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Raising a Child: Then and Now (Part I- Babies’ Growth and Health)

[This is a guest post written by Risa Tanji, a Student Assistant in Special Collections & University Archives, who works primarily in the Prange Collection.]

I started researching for this blog series by comparing the Average Standard Growth chart (see chart 2-1 on p.10) published by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to the chart published in Mitsuo Moriya’s Child Raising Psychology (Prange Call No. 2019-0019). According to this data, babies in the early post-World War II years were much smaller and lighter than babies now, regardless of their gender. Though the birth weights are approximately the same, babies grow much faster now and are significantly heavier than babies in the late 1940s. In terms of height, babies are born larger and continue to grow at a faster rate nowadays, so there is an even larger difference in size.

What remains unchanged over the years, however, may be the anxiety that parents feel for their children’s health and sensitivity to their conditions. Considering the hygienic conditions and medical technology after the war, it is no surprise that there were many mothers who assumed that anything could be a sign of a deadly illness or something that causes one.

Ikuji no joshiki (Prange Call No. 2019-0013) front cover

Dr. Yasumichi Yamamoto states in his book, The Common Sense of Child Rearing (Prange Call No. 2019-0013), that night sweats and a sensitive personality were signs of diseases.  Today, babies’ night sweats are considered indications of a good metabolism and linking personalities with physical illnesses is rather uncommon. Drooling was also considered a sign of mental deficiency.  Recent research shows that drooling by infants has benefits for their immune system (Saitama Maternity Hospital, 2009).

Dr. Yamamoto claims that autotoxemia, which was uncommon during wartime, became more prevalent after the war because children were exposed to a wider variety of foods, as opposed to a limited number of foods during the war (often anything that could be scavenged).

Ikuji no joshiki (Prange Call No. 2019-0013) pp.182-183

Growing up in the city was another reason for concern in the early post-war period. It was feared that it would make children overweight, because they did not have to do physical work to obtain food.  It was also thought to worsen symptoms of catarrhal diathesis, and, ultimately, those children would grow to have a weak constitution. It is still the general consensus that living in the countryside is better for one’s health, but this does not mean that living in the city would be considered a sole cause of illnesses. 

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Raising a Child: Then and Now (Introduction)

[This is a guest post written by Risa Tanji, a Student Assistant in Special Collections & University Archives, who works primarily in the Prange Collection.]

In spite of the devastating situation they found themselves in after the Second World War, the Japanese people at the time were eager to deliver and raise healthy babies while the country was undergoing reconstruction. As I read several articles from the post-war period regarding childbearing and raising, I was intrigued by the information scholars back then insisted on and how different it is from our common knowledge today.

Using Yasumichi Yamamoto’s book, The Common Sense of Child Rearing/育児の常識‘(Prange Call No. 2019-0013), as my basis, I will compare and contrast the differences between the information presented in these articles and present-day common practices in a series of five blog posts.

Below is the overview of the blog series:

  1. Babies’ Growth and Health
  2. Breast Milk vs. Infant Formula
  3. Mothers’ Health
  4. Snacks and Weaning Foods
  5. Raising a “Good” Baby
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On this day in 1948… (July 20) – National Holidays Law enacted

71 years ago today on July 20, 1948, the National Holidays Law/国民の祝日に関する法律 took effect.  The law established several new Japanese national holidays, including Culture Day (November 3) and Labor Thanksgiving Day (November 23).

An article entitled, “New National Holidays/新しい祝日,” was published in the January 1949 issue of the magazine “Horitsu no hiroba/法律のひろば” (Prange Call No. H768).  The author explains which national holidays were abolished and/or renamed and provides his legal interpretation of each change.  He concludes by praising the law and its positive implications for the war-weary Japanese people, saying:

“要するに憲法記念日を置き、文化の日や勤労感謝の日を設け、成人の日やこどもの日までも祝日と定めたこの法律が、終戦後ともすれば萎靡沈滞しがちな同胞諸君に対して、祖國再建のために伸びゆく喜びと祝いを與え、明朗闊達な気分を喚起するよすがともなれば、まことに幸せであると言わなければならない。”

Meanwhile, an article published in the magazine Buddhist Thought/佛敎思潮 (8/1/1948) (Prange Call No. B215) points out that there are no new holidays which relate in any significant way to religions.  It says that some advocated to include Christmas as “International Goodwill Day,” while others demanded including Hanamatsuri/花まつり (the Buddha’s Birthday, April 8).  In the end, the government determined that religious holidays were “inappropriate” as national holidays.

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5 Facts You Should Know about Gordon W. Prange

Happy Birthday, Professor Prange!

Did you know that Gordon Prange:

  1.  Was born in Pomeroy, Iowa on July 16, 1910?
  2.  Was General Douglas MacArthur’s Chief Historian during the Occupation of Japan and was primarily responsible for writing the history of the War in the Pacific?
  3.  Wrote, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which was later made into a movie?
  4.  Was a professor of history from 1937 – 1980 at the University of Maryland, with the exception of a leave of absence during World War II and the Occupation of Japan?
  5.  Was a charismatic professor who inspired students with his theatrics in the classroom?  The portion of one of his lectures from 1976 (History 498E class) is available here.

If you’d like to learn more about Gordon Prange, check out the guide to Gordon Prange’s personal papers.

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Featured Exhibit Item of the Month [July]

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland through July 2019.  Each month, we will feature one or two items from the exhibit.  For other Featured Exhibit Items of the Month, please visit here

Our tenth and last Featured Exhibit Item of the Month is the book, “Bokura no Yakyu” [Our Baseball], published in July 1948.

Baseball, emblematic of an American way of life, was used by the Japanese government (with the support of GHQ/SCAP) to convey democratic ideals to young men and boys. This book for young boys included the following: what it means to play baseball fairly; the American Major League — its structure, history, scouting, and trading; baseball in other countries; Japanese baseball — its history, an overview of professional baseball and collegiate baseball; the science of baseball (e.g. the speed of a pitch, batting, and running); short biographies of famous baseball players, including Joe DeMaggio and Hiroshi Ōshita; and the rules of baseball for children.

This book has been digitized. In addition to being available in the University of Maryland Digital Collections (full-text is only available on the University of Maryland, College Park campus), it is also available onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan (NDL) through NDL’s Digital Collection.

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On this day in 1936… (June 30) – Gone with the Wind was Published

On June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell published the novel, Gone with the Wind (Japanese title – Kaze to tomo ni sarinu/風と共に去りぬ).  It was an immediate bestseller, and a movie by the same name was released in December 1939.  The Prange Collection holds several magazine articles about the novel and the movie.  Below are two examples.

An article entitled, “Mitchell: Gone with the Wind,” was published in the magazine Things American/アメリカ百科 in October 1946 (Prange Call No. A224).

The author of the article, Jiro Tomita/富田二郎, praises Mitchell as “one of the youngest yet the most successful in recent years to depict American frontier spirit.”  After Tomita summarizes the story, he concludes that the world awaits Mitchell’s next novel.

The September and December 1947 issues of the magazine, “Nii tsubaki/新椿,” (Prange Call No. N461) included several pages of colored illustrations depicting scenes from the movie with scene descriptions.

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Featured Exhibit Item of the Month [June]

The Prange Collection exhibit, “Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” will be on display in the Maryland Room Gallery, Hornbake Library North, University of Maryland, through July 2019.  Each month, we will feature one or two items from the exhibit.  For other Featured Exhibit Items of the Month, please visit here

Our ninth Featured Exhibit Item of the Month is the article, “Q&A with Dancers,published in the August 1947 issue of the magazine Dansu [Dance] (Vol 1., Issue 2 – Prange Call No. D115). In this Q&A session, dancers were asked why they had become dancers, what kind of customers they liked and disliked, what they enjoyed most about dancing, and what was most distasteful to them.

In almost every case, the dancer felt compelled to dance to make a living. One women wanted to help her sister pursue higher education beyond grade school. One woman said that she and her family had lived through the firebombing three times and could no longer continue the family business; she was forced to support the entire family. One dancer said that she danced half for money and half because of her passion for dancing.

You can read other magazine articles related to dance halls in our online exhibit.