Hirohito & Japan
about the Hirohito & Japan pages
The Japan home page begins with Hirohito's Imperial form of authority, and follows through his death, the end of the regime, transition to another form, and consequences of this particular end. The first section asks how the essence of political authority, the emperor as a "god," might escape the destructive power of the atomic bomb.
Click on any of the seven small photos and you are linked to an enlarged image. Listen to the associated music or sound by clicking on the small ear icon. We selected images for their potential evocative force, knowing full well that they lend themselves to different interpretations. For the funeral images, we have selected military music written in pentatonic scale, yet played by a western-style brass band. One also hears the impromptu singing of this same melody and lyrics by the anthropologist Kyung-Koo Han, juxtaposed to the imperial image of Hirohito as "god" on his white horse. Other images are accompanied by fragments and montages of American news reports, speeches, and anthems. Just as Imperial Japan twisted its venerable tradition of the Samurai warrior to shape itself as a regime, so the games in the contemporary video arcade trivialize the warrior traditions hidden amongst the new loyalties of a bustling, modern day Japan. Please be patient as sound files take some time to load.
The caption on each enlarged image does not direct you outside the photo but rather to the image itself. What is included and excluded from view? What does this image and juxtaposed sound say about authority?
The three longer "home page" texts that accompany the images and sounds of each section attempt a succinct narration of the theme. They simply point to the story, told in more detail in the book and film.
The third section, Consequences, implies no causal relationship but alludes to key events in the construction of political authority, half a century of experience, following the regime's end. What was the nature of the rupture in political authority following the death of the Father? Our selection of ongoing historical events merely suggests ways into further exploration of Japanese political authority.
Borneman & Linda Fisher, June 1999