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Japan's Castles

Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace

Oleg Benesch (University of York) Ran Zwigenberg (Pennsylvania State University)

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Cambridge University Press
05 March 2020
An innovative examination of heritage politics in Japan, showing how castles have been used to re-invent and recapture competing versions of the pre-imperial past and project possibilities for Japan's future. Oleg Benesch and Ran Zwigenberg argue that Japan's modern transformations can be traced through its castles. They examine how castle preservation and reconstruction campaigns served as symbolic ways to assert particular views of the past and were crucial in the making of an idealized premodern history. Castles have been used to craft identities, to create and erase memories, and to symbolically join tradition and modernity. Until 1945, they served as physical and symbolic links between the modern military and the nation's premodern martial heritage. After 1945, castles were cleansed of military elements and transformed into public cultural spaces that celebrated both modernity and the pre-imperial past. What were once signs of military power have become symbols of Japan's idealized peaceful past.
By:   Oleg Benesch (University of York), Ran Zwigenberg (Pennsylvania State University)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 150mm,  Width: 230mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   540g
ISBN:   9781108741651
ISBN 10:   1108741657
Pages:   376
Publication Date:   05 March 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction; Part I. From Feudalism to Empire: 1. Castles and the transition to the imperial state; 2. The discovery of castles, 1877-1912; 3. Castles, civil society, and the paradoxes of 'Taisho militarism'; 4. Castles in war and peace: celebrating modernity, empire, and war; Part II. From Feudalism to the Edge of Space: 5. Castles in war and peace II: Kokura, Kanazawa, and the rehabilitation of the nation; 6. 'Fukko': Hiroshima Castle rises from the ashes; 7. Escape from the center: castles and the search for local identity; 8. Japan's new castle builders: recapturing tradition and culture; Conclusions.

Oleg Benesch is Senior Lecturer in East Asian History at the University of York. He is the author of Inventing the Way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushido in Modern Japan (2014). Ran Zwigenberg is Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University. His first book, Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture (Cambridge, 2014), won the Association for Asian Studies John W. Hall Book Award in 2016.

Reviews for Japan's Castles: Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace

'An exciting history of Japan from the Tokugawa period to the present, as seen through the lens of its castles. The book explores their shifting meaning within the context of Japan's drive to modernize, its militarism, construction of empire, wartime devastation, postwar recovery, and search for meaning in a postmodern world.' Constantine N. Vaporis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County 'In describing the life of Japanese castles, Benesch and Zwigenberg have taken an inherently interesting topic left unexplored by academics and given us a model of how to launch a new field of study with grace and aplomb. There is much here to satisfy students, scholars, and the interested public.' Michael Wert, Marquette University, Wisconsin 'Oleg Benesch and Ran Zwigenberg's Japan's Castles is a timely addition to the growing body of literature on historical memory and heritage in modern Japan ... this groundbreaking work will change the ways readers will look at castles during future visits ... this is a pioneering work that persuasively demonstrates the strengths of memory studies based on a methodological combination of field studies, archival research, and the analysis of a broad range of newspapers and periodicals. The increasing accessibility of such sources allows the contemporary historian to present a much more nuanced analysis than was possible in the past, and Benesch and Zwigenberg deserve the highest praise for having achieved this goal and for weaving the abundant information gathered together to produce a coherent, richly documented, and extremely stimulating volume.' Sven Saaler, The Journal of Asian Studies 'An exciting history of Japan from the Tokugawa period to the present, as seen through the lens of its castles. The book explores their shifting meaning within the context of Japan's drive to modernize, its militarism, construction of empire, wartime devastation, postwar recovery, and search for meaning in a postmodern world.' Constantine N. Vaporis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County 'In describing the life of Japanese castles, Benesch and Zwigenberg have taken an inherently interesting topic left unexplored by academics and given us a model of how to launch a new field of study with grace and aplomb. There is much here to satisfy students, scholars, and the interested public.' Michael Wert, Marquette University, Wisconsin 'Oleg Benesch and Ran Zwigenberg's Japan's Castles is a timely addition to the growing body of literature on historical memory and heritage in modern Japan ... this groundbreaking work will change the ways readers will look at castles during future visits ... this is a pioneering work that persuasively demonstrates the strengths of memory studies based on a methodological combination of field studies, archival research, and the analysis of a broad range of newspapers and periodicals. The increasing accessibility of such sources allows the contemporary historian to present a much more nuanced analysis than was possible in the past, and Benesch and Zwigenberg deserve the highest praise for having achieved this goal and for weaving the abundant information gathered together to produce a coherent, richly documented, and extremely stimulating volume.' Sven Saaler, The Journal of Asian Studies


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