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  • kendo`s role in the rise of nationalism during the prewar period

    I realise that putting up a thread like this is bound to get me some stick, but it is a subject that I am interested in so I`ve decided to anyway. As you probably know, kendo was among a number of `traditional` activities that were banned by the allies immediately post-war because of their perceived nationalistic elements. I hear that one of the main reasons that the ban on kendo, and other activities, was removed was in order to secure Japanese support for the war in Korea, although I have not been able to confirm this.
    Anyway, I wanted to know if anyone knew of any good sources, either english or japanese (most likely japanese I guess) that attempt to ask whether kendo really was used in order to foster national unity etc, or even just material from the time that deals with the subject anecdotally. As you can imagine, this isn`t really the sort of thing that you can just ask anyone, and as the oldest Japanese kendoka that I feel even close to being able to discuss this kind of thing with is only 64, a first hand account is pretty much out of the question.
    Anyway, thanks for any help you might be able to give.

  • #2
    Well, I don't know if you can compare it to Nazi Germany, but I'll do it anyway.
    Initially Hitler Jugend was more or less just a standard boy-scout organisation, but in order to gain more control, more and more youth oriented activities got rolled in under Hitler Jugend, until virtually every single youth was in HJ, whether they wanted to or not. (Didn't really have much choice). This enabled the Nazi fear and propaganda machine to introduce a strong martial and nationalistic aspect into these activities.
    I can easily see kendo being hi-jacked in a similar manner, with both the martial and traditional aspects of it, making it an easy and desirable target.

    Jakob

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    • #3
      Hard question you ask there I've only found one, though mostly it explains the process of militarization rather than looking at it critically

      http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_abe_0600.htm

      it's not something that is commonly asked, most people just take the fact that it was used to foster nationalism, etc. so its hard to find a source that a criticze the issue

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      • #4
        There is a book called "flyboys" which details a great deal of this from personal Japanese accounts. Another interesting book is Embracing Defeat dealing with MacArthur and the post war occupation. If you read Dr. Hazards writings on the AUSKF web site he was part of the occupation force and started kendo at that time.

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        • #5
          Weird conincidence! I have been thinking of posting on almost this exact topic, then I see someone else has. Anyhoo...

          I'm actually interested in the connection between kendo and the political right in both pre and post-War Japan. After reading Brian Victoria's "Zen War Stories", I have become very interested in the political behaviour of various sensei.

          Omori Sogen was one sensei who was very active in ultra-right wing circles both before and after the war, according to Victoria. There are other sensei who have at various times been jailed. Many saw active service in Manchuria. Has anyone written a history or an examination of the connections, if any? Of course kendo is such a big area that there are bound to be some. Still a scholarly examination of the non-spurious ones would be interesting.
          Anyone?

          b

          PS - I was going to post this on e-budo, but it seems to have died.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ben
            PS - I was going to post this on e-budo, but it seems to have died.
            Go here to find out what happend to ebudo

            http://www.budoseek.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=5689

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            • #7
              thanks for the replies. I wasn`t really expecting much, but there are some very helpful references here, especially aru-ma`s link, which goes to an article with a bibliography stuffed full of interesting looking stuff. Of course, if there`s anyone else with info, don`t hold back!
              Thanks again.

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