featured women, even if the women on the cover had nothing to do with the contents of the magazine.

Before visiting the Prange collection, I had intended to focus my dissertation around urban street photography. However, given the lack of street photos, and considering the sheer number of photographs of women, I think I might have to reframe my study! Clearly, photographing women was a major trend in photography during this time. Considering most photographers were men, it makes me question what this dynamic says about Japanese identity more broadly, as well as gender identity.

How would you describe the research experience at the University of Maryland Libraries? Do you have any suggestions for fellow researchers using the collection?

I had an excellent experience at the University of Maryland. I am especially grateful to Kana, Yukako, and Amy for all the help they provided during my stay. The library staff were very friendly as well, and remained calm each time I sent a rather lengthy request for more documents.

I found it helpful to submit a few requests for materials before I arrived at the collection, to use my short time here more efficiently. I also found it helpful to continue to refer to the collection holdings, found on the Prange Collection website, throughout my stay.

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Exhibition Commemorating the 70-year History of the National Diet Library of Japan

The National Diet Library of Japan (NDL) is commemorating it’s 70-year history with an exhibition entitled, A Treasure Box of Books: the 70-year History of the National Diet Library and Its Collections.  Some materials from the Occupation period will be on display, including several books related to the Constitution of Japan and color photographs depicting life in Occupied Japan.

The exhibition will be on display October 18 through November 24 at the Library’s main building in Tokyo and from November 30 through December 22 at the Kansai-kan in Kyoto.


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Mountain Day (August 11)

Today, August 11, is Mountain Day/山の日 in Japan.

Like the Independence Day poster that we featured on July 4, this poster was created by the S.N.D. Agency and published by Nihon Kenkyusha/日本研究社 in July 1949.  It is an illustrated guide to “Summer on the Mountain.”  It shows the flora and fauna that exist at different elevations; it gives instructions on how to set up a tent; and shows the proper equipment and clothing for hiking and rock climbing.

This poster has been digitized and is available in the Prange Collection. Please contact us if you would like to see it.

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Nagasaki Niti Niti article on August 9, 1948

This article, “One Flower found in the Atomic City —  On the Third Anniversary of the Dropping of the Atomic Bomb” (アトム街に花一輪 – あす原爆3周年), was published in Nagasaki Niti Niti/長崎日日 newspaper on August 8, 1948.

The photo of girls picking flowers was taken near ground zero. The article recalls a peaceful time when these girls sat on this hill and sang together.  According to the article, those days are long gone.