Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 Symposium

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan and the Gordon W. Prange Collection, University of Maryland Libraries

The Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) of the Embassy of Japan and the University of Maryland Libraries are proud to co-present a symposium in conjunction with the exhibition Crossing the Divide: An American Dream Made in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952. This exhibit features the Gordon W. Prange Collection, the most comprehensive archive in the world of Japanese print publications issued for the first four years of the U.S. Occupation of Japan. It will be on display in Hornbake Library North of the University of Maryland, College Park through July 2019.

On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the United States and Allied Powers, ending World War II. In the aftermath, thousands of U.S. military and civilian personnel and their families moved to Japan to oversee the rehabilitation of the defeated nation. Using a variety of graphic images, film clips, and photographs, this symposium will visualize the landscape of Occupied Tokyo and reveal how Japanese people participated in building an American Dream for the occupying military personnel and how through this experience the Japanese began to rebuild their lives and construct a new nation.


Yukako Tatsumi

Yukako Tatsumi, Curator of the Gordon W. Prange Collection, University of Maryland, will discuss the exhibition theme, which highlights encounters and interactions between Americans and Japanese in segregated communities built to reflect an American Dream. Sharing examples of the materials on display, Tatsumi will illuminate an “American Dream” that these communities represented and how Japanese people envisioned their own dreams as they rebuilt their lives and nation in war-torn Tokyo.

Jordan Sand

Jordan Sand, Professor of Japanese History, Georgetown University, will examine early postwar Tokyo in film. Sand will focus particularly on the physical condition of the city: how directors portrayed its burned-out and impoverished condition, the housing crisis, and the effects of war and occupation on people's lives. He will also talk about censorship and the absent presence of the U.S. military, as well as plans and hopes for the future city. The presentation will use clips from Kurosawa's "One Wonderful Sunday" and "Drunken Angel," Ozu's "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's documentary "20年後の東京."

Michele M. Mason

Michele M. Mason, Associate Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies, University of Maryland, will discuss kamishibai, or Japanese street theater, a unique form of popular culture with a long and vibrant history. She will trace the transformations of kamishibai from its roots in early 20th century, through its mobilization as a form of propaganda during the wartime era, and, finally, to its role in communicating new ideas in a democratizing postwar Japan. Sharing examples of the colorful panels, varieties of genres, and prevalent themes, Mason will sketch the prominent issues facing Japan in these distinct historical moments.

Yoichi Sato

Yoichi Sato, Professor of Visual History of Waseda University, will examine U.S. personnel’s perspective on Japanese urban space and people’s everyday life by presenting their personal photo collections. Using the typology of viewing called “Gaze type,” Sato will comparatively analyze the specific features of private and official photographs and discuss how Americans captured postwar Tokyo through the viewfinder.

Photo & Video Policy

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