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(後の) (go no)



An island nation once called ‘Yamato’, nowadays carries the name of ‘Nippon’, better known as Japan. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is an island known all over the world for many contributions. The Japanese culture might be one of the hardest to get, but there is something everyone understands: Japan is a nation with a structure built so carefully that leads to impressive results. The strong and powerful Japan, the nation that stands out in technology, art, literature, politics and countless other subjects. Japan might be catalogued as strong, but there is also one label which suits Japanese cultre in every sense: perfection. The sense of perfection aspired to be achieved by the japanese people is one of the things that makes them stand out so much. To occidental countries, maybe even in any other excluding the one in case, this characteristic makes us hold specific expectations out of Japanese people: we do expect them to be perfect. Through out all of Japan’s history, we’ve been able to recognize this characteristic to be tested by nature’s force and humans. In spite of their need of perfection and the sum of all their skills, Japan is constantly falling apart and being put back together. ‘After’ explores Japan’s reaction to catastrophes through their own particular sense of self-expresion, and mostly, by literature, specially one of history’s biggest catastrophe, the atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the first on August 6, 1945 and the second on August 9, 1945.



YAMATO (Japan) Where is Japan?


Historical context


Culture 7






DAI SANJI (catastrophe) World War II Hiroshima and Nagasaki


GO NO (after) Reaction Expresions: Hiroshima and the Emperor’s new clothes The Setting Sun

YAMATO (Japan)



is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters that make up Japan’s name mean “sun-origin”, which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, together accounting for ninety-seven percent of Japan’s land area. Has the world’s tenth-largest population, with over 127 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents. 1

Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan’s history. Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet. Japan has the world’s third-largest economy .Has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains an extensive modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles.




Situated off the eastern edge of the Asian continent, the Japanese archipelago is bounded on the N by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the E and S by the Pacific Ocean, on the SW by the East China Sea, and on the W by the Sea of Japan / East Sea. The total area of Japan is 377,835 sq km (145,883 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Japan is slightly smaller than the state of California. It extends 3,008 km (1,869 mi) NE – SW and 1,645 km (1,022 mi) SE –NW and has a total coastline of 29,751 km (18,486 mi). Japan’s principal island is Honshu, on which are located the capital city of Tokyo, the principal cities and plains, and the major industrial areas. This island is divided into five regions: Tohoku, from north of Kanto to Tsugaru Strait; Kanto, embracing seven prefectures in the Tokyo-Yokohama region; the Chubu, or central, region, from west of Tokyo to the Nagoya area; Kinki, including the important cities of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Nara; and Chugoku, a narrow peninsula thrusting westward from Kinki between the Sea of Japan / East Sea and the Inland Sea, which lies between southern Honshu and the island of Shikoku. The Japanese government maintains that the Habomai island group and Shikotan, lying just off Hokkaido and constituting fringe areas of the Kurils, belong to Japan and should be returned to Japanese administration. These islands and the Kuril Islands are currently occupied by Russia, whose claims are not formally recognized by Japan.



THE FIRST EMPEROR It is generally believed that Japan was founded in 660 BC, with the first emperor, Jimmu. After ascending the throne and ruling over Kyushu, Emperor Jimmu expanded his empire northward to Yamato. During this time, Korea’s influence on Japan’s culture was considerable. Korea had made great strides in their culture, significantly influenced by China, and these influences were passed on to Japan. By the 5th century with the help of the Paekche kingdom, Chinese writings were beginning to be used in court and around 430, historiographers were appointed in an effort to keep accurate records. Buddhism was brought to Japan during this time from Korea as well, which made a noteworthy impact on Japan. Although the relationship between Korea and Japan was weakening, Buddhism was firmly entrenched in Japan’s culture, with it becoming the national religion by the 7th century.


Using China’s centralized government as a model, Japan drafted their first constitution, establishing court officials on a hierarchy. In 710, Nara became the capital and in 794 the imperial residence was moved to Kyoto and remained the capital until 1868. The 9th century brought about change with the emperors becoming private, disappearing from public life. It was during this time that the Fujiwara, the main aristocratic family, essentially became the leaders of Japan. In 858 they took power and kept it for three centuries. The period under Michinaga, considered to be the supreme Fujiwara leader, is considered to be Japanese literature’s “classical age.” It also brought about a change from centralized government to one of dividing up the country into great estates. Initially joining together for protection, warriors from the Taira and the Minamoto clans eventually gained recognition for

the military abilities (the Taira in the southwest and the Minamoto in the east).

by the Hojo family, who then became the military rulers of Japan in 1219.

When these clans started broaden their power to the court, a power struggle began. After two wars, the first in 1156 and the second in 1159-60, the Minamoto were defeated by the Taira who then took control from the Fujiwara.

The Hojo’s had the emperor appoint shoguns, thus allowing the Hojo’s to have all the power as regents. The Hojo’s never became shoguns, in spite of this they kept their power for over one hundred years.

In 1180, the same year the Taira leader’s infant son became emperor, the Minamoto’s led an revolt that sent the Taira out of the capital. The war ended in 1185 and Yorimoto, the Minamoto leader, became Japan’s leader. One of the things Yorimoto did was create a separation of the military from the government and established a military capital in Kamakura in 1185. It was also during this time that feudalism grew stronger until it surpassed that of the imperial organization. When Yorimoto was appointed to the position of “shogun” (Seitaishogun), it further crystallized his power in Japan, superceding that of the emperor and his court. The Minamoto clan was eliminated





In the beginning of the Heian period from, 552 to 897, Buddhism was introduced to Japan from travelers, tourists, and visitors of China and Korea. Buddhism’s influence was only limited to close friends of the royal family, wealthy people and of course, the King and his family and subjects. Buddhism was only given to the noble class because of its strong beliefs. During the ending of 400 BC new ideas and technology imported into Japan from China. Japanese people adopted the writing of the Chinese. Whenever the words from China imports into Japan the Japanese usually change a stroke or two. Prince Shotoku, the prince who ruled Japan from 593 until his death in 622, told and encouraged the Japanese to adopt Chinese ideas and technology. Shotoku wanted more power coming in from China to Japan because he decided that it would be better if there would be more power in the place he would rule in the future. He wanted and needed the power.

The following year Emperor Kotoku and his subjects the Taika Reform, a small program which introduced Chinese ideas and technology. When someone looks at Japanese art, the subject of the painting may not look realistic, but it does not need explanation. A lot of paintings in Japan have back-rounds of mountains and valleys with streams and rivers going towards waterfalls while paintings have backgrounds that are just plain white. When the Japanese paint or sculpt their god Buddha they show him or her sitting on or around lotus flowers. The background shows jewels and flowers dangling from every tree. Most sculptures are made of wood then painted into gold. But somehow the painting are never meant to be realistic. There is little detail and the painting may look dreamlike, someplace in heaven. Dots and lines formed most trees and mountains.


Art forms Japan has one of the most ancient traditions on Earth. The Japanese made many art forms. Drawing was one art form. Another art form was making boxes of all types such as stationary boxes, writings, brushes, and inkstone. Many people wrote poetry on beautifully drawn scrolls made of paper. Poets were very respected at courts that were owned by kings.

The poets used calligraphy, or decorative writing, as an art form. The Japanese also made writing boxes, brushes, and inkstone.

Japanese artists also made many sculptures. Most were made of wood, then painted in gold. The earliest culture, Jomon, made clay pots and figures and we can learn about their culture from these pieces. 9

Process When the Japanese wanted to print a picture they would take a number of blocks depending how many colors there were going to be in the picture or paintings. On all the blocks there would be a different color. On the first block the carver would carve whatever was going to be that certain color. Then he would place a piece of paper and place it on the wet block. The carved image would come onto the piece of paper. He had to do that to every block, keeping the prints on the same piece of paper. When pressure was put on it, it would make a long dark ink stick. Water was poured gently onto a rock and the black ink stick was rubbed against the stone to form ink. When people made ink they usually sat on a soft, puffy, beautifully designed pillow. Japanese art has made people more attracted to art. 10

CULTURE: literature

LETTERS AND FEELINGS Ancient literature (pre-8th Century): With the introduction of kanji (漢字, lit. Chinese characters) from the Asian mainland, writing became possible, as there was no native writing system. Consequently, the only literary language was classical Chinese; later, the characters were adapted to write Japanese, creating what is known as the man’yogana, the earliest form of kana, or syllabic writing. Works created in the Nara Period include Kojiki (712: a partly mythological, partly accurate history of Japan), Nihonshoki (720: a chronicle with a slightly more solid foundation in historical records than the Kojiki), and Man’yoshu (759: a poetry anthology). The language used in the works of this period differs significantly from later periods in both its grammar and phonology. 11

Classical Literature (8th Century - 12th Century): Classical Japanese literature generally refers to literature produced during the Heian Period, what some would consider a golden era of art and literature. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu is considered the pre-eminent masterpiece of Heian fiction and an early example of a work of fiction in the form of a novel. Other important works of this period include the Kokin Wakashu (905, waka anthology) and The Pillow Book (990s), the latter written by Murasaki Shikibu’s contemporary and rival, Sei Shonagon, about the life, loves, and pastimes of nobles in the Emperor’s court. The iroha poem was also written during the early this period, becoming the standard order for the Japanese syllabary until 19th century Meiji era reforms.

Japanese Early-Modern Literature (17th Century - mid-19th): Many genres of literature made their debut during the Edo Period, helped by a rising literacy rate that reached well over 90% (according to some sources), as well as the development of a library system. Ihara Saikaku might be said to have given birth to the modern consciousness of the novel in Japan.

Japanese Meiji and Taisho Literature (late 19th - WW II): The Meiji era marks the re-opening of Japan to the West, and a period of rapid industrialization. The introduction of European literature brought free verse into the poetic repertoire. A new colloquial literature developed centering on the “I novel,” with some unusual protagonists as in Natsume Soseki’s Wagahai wa neko de aru (I Am a Cat). Other famous novels written by him include Botchan and Kokoro (1914). Shiga Naoya, the so called “god of the novel,” and Mori Ogai were instrumental in adopting and adapting Western literary conventions and techniques. 12

DAI SANJI (Catastrophe)



a global military conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, which involved most of the world’s nations.


The most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilised. In a state of “total war,� the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. The main causes of World War II were nationalistic tensions, unresolved issues, and resentments resulting from the First World War and the interwar period in Europe, plus the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The culmination of events that led to the outbreak of war are generally understood to be the 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany and the 1937 invasion of the Republic of China by the Empire of Japan. These military aggressions were the decisions made by authoritarian ruling Nazi elite in Germany and by the leadership of the Kwantung Army in the case of Japan. World War II started after these aggressive actions were met with an official declaration of war and/or armed resistance. There has been a loss of lives of millions of people due to the effects and causes of World War. The start of the war is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Other dates for the beginning of war include the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 13 September 1931, and the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937.


When Japan continued to ignore the Potsdam terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August. 16







little boy


60,000 out of 255,000 people were killed instantly.




80,000 out of 240,000 people were killed instantly. 24



Even after they found out about the events at Hiroshima, the Japanese government censored reports about the atomic bomb, vehemently denying that it had been dropped on the city. The morning newspapers of August 8 revealed nothing more than that a “few enemy planes” had severely damaged Hiroshima with “a wholly new type of bomb” (The Pacific War Research Society). Citizens were kept in the dark about the situation and were simply instructed to wear white clothing in case of another attack. REACTION

Stalin also sent 1.6 million soldiers into Manchuria, threatening the already weakened Japanese forces there. In addition, the Office of War Information ran off millions of leaflets calling Japan to give up or face nuclear attacks “again and again” until they ended the war at once (1945: Atom bomb hits Nagasaki). These leaflets contained images of the destruction caused by the atomic bomb and more than three million were dropped over the other Japanese cities (Marx 196). The Supreme Coucil of the Direction of War was divided between those who wanted peace, and those who wanted to continue with the war. With the cabinet locked in a stalemate, the Emperor Hirohito sided with the peace faction and advocated surrender. On August 8, he instructed the Foreign Minister to tell the Prime Minister “that Japan must accept the inevitable and terminate the war with the least possible delay” and that there cannot be a repeat of the tragedy at Hiroshima. However the war faction though not daring to flatly defy the Emperor, continued to resist strongly and ultimately had a hand delaying his message to the Prime Minister. This would prove to have horrific consequences.


nothing more than that a “few enemy planes” had severely damaged Hiroshima with “a wholly new type of bomb” NOTHING MORE THAT THAN A “FEW ENEMY PLANES”





Chubby, glossy face shiny with sweat, the emperor of the new clothes,

his (nuclear) belly button plain to see, says he’s coming to Hiroshima. He says he’ll pay his respects at the atomic cenotaph. Can he really stand belly-button-bare before the monument that says “the mistake shall not be repeated”? The emperor of the new clothes,

who says what is isn’t and what isn’t is and turns lies and fraud into state policy, says he’s coming, bare belly button and all. In Hiroshima not only the children but also the old people, the men, the women laugh, get angry at the chubby emperor’s belly-button antics.

In April he pays his respects at the shrine to war, 31

in August he pays his respects at the atomic cenotaph. Repeating flat contradictions every day, in the country across the sea he says what they want him to say; here at home, for domestic consumption, he says what is isn’t and what isn’t is.

But Hiroshima will not be fooled. O, you 200,000 dead! Come forth, all together, from the grave, from underground.

Faces swollen with burns, black and festering, lips torn, say faintly, “We stand here in reproach.” Shuffle slowly forward, both arms shoulder high, trailing peeled-off skin. Tell them— the emperor of the new clothes and his entire party—

what day August sixth is.

-Kurihara Sadako, Hiroshima poet 32

THE SETTING SUN a post-war novel by Osamu Dazai.


The post-war period in Japan was one of immense social change as Japanese society adjusted to the shock of defeat and to the occupation of Japan by American forces and their allies. This book takes this milieu as its background to tell the story of the decline of a minor aristocratic family. The story is told through the eyes of Kazuko, the unmarried daughter of a widowed aristocrat. Her search for self meaning in a society devoid of use for her forms the crux of the novel. Kazuko’s mother falls ill, and due to their financial circumstances they are forced to take a cottage in the countryside. Her brother, who became addicted to opium during the war is missing. When he returns, Kazuko attempts to form a liaison with the novelist Uehara. This romantic displacement only furthers to deepen her alienation from society. A novel concerned with the pervasive moral attitudes (or lack of them) in the postwar period of Japan and the possibility of hope (in this case referred to as ‘love’) amongst the absurdity that was “modern man”.

published in 1947 set in Japan after World War II 35


the land of the rising sun

AFTER (gono)  

After is a proyect that explores Japan before and after World War II.

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