Reading Nishijin (1961) as Cinematic Memory

Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780199731664
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Reading Nishijin (1961) as Cinematic Memory


This chapter addresses how Matsumoto Toshio's 1961 documentary film encapsulated memories of the post-occupation period in Japan. As historian John W. Dower revealed, the Japanese quite remarkably embraced their defeat along with US support. But further questions remain: whether the Japanese were so accepting of the new alignment of power, and how they managed the recovering process as cultural subjects. The hypothesis is that the postwar period's culture was constituted by a diverse population, shaped by differences in locale and class, especially in the post-occupation period (1952-1960). Viewed in that context, Nishijin's depiction of a craftsmen's forced life in the traditional textile trade of Kyoto discloses the multiplicity of the Japanese as well as offering an instance to contemplate the role of cinema as the most popular culture at that time. The film encapsulates various people's multiple memories, which let us reveal the dialogue of multiple subjects.

Keywords: documentary memory; postwar; post-occupation; poetics of cinema; Matsumoto Toshio; textile trade; Kyoto folk crafts; grassroots movement; Mingei

Article.  6896 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Film

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