Organized Panel Session
This panel is concerned with how historical knowledge and historical interpretations are created and communicated to general audiences in a variety of public displays, including exhibitions, historical sites, painting, and public statuary. The papers explore how specific social, cultural, and political forces have shaped public displays of Japan’s martial heritage and helped to fashion collective memory. Asato Ikeda’s paper, “Yokoyama Taikan’s Mount Fuji: Aestheticizing Military” uses the Japanese-style painter’s paintings of Mt. Fuji to explore wartime cultural practices of aestheticizing militarism. Sven Saaler’s “The Meiji Restoration and the Military Heritage of the Imperial House: Statues of Emperors in Modern Japan” examines the public display of the imperial house’s military role in Japanese society as seen in public statuary. Oleg Benesch’s “Castles and Public History in Modern Japan” uses castle sites, with their parks, museums, and historic buildings, to explore how they were utilized in the postwar period as symbols of Japan’s modern military past. Constantine Vaporis’ “Exhibiting the Samurai: Representation, Cultural Identity, and Public History” explores the various approaches taken to the display of the history of the samurai contemporary American museum exhibitions. Collectively, the papers deal with four common tropes of Japan—Mt. Fuji, castles, samurai, and the emperor—as visible and invisible representations of Japan’s martial past. They will explore: 1) how historical and cultural interpretations of these symbols are shaped and communicated to the public; and 2) the tensions between cultural representation for popular consumption and history.