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Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami by Gretel Ehrlich

By Gretel Ehrlich

A passionate scholar of eastern poetry, theater, and artwork for a lot of her existence, Gretel Ehrlich felt forced to come to the earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast to undergo witness, hearken to survivors, and event their terror and excitement in villages and cities the place all take care of and desire appeared misplaced. In an eloquent narrative that blends robust reportage, poetic statement, and deeply felt mirrored image, she takes us into the upside-down international of northeastern Japan, the place not anything is sure and the place the limits among dwelling and demise were erased through water.

The tales of rice farmers, priests, and wanderers; of fishermen who drove their boats up the steep wall of the wave; and of an eighty-four-year-old geisha who survived the tsunami handy down a tune that in simple terms she nonetheless remembered are either harrowing and inspirational. dealing with dying, dealing with existence, and coming to phrases with impermanence are both compelling in a panorama of surreal desolation, because the ghostly specter of Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear energy advanced, spews radiation into the sea and air. Facing the Wave is a testomony to the buoyancy, spirit, humor, and strong-mindedness of these who needs to locate their manner in a by surprise shattered international.

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It is clear that the mass-produced material culture of housing and clothing, newspapers, books, magazines, movies, records, and spectacles (including nightlife), state ideology, and policy presumed and produced a consumer-subject; all were intricately interconnected. After World War I, both consumption and production were rationalized, as department stores offered household goods, clothing, and “mass cafeterias” that became sites of new family leisure activity. By 1919, the major emporiums of Shirokiya, Matsuya, Takashimaya, and Sogō were catering to urban customers and provincial gawkers; they were followed by Marubutsu and Daimaru in 1920 and Isetan in 1922.

The earthquake of 1923 signified a break with the past and with traditions, including those created by the modern state. Officially, time might be measured in terms of imperial reigns, but numerous documents attest that people divided their lives into pre- and post-earthquake segments. I do not, however, see in Japanese modern culture the other Baudelairean concept discussed by Harvey: an eternal notion of humankind. Of course, official ideology, encapsulated in the “Imperial Rescript on Education” that yoked the Japanese subject to empire through family and ancestry, was premised on the idea of a timeless, seamless filial piety.

Advertisement for fountain pen 10. The Lady Beauty Shop 11. Modern Girl in café 12. Abe Sada after arrest, May 20, 1936 THE CAFÉ WAITRESS SANG THE BLUES 13. The Salon Manchuria 14. Foot motions of the café waitress 15. Clothing of café waitresses on Ginza FROM ERO TO EMPIRE 16. Women’s section at a movie theater, 1931 17. Magazine spread showing Shirley Temple, 1936 18. Advertisement for Kunisada Chūji 19. Cartoon for Mickey Mouse’s seventh birthday THE HOUSEHOLD BECOMES MODERN LIFE 20. “How to Make a Sandwich,” 1932 21.

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