2005 Annual Meeting: Border-Crossing Sessions


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Session 185: Sentiments and Thoughts in Everyday Life: Romance, Food, and Child-Rearing of the Japanese Settlers in Colonial Korea

Organizer and Chair: Helen J. S. Lee, University of Florida

Discussant: Faye Kleeman, University of Colorado, Boulder

Keywords: Japanese colonialism, Japanese settlement community in colonial Korea, 1900s–1940s, everyday life.

This panel examines private aspects of everyday life that organize human activities and cultural practices such as food, romance and homemaking, that shaped the domain of everyday life for the Japanese settlers in colonial Korea in the early twentieth century. By making use of source materials such as cookbooks and diaries, the papers in this panel attempt to underscore the basic features of everyday life that govern human sentiments and thoughts, and investigate what Ann Stoler has called "the domains of the intimate." Nicole Cohen’s paper examines the challenges Japanese parents and educators faced when trying to raise their children in the colony "as proper Japanese," a problem made all the more difficult in time by the tendency of these second generation Japanese to identify themselves with their land of birth, Korea. Atsuko Aoki’s paper presents the diaries of Jōkō Yonetarō, a Japanese schoolteacher to Korean children, to demonstrate the inner conflict and agony of a colonial man whose love interests in a Korean woman and political skepticism toward imperial policies led him to challenge the imposing boundaries between Japanese and Koreans. Helen Lee’s paper employs cookbooks published in the early 1940s in colonial Korea as a central source to explore the discourse of the domestic sphere in imperial Japan and argues how food was deployed as a prescriptive apparatus to appropriate the body and sentiment for the war effort.

Colonial Intimacy and Ethnic Boundary: Actualities of Interethnic Romance in Colonial Korea

Atsuko Aoki, Brown University

Scholars of Japanese colonialism have demonstrated that intermarriage between Japanese and Koreans was indeed encouraged by Japanese colonial officials as an embodiment of the naisen yuwa (integration of Japan and Korea) policy, and that Japanese and Korean writers in the 1930s and early 40s produced works addressing the desire for, as well as the vulnerability of, such interethnic unions. This paper attempts to turn to the actual reality of interethnic romance between Japanese and Koreans in colonial settings by examining the diary of Jōkō Yonetarō, a schoolteacher and principal at an elementary school for Korean children in rural parts of Gyeongsangnam-do (a province in southeastern Korea) throughout the 1920s.

Spanning a period of eight years from 1922 to 1930, the diary chronicles the author’s inner agonies experienced as a young bachelor and teacher in the colony wishing to marry one of his Korean female students but facing various social and cultural constraints imposed by the Japanese colonial community. Jōkō’s diary enables us to investigate the tensions between his love interest and the social expectation of his Japanese contemporaries, and address larger issues such as the management of interethnic intimacy in the colony and the regulation of the bachelorhood of young Japanese male colonials.

The Moral and Spiritual Education of Japanese Youth in Colonial Korea

Nicole Cohen, Columbia University

Attention to the Japanese experience in the two-tiered education system of Korea, 1910–1945, provides a rare glimpse of what it was like for young, colonial elites to come of age in the empire. At the same time, it elucidates the fears and concerns plaguing the adults who raised them. One of the greatest fears was that by growing up in colonial Korea, these children did not "know" Japan (nihon wo shiranai). How were educators to inculcate them with Japanese spirit, culture and identity when few of them had actually set foot in Japan proper? While this paper examines how Japanese children were brought up to become good subjects of Japan, it demonstrates how over time, they increasingly began to identify themselves with Korea—not as Koreans, but as the Japanese of Chōsen. Developing a sense of pride of place and experience, many second generation Japanese in Korea expressed a desire to do long-lasting good in it. Moreover as "the future generation of tomorrow’s Chōsen" they saw this as their responsibility.

Retooling Food as the State Apparatus in the 1940s: Healthy Body and "Japanese-ness"

Helen J. S. Lee, University of Florida

"Everyday life" is a growing concern in postcolonial studies that has generated scholastic debates in recent decades and given rise to a new strand of scholarly works (e.g., Julia Clancy-Smith and Ann Stoler). This paper situates "food" within Japan’s colonial discourse of the domestic sphere, Katei, and explores how it becomes a central instrument in organizing the everyday life in the home, and how food preparation and consumption are used as indispensable apparatuses in molding "Japanese" sentiments. Maintenance of "Japanese" identity was particularly critical for those Japanese settlers in colonial territories who straddled, in one form or another, their "home" culture and those of the other. Rather than what one did in the public sphere, what emerged as a central concern for colonial officers in the colonies was what one ate or spoke, or with whom one shared a bed or played in the private arena where no surveillance measure operated. Thus, management of the home was an enduring concern throughout Japan’s colonial dominance that became linked to defining motherhood, sustaining "Japanese-ness" and manufacturing healthy bodies. By focusing on the 1942 cookbook published by the women’s section of Ryokki Renmei (Green Flag Association) in colonial Korea I show how the colonial discourse on food culminates in the early 1940s as a central vehicle in re-defining the body and "Japanese-ness" and re-orienting, appropriating, and "totalizing" everyday life toward the escalating war effort.