While in Tokyo on Wednesday, December 18th, the Gail Project group had an opportunity to visit Gallery ef in Asakusa. Upon entering, one finds the lovely Cafe ef, which provided us with a welcome moment of calm (and caffeine) in the midst of busy Tokyo. However the real treasure to us history students was the warehouse beyond the cafe’s back wall…

The warehouse was originally built in 1868, following a traditional Edo period technique which used no nails. The building first survived the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, despite fires that burnt down most of the city. Just over 20 years later, this warehouse was one of the only survivors of the B-29 raids on Tokyo carried out by the United States near the end of WWII. It also withstood the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake, with only the slightest bit of damage.

The building now functions as an art gallery and hosts small musical performances. 

The lower of the two images shows the city after the Tokyo firebombing. The windowless, white, square building to the upper left of the frame is the warehouse itself.

Standing inside the building was a deeply moving experience. To touch the walls and wood that had survived these events was truly humbling. I cannot speak for everyone, but when faced so directly with the effects of American warfare, I began to think about the responsibility that I have as a citizen of the United States. To those reading, I would like to raise the question, how do the decisions we make affect the lives of people all over the world?

- Madeline

(Many thanks to Izumi-san for sharing this treasure with us!)

Want an artistic glimpse of the 2012 Routes trip to Japan? Check out this photo gallery by photographer Liam Townsend:

Want an artistic glimpse of the 2012 Routes trip to Japan? Check out this photo gallery by photographer Liam Townsend:


Possible future research leads

Dear All,

In the meeting last night at Duus library (4/23/12), the research group has collaborated our research together to come up with some possible research leads for making our prototype project going forward, and who’s tackling what. I have a few holes in my notes since I wasn’t able to jot down every little teeny detail (especially some last names), so for those of us who were at the meeting or are familiar with the subjects please feel free to add anything I missed:

Doihara Kenji- Starts in Japan, ends up in Manchuria, returns to Japan. He is known as the “Laurence of Manchuria”. Kenji is an all-around spy, opium runner, prostitute ring-engager, and a general. Kenji was convicted of war crimes at the Tokyo War Crimes trial & was executed in 1948. We have all of his charges, we just need the transcripts of the trial. Kenji is a big name in Japan, but not well known in USA. [Kyle Wojnar’s research subject]

Fumiko- Born in Manchuria to settler parents, spends several years in Sibera. She is later sent to a labor camp in Siberia, and repatriated to Japan in 1954. Fumiko and Sano’s stories are both related to Siberian labor camps, which may be useful.

Peter Sano- Grew up in Brawley (Central California). Goes to Tokyo to be adopted by Japanese parents, then goes to to Manchuria and is later sent to labor camps in Siberia, then returns to Japan after the war to work with the Occupation. Finally, after convincing the Americans to return his citizenship, Sano ends up in Palo Alto as an architect. His father was a minister in a Japanese christian church. In his bio, Sano has little discussion about the Occupation phase or his time in US (A major point in a potential interview must be to ask him about his role in the Occupation and his time in US). In his bio however, he did discuss his early 50s and recollected his time in Japan & Siberia. We believe he seems like a good candidate for the prototype because of his easy accessibility and wealth of information [Jeff & Brianna’s research subject]

Kazuko- 3 generations of her family lived in Manchuria. Her story is of escaping from Manchuria and arriving in Japan. Our job is to locate where they were in Manchuria, and where they came from in Japan.

Hagiwara Teiji- Teiji was living in Manchuria as an employee of corporations, and later worked for JETRO (Japan’s External Trade Organization). Teiji was in business after the war as well, in 1954. His biography is “Coming home from China”.

Tsuneo- Researcher at CRL during the war. His memoir is focused on participating in the construction of the Manchurian railway. His memoir is located on Melville.

Mei Niang- A Chinese fiction writer who wrote short stories and poems. Born in Vladivostok. Lived in Manchukuo for many years. Her husband died on a ship which capsized in 1948 en route to Taiwan as he was escaping China. Niang worked for a chinese film company, and was later purged as a former Nationalist collaborator. Even after this, she opts to stay in Communist China anyway. Her sole surviving child lives in Vancouver, and as far as we know, she was alive in 2006/7.

Taro Yashima- Leftist artist in the pre-war years. Yashima fled Japan to come to the US in 1935. As an artist, Yashima he created propaganda bills for the US war effort under the OSS. In 1943, he published a multilingual article about life in pre-war Japan called “The New Sun”, and later published a sequel title called “Horizon is Calling” (1947). Yashima is the father of Mako Iwamatsu, the famous actor. Mako born to one of Taro’s wives in Japan, and was left behind when his father fled to the US. In the early 1950s, Yashima began writing and illustrating children’s books under the pseudonym he had used in the OSS, such as Crow Boy (1956), Umbrella (1958) and Seashore Story (1967). Mr. Yashima returned to his home village of Nejime, Japan, visiting childhood classmates and other familiar scenes which he depicted in several of his children’s picture books. Along with film maker Glenn Johnson, they produced a 26-minute documentary hosted and narrated by Yashima, entitled Taro Yashima’s Golden Village.

Xavier Maruyama- Lives in Pacific Grove. His father was in Manchuria at the end of war, got out early, and started a campaign in 1945 to repatriate Japanese from Manchuria. His biography, written by his son Paul Maruyama, is entitled “Escape from Manchuria”.

V.K. Wellington Koo- Chinese representative of Guomindang to the League of Nations at the time of the Chinese Civil War, representative to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Ambassador to France, Great Britain, and the United States; participant in founding the League of Nations and the United Nations, and judge on the International Court of Justice at the Hague from 1957 to 1967. Between October 1926 and June 1927, while serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koo briefly held the concurrent positions of acting Premier and interim President of the Republic of China. Koo is the first and only Chinese head of state known to use a Western name publicly. His grandson David Koo teaches astronomy at UCSC.  [Dennis Wang’s research subject]

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Picture of the Day: Night Lights

This was taken outside a train station.

Photo by: Liam Townsend

- Loc Le

Picture of the Day: Statue in Ueno Park

This is just one of the many beautiful and haunting statues that I noticed that around Tokyo.  Walking around all of the historical buildings and parks, one gets a sense of amazement when looking at these ordinary statues.  To me, they are just so moving and powerful.  This statue in Tokyo’s Ueno Park was the first of the many statues that really moved me.  While I could not read what the description of what it meant, this particular statue still left me in awe.  It just goes to show that even some of the more mundane things can still leave a great impression.

-Trevor Ezaki

Photo: Trevor Ezaki


Approximately 200-400 years ago during Japan’s Edo period, an unknown artist created what is easily the most profound demonstration of human aesthetics ever committed to parchment. I am referring to He-Gassen a.k.a. 屁合戦 a.k.a. “the fart war.” In this centuries-old scroll, women and men blow each other off the page with typhoon-like flatulence. Toss this in the face of any philistine who claims that art history is boring.

(via theladymonsters)

Things You Might Not Be Able to Read…

Today’s book is Ah! Manchuria: The Recollections of the Industrialists and Pioneers Who Built the Country (『ああ満州 国つくり産業開発者の手記』), published in 1965 by the Manchuria Recollection Editorial Association (editors) and the Nôrin shuppan kabushikikaisha (publishers).

This behemoth of a book clocks in at 928 pages (each page is printed with a top and bottom row of text) and has the reminiscences of about 400 people. The foreword is written by Kishi Nobusuke, former “reform bureaucrat” in Manchuria, wartime Minister of Commerce and Industry (which made him responsible for the wartime use of forced laborers) postwar prisoner at Sugamo prison (arrested for Class A war crimes, but never indicted) and Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960. (See a recent book by Janis Mimura, Planning for Empire: Reform Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State for details of Kishi’s Manchurian era)

I picked this book up years ago in a little used book store in Tokyo, under the Kôenji Station. The store specialized in books on Okinawa and the owner used to sit at the register, behind ungainly stacks of books, plucking away at an Okinawan sanshin. When I bought this book, I had no concrete interest in Manchuria. But it was only ¥3000, so with the vague notion “Maybe some day…” I grabbed it.

-Alan Christy

First attempt at watermarking our photos.
- Loc Le

First attempt at watermarking our photos.

- Loc Le