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The Japanese Art of Fascist Modernism: Yasuda Yukihiko’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa (1940-41)


In 2011, the Japanese government designated Yasuda Yukihiko’s Camp at Kisegawa (Kisegawa no jin, 1940-41) as an Important Cultural Property (Jūyō bunkazai) (fig. 1). The left half of the painting, which portrays Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-1189), a famous warrior from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), was initially produced and exhibited in 1940 as The Arrival of Yoshitsune (Yoshitsune sanchaku). The right half, which depicts Yoshitsune’s older brother Yoritomo (1147-1199), was added later, and the artist then titled the completed work Camp at Kisegawa (Kisegawa no jin). The finished painting, executed in ink on two paper folding screens, shows the much-desired reunion between the two men before their battle against the rival Heike clan. Given that the list of Important Cultural Properties includes Dogū clay sculptures from the Neolithic Jōmon period and the Niō sculptures at Hōryūji temple in Nara, the designation made Yasuda’s painting a canonical work of Japanese art. What this downplays, however, is the fact that the work was produced during the Second World War and served a political function.[1]

Yasuda Yukihiko, The Arrival of Yoshitsune, 1941-42
Fig. 1. Yasuda Yukihiko, The Arrival of Yoshitsune (the left panel, Yoshitsune sanchaku)/Camp at Kisegawa (the panels together, Kisegawa no jin), 1941-42, ink and color on paper, 166.8 cm. x 370.8 cm. (each panel). The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), which witnessed the intensive modernization and Westernization projects of Enlightenment and Civilization (Bunmei kaika), there have been two broad categories of Japanese painting: Japanese-style paintings (nihonga), executed in ink/color on paper/silk, and Western-style paintings (yōga), created with oil on canvas. Japanese-style paintings have most often been considered as supportive of tradition, while the Western-style paintings have been linked to modernity. Nevertheless, during the Second World War, many Western-style painters were dispatched to the front to depict battles and political events, because of the medium’s supposed ability for realism. Western-style painter Miyamoto Saburō, for example, depicted an encounter between Japanese and British generals on the occasion of the Japanese occupation of Singapore in his The Meeting of General Yamashita and General Percival (Yamashita pāshibaru ryōshireikan kaikenzu, 1942). The painting communicates Japan’s victory over Britain through the generals’ contrasting gestures: Japanese General Yamashita sits near the center of the painting in an imposing posture while three British officials in the foreground look at each other, unable to confront Yamashita. Since, on the other hand, it was generally agreed that Japanese-style painting was not conducive to realism, few Japanese-style painters depicted contemporary soldiers or battles; instead, during the war years, they continued to take as their subject matter traditional iconography, such as religious and historical figures, scenes of nature, and beautiful women.

Since the end of the war, there has been an ironic discrepancy in the status of these two different styles of wartime painting. When the Allied Forces landed in Japan and began the occupation in 1945, the Americans deemed 153 paintings propagandistic and ideologically dangerous, confiscating them in the 1950s and returning them only in 1970 on “indefinite loan” to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.[2] Significantly, almost all of the confiscated paintings, including Miyamoto’s The Meeting of General Yamashita and General Percival, were Western-style paintings. The political purpose of the confiscated paintings has been generally acknowledged: today, when the museum displays the wartime Western-style paintings (still officially “on loan” from the American government), they cannot avoid addressing the issue of the artists’ involvement in the war, whether critically or not.[3] In contrast, Yasuda’s Japanese-style painting, which does not show an actual battle and was not confiscated after the war, can be displayed uncontroversially by the same national museum as a work that only happens to have been produced during the war, and can even be designated by the government as an Important Cultural Property.

The scholarship on wartime art has reflected this disparate treatment. Until the early 1990s, wartime art was written out of modern Japanese art history, considered taboo in the presence of Emperor Hirohito, in whose name the war was fought. Since the death of the emperor in 1989, however, several art historians have examined Japanese war art; there are now a number of monographs and exhibition catalogues on the topic in Japanese by such leading scholars as Tan’o Yasunori and Kawata Akihisa, while Bert Winther-Tamaki’s groundbreaking 1997 essay, “Embodiment/Disembodiment: Japanese Painting during the Fifteen-Year War,” introduced the subject to English-speaking audiences. It is, however, Western-style paintings that have received the bulk of the attention, while wartime Japanese-style paintings have been relatively under-studied.[4]

Kobayashi Kokei, Acala (Fudō myōō), 1940
Fig. 2. Kobayashi Kokei, Acalanatha (Fudō myōō), 1940, ink on color on paper, 186.5 cm. x 125.8 cm. The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Yasuda’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa, which this article examines as a case study, was one of the most celebrated of the Japanese-style paintings produced during the Second World War, and also in many respects typical. Although a few Japanese-style painters such as Dōmoto Inshō (1891-1975) and Kawabata Ryūshi (1885-1966) painted contemporary battles and soldiers, most focused on historical figures, religious icons, or natural landscapes that were associated with Japan’s national identity. Kobayashi Kokei (1883-1957), for example, painted Acalanatha (Fudō myōō, a furious Buddhist deity), which was displayed at the same exhibition to which Yasuda’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune was submitted, the 1940 art exhibition that celebrated the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Era (fig. 2). In 1944, Uemura Shōen (1875-1949), a female painter who experienced remarkable success during the war, executed a portrait of the wife of Kusunoki Masashige, a thirteenth century warrior known to be an imperial loyalist; the painting, Lady Kusunoki (Nankō fujin), was offered to Minatogawa Shrine in Kobe, dedicated to spirits of soldiers who devoted their lives to the nation (fig. 3).

Uemura Shōen, Lady Kusunoki (Nankō fujin), 1944
Fig. 3. Uemura Shōen, Lady Kusunoki (Nankō fujin), 1944, ink and color on paper.

Wartime Japanese-style paintings, in other words, tend to share both subject matter and pictorial style, all featuring a great deal of negative space, emphasis on line drawing, geometrically organized rigid composition, and an auratic stasis. But how do these paintings relate to the war? Focusing on Yasuda Yukihiko’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa will allow us to understand the broader discourse of the Japanese-style painting produced during the Second World War.  I argue here that Yasuda’s painting, produced under extensive state scrutiny, closely paralleled Japan’s wartime state ideology. During the war, the state promoted the movement of “return to Japan” (Nihon kaiki) with such official documents as the 1937 Kokutai no hongi (Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan), which defined and called for the recreation of “things Japanese.” The document, which explained the philosophical understanding of Japan as a country—that is, that Japanese subjects and the emperor are organically bound—was given theoretical support by philosophers and cultural critics who also called for restoration of the “authentic” Japanese culture that existed prior to modernization. Yasuda’s painting, which emulates Kamakura-period paintings, depicts medieval warriors, and was displayed at an exhibition that celebrated Japan’s imperial family, significantly contributed to this politicized cultural discourse.

It is important to remember, however, that while the state repudiated the modernization that had taken place since the mid-nineteenth century, it paradoxically utilized products of modernity such as radio, newspapers and magazines to extend its control and to mobilize citizens on a national scale. Likewise, as I reveal in this article, Yasuda’s painting, which was clearly modeled on specific examples of pre-modern Japanese art, was also stylistically inspired by the modernist aesthetics—post-expressionist machine aesthetics in particular—that had prevailed in the preceding decades. This simultaneous rejection and acceptance of modernity, which we see in the wartime state ideology as well as in visual arts, can be best understood, I suggest, with reference to recent studies of fascism.

Scholars who emerged after the Cold War, led by British historian Roger Griffin, understand fascism as “reactionary modernism,” that is, as a reaction against the process of modernization that paradoxically utilizes modernity (the product of modernization).[5] Such studies force us to question the “comforting equation between modernity and humanism, modernity and civilisation, modernity and progress, modernity and the good,” to use Griffin’s words.[6] More importantly, they allow us to conceptualize fascism globally: if modernization is a global movement, then fascism too can occur outside Italy or even outside Europe. Thus Japanese specialists have recently attempted to understand wartime Japan through the lens of fascism, situating Japan within the global politics of the 1930s and early 1940s, rather than treating the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, the two major battlegrounds of the Second World War, as isolated. No art historian, however, has systematically investigated Japanese wartime paintings in relation to fascism.[7] In this article, situating my study within this theoretical dialogue, I will show that Yasuda’s Camp at Kisegawa mirrors the wartime Japanese state’s vacillation between tradition and modernity, and argue that fascism is a useful framework to reveal link between wartime state politics and “peaceful-looking” Japanese-style paintings. Such paintings, particularly Yasuda’s work, resonate with fascist ideology by displaying anti-modern Japanese traditional values, but in a modern form.

Wartime Japan and State Ideology

Kokutai no hongi (Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan) was the most important state articulation of wartime Japan’s ideological position. Millions of copies of this document, published by the Ministry of Education in 1937, were disseminated to the country’s schools and were memorized by school children. Cardinal Principles starts by advocating the trend of “return to Japan”; since the Meiji period, runs the argument, Japan had introduced too many Western ideas and materials. The document clarifies the absolute principle of Japan to be remembered and followed: kokutai, the sacred bond between the Emperor, a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and his people. It reads:

The unbroken line of Emperors, receiving the Oracle of the Founder of the Nation, reign eternally over the Japanese Empire. This is our eternal and immutable national entity. Thus, founded on this great principle, all the people, united as one great family nation in heart and obeying the Imperial Will, enhance indeed the beautiful virtues of loyalty and filial piety. This is the glory of our national entity. This national entity is the eternal and unchanging basis of our nation and shines resplendent throughout our history. Moreover, its solidarity is proportionate to the growth of the nation and is, together with heaven and earth, without end.[8]

The only way for the Japanese to solve their contemporary economic, social, and political problems, the document declares, is to remember and return to a way of life that existed before Japan opened to the world in the mid nineteenth century.

The “return to Japan” (Nihon kaiki) movement, most clearly articulated by the state through Cardinal Principles, strove to define and recreate a Japaneseness that was antithetical to “the West” and “the modern. ”  Leading figures across various disciplines—philosophy, literature, visual arts, decorative arts, architecture, and film—grappled with the question of precisely what made Japan and its people different.[9] Key to this movement was the infamous symposium “Overcoming Modernity” (kindai no chōkoku), which took place in 1942 at the beginning of the Pacific War, and at which members of the Kyoto School of Philosophy, the Literary Society, and the Japan Romantic Group identified modernity as Japan’s problem.[10] Echoing Cardinal Principles, the participants argued that Japan’s modernization, which started in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and matured in the Taishō period (1912-1926), brought to Japanese society problematic thoughts and lifestyles: the individualism, liberalism, and consumerism that were embedded in Western Enlightenment tradition and capitalism. Through the development of Western-inspired commercial industry and commodity culture—cafés, bars, department stores, movie theaters, and Western-style clothing, housing, and food—people now pursued their individual interests and desires at the expense of traditional values.[11] Modernization, the seminar participants concurred, had destroyed Japan’s spiritual connection with the gods, and the sense of mystery and wonder in everyday life. The development of modern technology and new communication media had resulted in an endless series of partial representations; specialization of knowledge, rationalization, and division of labor gave birth to a new, shallow way of knowing, feeling, and living, all of which had consequently destroyed the immediacy of experience and any sense of totality. For the symposium participants, Japan’s battle against modernity was not just a local matter: it was seen as part of global conflict and thus constituted a “world-historical mission” (Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity, 34). The importance of this symposium lies in the fact that the participants related the notion of “return to Japan” to the country’s violence and military aggression: the war was understood as an opportunity to “rid [Japan] of the ‘sickness’ of Westernization” in order to “reinstitute . . . ‘authentic’ Japanese culture” (35).

Even as the state and leading cultural and intellectual figures called for the recreation of “things Japanese,” however, they also capitalized on modernity: mass media, the modern social/economic infrastructure of civil communities, and industrial technologies. For instance, the anti-modern idea of “return to Japan” epitomized in Cardinal Principles and the “Overcoming Modernity” discussion was disseminated through modern mass media, such as newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, which were largely the product of the second industrial revolution in the Taishō period (1912-1926) and which reached both people living in urban cities like Tokyo and those in remote rural areas. The content of the information, therefore, might have been about Japan’s pre-modern, traditional, “authentic” culture, but the form in which the message was disseminated depended entirely on the advancement of modern media.

The Japanese state in the 1930s and the early 1940s also depended on modern, centralized educational institutions and social/economic infrastructures that became essential to wartime mass mobilization. As historian Andrew Gordon writes, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Japanese citizens came to be “linked to the state and the emperor through a vast and expanding network of functional organs imposed upon them by the state: youth groups, women’s groups, village and neighborhood associations, Sanpō workplace associations, and agricultural and industrial producers’ unions.”[12] And of course Japanese soldiers fought with guns, hand grenade, tanks, ships, and planes—the products of modern industrial technologies.[13] The reality of modern war clearly contradicted the anti-modern rhetoric of “return to Japan.”

Japanese Fascism

Precisely how to describe wartime Japan has been a topic of heated debate. Some scholars use the term “ultranationalism” to highlight the intensity of the zealotry publicly embraced by a majority of Japanese at the time.[14] Many others prefer “militarism,” pointing to the fact that the state was “hijacked” by a group of military officials who ignored the voices of the civilian government starting from the Manchurian Incident in 1931.[15] I do not deny the usefulness of these terms. Rather, I propose that wartime Japan manifested a very specific form of ultra-nationalism and militarism: fascism.

In fact, political scientists, historians, and cultural critics, both inside and outside Japan, have discussed “Japanese fascism” since the 1930s. Before state censorship on publications became strict in the mid 1930s, a large number of Japanese leftist intellectuals such as Hasegawa Nyozekan (1875-1969) criticized the government as dominated by emperor-worshipping right-wing politicians, whom he called fascist.[16] The first English-language publication on Japanese fascism by a Japanese scholar was Ivan Morris’s 1969 translation of Maruyama Masao’s 1947 “The Ideology of Japanese Fascism,” which pointed out ideological affinities among wartime Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, such as collectivism and spiritualism.[17] William Miles Fletcher’s 1982 book The Search for a New Order: Intellectuals and Fascism in Prewar Japan also compellingly reveals the extensive influence of German and Italian thinking on Japanese intellectuals and politicians who became key figures in the late 1930s and early 1940s.[18] These early studies of Japanese fascism, however, tended to draw on European Marxists, who had defined fascism in terms of its government structure, economic policies, and “cultural barbarism,” considered incompatible with modern sensitivities. In this context, the idea of “Japanese fascism” has often been dismissed by Eurocentric scholars who consider Fascist Italy as the undisputable “origin” of fascism and claim that wartime Japan did not fulfill the “checklist” to be qualified as fascist: wartime Japan, for example, had no sharply delineated point of transition to fascism or a mass fascist-style party.[19]

By contrast, the approach of Griffin and others, to which I attend for the purposes of this study, focuses on fascism’s contradictory relationship with modernity; that is, fascism both reacts against and uses modernity. On the one hand, “fascist ideology is by its nature opposed to all those aspects of modernity which are associated with decadence; namely, cultural pluralism, liberalism, and materialism” (Griffin, “Modernity Under the New Order,” 36). On the other hand, fascism’s opposition to aspects of modernity “does not preclude fascists from experiencing a deep awe at the transforming power of technology once purged of these aspects” (“Modernity Under the New Order,” 36). The conceptual and technological frameworks of fascism were essentially modern: their vision of national culture, for instance, was necessarily connected with modern “invention” of tradition, and their conception of the racially defined body was based on the modern scientific practice of human taxonomy. Their goal of total control was possible only through the use of modern mass media, and their means to realize this national community was modern technologies such as tanks and airplanes. As Jeffrey Herf recounts, while promoting the idea of Volk (“people”) and pastoralism, the Nazis clearly invested themselves in the development of fast cars, autobahns, airplanes, radio and other modern technologies (Reactionary Modernism, 2).

As historian Harry Harootunian and others have argued, wartime Japan both rejected modernity and relied upon and actively developed it, and can thus  be understood as a fascist nation. Claims Harootunian, “Fascism in Japan, and elsewhere, appeared under the guise of what might be called gemeinschaft capitalism and the claims of a social order free from the uncertainties and indeterminacies of an alienated civil society, where an eternalized and unchanging cultural or communal order was put into the service of the capitalist mode of production to establish a ‘capitalism without capitalism’” (Overcome by Modernity, xxx). And Alan Tansman notes that “[i]n Japan, as in Europe, fascism emerged as a reactionary modernist response to the threats of social and political division created by the economic and social crises following the First World War. The social, economic, and cultural conditions that gave birth to European fascism were shared by Japan” (3).[20]

The Wartime State, Mobilization, and Censorship

Considering the remarkable degree of state control imposed on art production during the war, it is reasonable to assume that wartime art mirrored, disseminated, or reinforced the fascist ideology. Wartime Japan was a totalitarian state in which the government mobilized all human and material resources and wielded an unprecedented degree of control over every citizen. The establishment of the totalitarian state was gradual: it started with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, when the civilian government lost control over Japan’s army; accelerated with the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, and was complete by 1940, when Konoe Fumimaro (1891-1945) declared the New Order, creating single-party politics.

The crackdown on communists and proletariat activists in the early 1930s  made political resistance to the state in the late 1930s and early 1940s virtually impossible. Hundreds of leftists were arrested, and the majority of them underwent “political conversion” (tenkō) and abandoned their previous political positions.[21] Gordon singles out 1935 as a turning point: in that year, the government passed the Election Purification Movement (Senkyo shukusei undō) in order to control the function of mass politics and transform the political role of the emperor. He writes, “[t]he state would place itself in the role of political mobilizer, not mediator, of diverse groups in society; it would not undertake to ‘represent’ the imperial and popular wills, as the parties sought, but to mobilize and to direct the will of the people in service to an emperor whose will the state defined” (Labor and Imperial Democracy, 320). The state subsequently imposed tight censorship on mass media and controlled the information available to citizens.

The nation’s civil society, which was largely established during the preceding Taishō period, became limited after the beginning of Japan’s war with China in 1937 and was eventually completely eliminated. In 1937, the state launched the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement (kokumin seishin sōdōin undō), in which nationalist organizations rallied the nation, advocating war. In 1938, the National Mobilization Law was enacted, justifying state control of industries and civil organizations. In 1940 Prime Minister Konoe, in his “New Order” campaign, announced the formation of the “Imperial Rule Assistance Association” (Taisei yokusankai), which created a totalitarian single party organization in order to maximize the nation’s efficiency in its battle against China. In the same year, tonarigumi (neighborhood associations) were formed, each of which consisted of several households and functioned as a local surveillance system.[22] Meanwhile, the state intensified its surveillance of citizens, especially of Marxists and pacifists, and the Peace Preservation Law (Chian iji hō) allowed the kempeitai, the military police, to use physical force to suppress those who opposed the war.[23]

These socio-political events influenced, restricted and censored the content of artistic production.[24] Muyama Tomoyoshi (1902-1977), the leader of the legendary avant-garde group MAVO, was arrested twice, in 1930 and 1933. Painter Tsuda Seifū (1880-1978), who portrayed the torture and death of prominent communist writer Kobayashi Takiji (1903-1933) in prison, was arrested in 1933.

At the same time, specific reform was being enacted that affected art exhibitions. In 1935, the Minister of Education, Matsuda Genji (1875-1936) initiated an important art exhibition reform. He sought to revitalize the state-sponsored art exhibition, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition (teikoku bijutsu tenrankai, or Teiten), by bringing together artists from various private organizations.[25] He aimed at excising from the exhibition all signs of the hedonism and excessive liberalism that characterized many artworks of the preceding Taishō period.[26] This reform was the turning point for state consolidation of art communities and paved the way for the system of official war art production of later years.[27] It also had significant implications for the Japan Art Institute, to which Yasuda belonged, as its artists began to develop strong connections with official, governmental organizations. Around 1937, artists started using the slogan saikan hōkoku (“Serve the nation through art”) and began donating the proceeds of exhibitions to the army; in 1938, Western-style painters began going to the battlefield with the army to depict the war.

With Konoe’s  New Order of 1940, many art critics and artists declared that Japan needed to establish a new system in which the state controlled the country’s artistic output, following the example of Nazi Germany.[28] Numerous patriotic associations (hōkokukai) were subsequently founded with the specific goal of supporting the state, and almost everyone in their respective fields became a member of such organizations. In the domain of art there were, to name just two, the Patriotic Association of Japanese-Style Painters (Nihon gaka hōkokukai) and the Patriotic Association of Japanese Artists (Nihon bijutsu hōkokukai), founded in 1941 and 1943, respectively. Art materials could only be obtained through these state-sanctioned organizations, and those who did not obey state authorities were not able to access them. In order to impose censorship and control over art communities, the state also consolidated art magazines, reducing their number to eight in 1942 and to only two in 1944. Surrealism in particular was considered ideologically dangerous by the authorities, and surrealist painter Fukuzawa Ichirō (1898-1992) and art critic Takiguchi Shūzo (1903-1979) were briefly imprisoned in 1941.[29]

Camp at Kisegawa and Japanese Tradition

Yasuda Yukihiko, the artist of The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa, on the other hand, was remarkably active during the war as a painter: in addition to regularly submitting paintings to various exhibitions, he sold paintings at least four times at kennōga-ten (Offering Painting exhibitions), the revenues from which were donated to the state to support the war effort.[30]Kennōga-ten functioned as an alternative venue for Japanese-style painters who did not produce contemporary battle paintings to express their patriotism during the war. In 1940, Yasuda submitted The Arrival of Yoshitsune to the exhibition commemorating the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese imperial reign, and was then commissioned by the Navy to produce a portrait of Yamamoto Isoroku (1884-1943), the chief of the Combined Fleet, who would be killed by American forces only three years later. Yasuda’s wartime contribution was explicitly acknowledged by the state; in 1944, he was invited to work as a professor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and in 1947 he received the Order of Culture from the emperor for his contributions to Japanese art.

The Arrival of Yoshitsune (1940), the left half of Yasuda’s two-screen painting, portrays a fully armed Yoshitsune kneeling on the ground against a plain, unpainted background.[31] Minamoto Yoshitsune was famous as a younger brother of Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun, or military ruler, in Japanese history, who established the Kamakura government in 1192. Yoshitsune, as he is known, was a skilled swordsman and loyal to his older brother, but was later betrayed and forced to commit seppuku (self-disembowelment) by his sibling, who regarded him as a threat. The life of Yoshitsune was fictionalized and popularized in The Gikeiki (Chronicle of Yoshitsune), a Japanese war tale written around the fourteenth century. The chronicle, which treats Yoshitsune’s childhood, his legendary military skills, and his tragic end, inspired numerous noh and kabuki plays and literary works in later periods. The Arrival of Yoshitsune was paired with the right half of the painting a year later in 1941. The right panel shows Yoritomo, with his handsome white face, eboshi hat, and beard, sitting on a tatami mat, and the two panels together depict a meeting between the two brothers that took place at Kisegawa when Yoritomo was waging a battle against the Taira clan. The brothers would eventually defeat the Taira in the Battle of Dan-no-ura in the Genpei War in 1185, which led Yoritomo to establish his government.  The completed work was then titled Camp at Kisegawa and submitted in 1941 to the 28th exhibition of the Japan Art Institute.

The Arrival of Yoshitsune received particularly favorable responses from critics because it was understood to boost the “spirit of the Japanese race” (minzoku no seishin).[32] In 1942, Yasuda received the Asahi Culture Award (Asahi bunka shō) from the Asahi Newspaper Company for the work, attesting to the positive reception of the work even by those outside of the art world (Yasuda yukihiko ten, 157). The success of this painting can be gleaned from the fact that the left panel was given the caption “shindō jissen” (“realization of the way of the subject”) and reproduced and distributed by the Imperial Rule Assistance Association; the posters would have been displayed in local schools and offices.[33] Capitalizing on this success, Yasuda produced at least two more works about the Minamoto brothers: one that depicts them both, in 1943 (now in a private collection), and another showing Yoshitsune alone, in 1942, now housed at the Mitsui Memorial Museum (Yasuda yukihiko ten, 66-67).

Portrait of Yoritomo (Kenboku chakushoku den Minamoto no Yoritomo zō) 1179
Fig. 4. Portrait of Yoritomo (Kenboku chakushoku den Minamoto no Yoritomo zō), 1179, color on silk, 143.0 cm. x 112.8 cm. Jingoji, Kyoto.

Wartime Japanese-style paintings such as Camp at Kisegawa reflect the inherent paradox of fascism, which is obsessed with tradition but whose means are predicated on modernity. On one hand, Yasuda’s painting drew on pre-modern Japanese art, was celebrated as exemplifying traditional Japanese virtues of loyalty, and was displayed at an exhibition that celebrated the myth of Japan’s imperial family. On the other hand, the painting is indebted to modernist aesthetics that had been introduced to Japan in the early twentieth century from Europe and the United States. There can be little doubt that Camp at Kisegawa stylistically alludes to pre-modern Japanese art, notably the picture scroll Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion (Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba) and the hanging scroll Portrait of Yoritomo (Den Minamoto no Yoritomo zō), both produced in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) (figs. 4 and 5). Both works are examples of yamato-e (Japanese pictures) works that emerged in the Heian period (794-1185): yamato-e, defined as opposed to kara-e (Chinese pictures), are known to depict Japanese subject matter and landscapes, executed in a stylized manner, presenting certain pictorial conventions such as abbreviated facial features, large bands of clouds and a bird’s eye perspective.

Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion (mōko shūrai ekotoba), 13th century
Fig. 5. Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion (mōko shūrai ekotoba), 13th century. Museum of the Imperial Collections.

Yasuda would have referred to the Portrait of Yoritomo to render the warrior’s posture and facial characteristics. As with the portrait, Yoritomo in Yasuda’s painting is positioned frontally to the viewer and against a plain background. The remarkable use of negative space that almost dominates the visual field in both Yasuda’s painting and Portrait of Yoritomo makes their pictorial spaces shallow. In the twelfth-century portrait, the black color of the garment is applied uniformly, and there is no indication of light or shadow, thereby emphasizing the garment’s angular shape. In addition, Yasuda seems to have borrowed the painting’s composition from that of a particular scene in the Mongol Invasion scroll, which depicts the story of Takezaki Suenaga (1246-?) who led Japanese forces against Mongols when they attacked Japan in 1274 and 1281. The scene is the very last episode, in which Takezaki, who is sitting on the left in the work, presents the heads of the Mongolian enemies to Adachi Morimune (1231-1285), a samurai who is sitting on the right. A group of arrows placed beside Adachi looks remarkably similar to those of Yoshitsune in Yasuda’s painting; the scroll’s coloration (orange and green) also informed Yasuda’s work, in which he replaced Adachi with Yoritomo, and Takezaki with Yoshitsune. In addition to the yamato-e style, Yasuda employs a traditional Japanese medium: it is executed in a folding screen format, called byōbu, which was imported from China and became an established art form in medieval Japan.

Among those art critics who vigorously praised Yasuda’s work was Okazaki Yoshie (1892-1982), a prominent writer and nativist scholar. In his article “Contemporary Japanese-style Painting and its National Characteristics,” published in Kokuga in 1942, Okazaki called Yasuda’s Camp at Kisegawa an exemplary artwork that is particularly “Japanese.” His discussion hinges mostly on the painters’ use of line (sen), two-dimensionality (heimen), and the resulting mood or aesthetics. He explains how Yasuda’s painting uses decisive lines, which he called “koppō” (literally, “bone method”), that create two-dimensional and flat pictorial spaces. According to Okazaki, the strong lines and flat spaces are characteristic of traditional Japanese art and are what makes Japanese art, which he describes as primal, spiritual, and fundamentally different from the “materialistic” and “scientific” Western art of illusionism.[34] Japanese use of line, he suggests, is indebted to the Asian artistic tradition, but he argues that Japanese lines are unique because, unlike rigid Chinese lines and weak Indian ones, they are rather flexible. Relating the quality of lines to specific Japanese aesthetics, he claims that Japanese lines evoke a sense of the varying and subtle feeling of wabi-sabi (incompleteness, impermanence), aware (the pathos of things), iki (chic), and yūgen (grace and subtlety).[35]

Yasuda Yukihiko, Parting at Yoshino (Yoshino ketsubetsu), 1899
Fig. 6. Yasuda Yukihiko, Parting at Yoshino (Yoshino ketsubetsu), 1899, ink and color on paper. The City of Izu.

The subject of the painting, Yoshitsune coming to help Yoritomo, also holds particular significance. It is important to note that the Minamoto brothers were better known for their falling out than for their cooperation. Yoshitsune was Yasuda’s favorite subject, and the artist produced at least two paintings of him earlier in his career in the Meiji period: Parting at Yoshino (Yoshino ketsubetsu, 1899) and The Farewell of Shizuka Gozen (Shizuka ketsubetsu no zuka, 1907). Notably, both portray a devastated Yoshitsune right after his betrayal by Yoritomo (fig. 6). For The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa, however, the artist painted the brothers’ meeting, a comparatively minor event which has rarely been portrayed in art or literature: Camp at Kisegawa might even be the first visual representation of the meeting in Japanese art history.[36] I would argue that the artist’s choice to depict this particular scene reflected his intention to make the painting comply with the wartime state ideology.

Yoshitsune in Yasuda’s 1940-41 painting exemplifies traditional Japanese virtues celebrated during the war, especially Confucianism, which originated in China but had been naturalized in Japan.[37] In Confucianism, there is a difference in social status between ruler and subject, male and female, parent and child, and older and younger brother. The Confucian ideal of hierarchy and loyalty was clearly advocated by the above-mentioned Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan, which reads:

In each community there are those who take the upper places while there are those who work below them. Through each one fulfilling his portion is the harmony of a community obtained. To fulfill one’s part means to do one’s appointed task with the utmost faithfulness each in his own sphere… This applies both to the community and to the State. In order to bring national harmony to fruition, there is no way but for every person in the nation to do his allotted duty and to exalt it. (Kokutai no hongi, 97-98)

Yoshitsune, who is ready to be called on by and willing to fight for his older brother, thus functioned as a stand-in for Japanese citizens serving, fighting, and dying for people in “the upper places” during the war. The wartime viewers’ rather emotional identification with Yoshitsune was noted by art critics of the time, who unanimously praised The Arrival of Yoshitsune. Suzuki Susumu, in the art magazine Tōei, applauds Yasuda’s apt choice of subject matter, while another art critic in the same magazine, Kanzaki Ken’ichi, imagines how the appearance of Yoshitsune would delight the as yet unpainted Yoritomo.[38] Cultural critic Kawasaki Katsu noted in 1940 that the brothers’ expressions in Camp at Kisegawa “correspond with Japanese people’s readiness toward establishing ‘New Japan’ on the occasion of a national emergency."[39]

Yasuda submitted The Arrival of Yoshitsune to arguably one of the most important exhibitions that took place in Japan during the Second World War. The painting was displayed in conjunction with the 1940 Celebration of Japanese Imperial Reign’s 2600th Anniversary, part of an empire-wide festival organized and sponsored by the state. The celebration was, importantly, an extension of Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan: it was believed, in accordance with the official mythologies, that Japan had been founded in 660 BCE by Emperor Jimmu, the great grandson of Ningi, himself the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu and the first imperial ancestor to descend from heaven.[40] 

The 1940 Celebration of Japanese Imperial Reign’s 2600th [Click and drag to move] Anniversary, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, 10 November in 1940.
Fig. 7. The 1940 Celebration of Japanese Imperial Reign’s 2600th Anniversary, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, 10 November in 1940. Asahi Shimbun.

The most important celebratory event took place in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 10, 1940, with 50,000 people in attendance (fig. 7). The event began with a speech by Prime Minister Konoe, followed by the national anthem, then a speech by Emperor Hirohito, and then a performance of music specifically produced for the celebration. At 11:25 am, all participants shouted “Long Live His Majesty the Emperor” (banzai) three times, which was broadcast over the radio and echoed by those who could not attend (Ruoff, Imperial Japan, 17). The way in which thousands of people were mobilized, gathered into ordered rows, and induced to practice mass rituals echoes the mass gatherings in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, such as the Nuremberg Rally in 1933.[41]

Indeed, 1940 was marked by countless events and activities that celebrated the glorious national history of Japan: they took place on an unimaginable scale throughout the country over the course of the year. There were more than 12,000 events involving 105 million imperial subjects both inside and outside Japan proper (Ruoff, Imperial Japan, 15). Kenneth J. Ruoff, who published a comprehensive study of this anniversary in 2010, documents, for example, the remarkable increase in the number of books on Japan’s national history, which instigated a “history boom” for publishers (33). Similarly, major department stores mounted exhibitions which featured dioramas and panoramas that glorified the national history of imperial Japan; in 1940, different exhibitions were held simultaneously at seven different stores, including Matsuzakaya, Matsuya, and Mitsukoshi (77). In addition, travel agencies and railroad companies organized group tours to visit historically important sites, such as Mount Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture, where the ancestor of the imperial family was said to have descended from the heavens (97). Yasuda’s painting, which visualized Japan’s history through the portrayal of important medieval warriors the Minamoto brothers, without question reinforced this national celebration of Japan’s myth.

The Arrival of Yoshitsune was displayed at the Celebration of the 2600th Anniversary of the Imperial Reign Exhibition (Kigen nisen roppyakunen hōshuku bijutsu ten), at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (Tokyōfu bijutsukan, today’s Tōkyōto bijutsukan), between October 1st and 22nd and November 3rd and 24th.[42] All artworks were again exhibited at the Osaka City Art Museum (Ōsaka shiritsu bijutsukan) between December 1st and 15th of the same year. Significantly, Yasuda was also one of the jurors at the exhibition, which underscores his good standing with the authorities. Participation by artists and visitors was voluntary, but the exhibitions were nonetheless a remarkable success: no less than 306,681 people are thought to have visited the two exhibitions in Tokyo, double the number of visitors to the Monbushō-organized Bunten (Suzuki, “Hōshuku bijutsu ten,” 23; Yasuda Yukihiko ten: botsugo 30 nen, 157). Artists who submitted to the exhibition were praised by art critics for contributing to the state by uplifting the spirit of the Japanese nation and race.[43]

Camp at Kisegawa and Modernity

Yasuda Yukihiko, Parting at Yoshino (Yoshino ketsubetsu), 1899
Yasuda Yukihiko, Parting at Yoshino (Yoshino ketsubetsu), 1899, ink and color on paper. The City of Izu.

Yet ironically, as much as Yasuda’s Camp at Kisegawa draws on and celebrates Japan’s myths and traditions, the painting is also informed by the modernist aesthetics that prevailed in Japan in the first few decades of the twentieth century.[44] In particular, the work shares pictorial language with Japanese-style paintings inspired by machine aesthetics that became popular in the 1930s. It is important to first understand that Camp at Kisegawa is markedly different from Yasuda’s earlier painting of Yoshitsune, Parting at Yoshino, which he completed in 1899. 

The 1899 painting is a perfect example of the late nineteenth century history painting movement, which was closely associated with the founding of modern nihonga and its founder Okakura Tenshin. Nihonga, for Okakura, was a means to foster Japan’s modern national identity but was a synthesis of traditional Japanese art—from the Kanō school of art in particular—and Western academic art.[45] Due to the incorporation of Western academic realism, the painting, which portrays Yoshitsune in the center standing in front of a statue of the Buddha and with two other figures kneeling in front of him, is highly naturalistic; it demonstrates a realistic modeling of the figures and firmly grounds them in an architectural context rendered in substantial detail. The use of techniques associated with Western academic art, such as foreshortening and atmospheric perspective, help to create the illusion of space.

In Camp at Kisegawa, by contrast, Yasuda is certainly not concerned about creating the illusion of three-dimensional space, but rather seems to be interested in stylizing the shapes and forms of the depicted objects and subjects. The emerald green tatami mat that Yoritomo sits on looks tilted forward, refusing to recede in space. The emphasis is clearly on the linearity of the contours of the figures and tatami mat. The flat pictorial space that is created by the frontality of Yoritomo’s body, for example, is further emphasized by the focus on the pattern of his garment rather than on the volume of his body. The deliberate stylization of forms in The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa becomes particularly obvious when it is compared to the naturalistic rendering of space and body in Parting at Yoshino. The stylistic differences between the two works stem from the fact that the artist did not model his 1899 work on pre-modern paintings, while he did in 1940/41. What made Yasuda look to pre-modern yamato-e paintings in the early 1940s? Ironically, it may have actually been Western modernism.

Tsuchida Bakusen, Women of an Island (Shima no onna), 1912
Fig. 8. Tsuchida Bakusen, Women of an Island (Shima no onna), 1912, color on silk, a pair of two-fold screens, 166.5 cm. x 184.0 cm. (each screen). The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

In the field of Japanese-style painting, one can trace the influence of European modernism as far back as the 1910s. The foremost Japanese-style painter who experimented with European avant-garde pictorial visual language was Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936). Unsatisfied with government-sponsored exhibitions, Bakusen formed the Society for the Creation of a National Painting Style (Kokuga sōsaku kyōkai) in 1918, a private organization that stood outside the official, national art institutions.[46] Bakusen and other Japanese-style painters stood in contrast to the first generation of nihonga paintings theorized and advocated by Okakura. Bakusen’s trip to Europe in 1921, during which the artist saw many contemporary Western paintings, prompted his interest in the works of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). It is not difficult to see that Bakusen’s painting Women of an Island (Shima no onna), produced in 1912 as a folding screen with color on ink, is influenced by Gauguin’s Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going (1897) (fig. 8). Both Bakusen’s and Gauguin’s paintings portray in a horizontal format several partially naked “primitive” women near the coast of a remote island. Both artists model the figures with visible black outlines and with little color gradation or shadowing.

Saeki Shunkō (1909-1942), Tearoom (Chaen), 1936
Fig. 9. Saeki Shunkō (1909-1942), Tearoom (Chaen), 1936, ink, color, and silver on paper, 264. 2 cm. x 198.1 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

More important for our purposes, however, was a later trend of paintings that emerged in the 1930s: paintings that celebrate modernity by incorporating into the “traditional” pictorial field of Japanese-style paintings essentially modern subjects, most prominently modern girls (moga). These paintings were executed in the post-expressionist style of international modernism informed by machine-age aesthetics of reproducibility and standardization, exemplified by American machine art, Le Corbusier’s rationalism, Bauhaus, and Art Deco.[47] Many of the paintings portrayed objects such as telescopes, mass-produced chairs, and cars that were (somewhat problematically) called “machines” in the 1934 Machine Art Exhibition at MoMA. Tea Room, produced in 1936 by Saeki Shunkō, exemplifies such “machine-ist paintings” (fig. 9).[48] It depicts two café waitresses with bobbed hair, wearing identical Western-style uniforms, their jackets and skirts in dark yet primary colors of red, blue, and yellow. They face the viewer, standing side by side in front of a bar counter and holding a stainless steel tray. Next to them are a white concrete pedestal and an aluminum shelf that neatly holds variously shaped green cacti in separate vessels. The floor’s diamond motif, the angular edges of the plants, and the round surfaces of the waitresses’ faces and skirts add geometric harmony to the picture and signal the artist’s interest in modernist aesthetics.

It was such “machine-ist” paintings of the mid 1930s, I would argue, that made Yasuda turn to Kamakura-period yamato-e paintings. Put another way, the prevalence of machine aesthetics led Yasuda to reevaluate a certain type of pre-modern Japanese art—yamato-e—that shares a visual vocabulary with “machine-ist” paintings: large negative spaces, two dimensionality, and strong linearity. Yasuda’s painting shares such pictorial language with Saeki’s painting, which was produced only four years earlier. Commonalities include the large, dominating, unpainted space; the flat, broad application of saturated vivid colors like yellow, red, orange and green that do not use much gradation; and the interest in geometric patterns and linearity, with the space in both paintings appearing regimented and geometrically organized. Certainly, as I described above, The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa draws on the composition and color of Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion. Yet, Yasuda’s work is much cleaner, uses perfectly straight lines (for the arrows and mattress, for example) and applies colors in such a way that they stand out.[49] In the Mongol Invasion scroll, the figures look more animated and appear to be having a conversation; by contrast, in Yasuda’s painting, the brothers look completely still, even frozen, like the girls in Saeki’s work.

Yasuda left no statement about how the modernist aesthetics of the 1930s influenced The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa, and it is likely that he would not have wanted to associate his painting with “the modern,” which was equated with “the West,” when it was intended to be about “Japan.” However, Japanese-style painters in the late 1930s had already pointed out the stylistic compatibility between modern, geometric abstraction of machine aesthetics and certain pre-modern Japanese art. Among them was Fukuda Toyoshirō (1904-1970), a Japanese-style painter who called for the establishment of a “New Japanese-style Painting” (Shin Nihonga) that would transcend the boundary between Western-style and Japanese-style paintings. In his 1937 writings, he tries to bridge machine aesthetics and traditional Japanese art:

When I think of the spirit of Japanese-style painting, I think of planes and modern weapons. When we think of the plane as the most representative form of modern beauty, it strikes me that it is born out of highly developed technology but it also has the beauty of symmetry and simplicity in form. Superior beauty refers to formal simplification that removes unnecessary parts for the sake of pure art. I feel that we have to make use of commonality between the artist’s sublime intuition and modern scientific principle in New Japanese-style Painting. The greatness of art by Sōtatsu, Kōrin, Sanraku, Eitoku lies in their expressions of strict simplification that pursue truth of nature…We must learn from classical art (koten).[50]

Fukuda here clearly highlights the commonality between machine aesthetics and traditional Japanese art, more specifically, the Rimpa and Kanō schools, the major art schools that flourished between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Fukuda was not the only painter who theorized an affinity between modern art and traditional Japanese aesthetics, however. Specifically focusing on modern abstraction, Hasegawa Saburō (1906-1957), a Western-style painter, points out that there are examples of geometric abstraction found in everyday life in Japan: origami papers are perfectly square, ayatori (string figures) form geometric shapes, and hopscotch (ishikeri) requires the drawing of circles.[51] Hasegawa reminds the reader that European modernism was itself inspired by Japanese culture: Le Corbusier’s urban city plan draws on Heiankyō (the Heian capital in Kyoto), built in the eighth century, which was a square city laid out in the grid fashion; Bruno Taut (1880-1938), a Bauhaus artist who fled from the Nazis and stayed in Japan from 1933 to 1936, also praised Japanese shrines, tea houses, and gardens from the perspective of modern architectural principles.[52]

Taut was in fact the most important figure in 1930s Japan to point to the idea that Japanese traditional aesthetics are already and perfectly “modern.” In his book The Rediscovery of Japanese Beauty, published after his death, he writes about how he found the Bauhaus aesthetic principle in Japanese pre-modern architecture, Ise Shrine and Katsura Rikyū in particular, and argues that Japanese traditional art is not incompatible with such concepts as rationality, simplicity, and functionality.[53] He states, “The taste for purity and simplicity in Japanese culture is exactly the same as our modern concepts . . . Japan has beautiful techniques and beautiful materials such as bamboo, metal, wood, lacquer, textile, pottery . . . It is not so difficult to create things both modern as well as quintessentially Japanese.”[54] Taut’s understanding of a certain tradition of Japanese art as “modern” fundamentally changed the way in which Japanese artists understood traditional works of the country. Previously, especially during the Meiji period, Western-style meant European academic style, which was often in conflict with things “Japanese”; by contrast, modernism could be brought in dialogue with certain aspects Japanese aesthetics and contribute to the creation of essentially “Japanese” art. For Japanese artists, post-expressionist modernism offered a style that had both been already recognized internationally and looked perfectly “Japanese.”

Tange Kenzō, Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Memorial Hall, 1942
Fig. 10. Tange Kenzō, Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Memorial Hall, 1942. Kenchiku zasshi, December 1942.

The union of international modernism and Japanese traditional art was best realized by wartime architecture, as exemplified by the 1942 prizewinning design of Tange Kenzō (fig. 10).[55] For a competition to commemorate the founding of the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Tange designed a concrete shrine (never built, because of the war) to be built at the bottom of Mount Fuji; it was closely based on Ise Shrine, the most important shrine in Japan, which houses the spirit of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. The design, with two identical square buildings either side of a main trapezoidal building, certainly reminds us of Ise Shrine, which also has two identical structures side by side for the purpose of shikinen sengu (transferring the god-body to a new shrine).[56] Like Ise Shrine, Tange’s design is simple, unpretentious, and primal. It is clear, however, that it also draws on Le Corbusier’s rationalism, which strips off unnecessary ornamentation and emphasizes straight lines and symmetry. As Jacqueline Eve Kestenbaum succinctly articulates, Tange “embodied modern principles (simplicity, clarity, lack of ornamentation—all the virtues Taut had recognized in Ise and Katsura. . . .)”[57]

Such a “Japanization” of modernist aesthetics is precisely what we see in Yasuda’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa. As I have shown, Yasuda’s work employs modernist aesthetics, although they might not have been acknowledged as such either by the artist or by the public when the painting was released in the early 1940s. Camp at Kisegawa, produced under close state scrutiny, not only communicates the ideal of Japan’s pre-modern tradition but also was executed in a modernist visual language—thus linked, as I have argued, to the state ideology, which paradoxically both denounced and espoused modernity, and thus understandable as the art of Japanese fascism.

Camp at Kisegawa is an ideologically loaded work that cannot be discussed separately from the political discourse in Japan during the Second World War. Yet given the painting’s modernist form, it is also clearly linked to the phenomenon of “fascist modernism,” the appropriation of modernist aesthetics under a fascist regime. Fascist modernism has now been quite extensively researched in the European context by Mark Antliff, Jeffrey Schnapp, Emily Braun, Diane Y. Ghirardo, Ian Boyd Whyte, Terri J. Gordon, Winfried Nerdinger, and John Heskett and others who have observed the “modernist dimension of fascism’s cultural politics” (emphasis original), challenging the conventionally accepted view that modernist aesthetics were oppressed and eradicated when fascism came into power.[58] Yasuda’s painting, which is clearly a Japanese example of fascist modernism, warns us not to automatically equate modernist aesthetics with what is typically considered as modernist politics in the history of Japanese art.

Yet Yasuda’s is hardly a singular example. The long story about the Japanese art of fascist modernism is not complete without a discussion of how the Japanese state also coopted New Classicism.[59] Departing from previous avant-garde practices that explored the new and the original, New Classicism, begun in the 1920s, displayed interest in classical subjects, most prominently Greco-Roman antiquity, and expressed artists’ desire to “return to order” after the chaos of the Great War. Writing about Georgio de Chirico’s New Classicist phase, art historian Emily Braun writes:

elements of antiquity and modern industry meet in an illogical world without spatial or temporal coherence...the breaks in continuity and a sense of suspended time reveal the irremediable gap between the present and the past… Even his images of gladiators, nudes, horses on the beach of the following decade, painted at the height of Fascism, parody traditional values…; their flaccid forms and garish colours resolutely refuse to bear the weight of any invested meaning.[60]

This style, however, as Braun indicates, was ultimately accepted and mobilized by the Italian fascist regime in the 1930s; the recent 2011 Guggenheim exhibition Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936, which examines the transformation of New Classicism from avant-garde classicism to fascist propaganda, makes the same point.[61]

Picasso’s New Classicist works were already well-known by Japanese artists in the 1920s: Western-style oil painter Ihara Usaburō (1894-1976) introduced Picasso’s writings and New Classicist works to Japanese audiences.[62] Ihara’s Picasso-inspired paintings prompted a discussion among Japanese artists and art critics in the late 1920s about “classicism” (kotenshugi/kurashikku) and “new classicism” (shin kotenshugi), as they called it, as an alternative to modernism and avant-gardism (shinkō bijutsu).[63] These discussions mark a seminal shift in modern Japanese artistic practices from radical political and cultural rebellions against the status quo to nostalgic allusion to the country’s cultural traditions, albeit with the use of modernist forms.

Japanese artists were also well informed about the later stage of New Classicism that was celebrated by European fascism. Throughout the 1930s and the early 1940s, Japan actively engaged in artistic exchanges with Nazi Germany, and to a lesser extent, with Fascist Italy. In 1937, art critic Uemura Takachiyo (1911-1998) translated Eugène Wernert’s book about Nazi art in the art magazine Atorie in October 1937.[64] The German Embassy and the Japan German Cultural Association brought the infamous Great German Art Exhibition of 1937 to Tokyo in September 1938. After the fall of France in 1940, artists and art critics openly shared their views with the public that Japan should shift its artistic model from that of democratic France to that of totalitarian Fascist Italy and Germany. In their view, German and Italian art employed their national traditions and strove to express characteristics unique to their race.[65]

The Western-style painters such as Ihara were the first to express interest in European New Classicism; however, it was in Japanese-style paintings that New Classicism reached its pinnacle in Japan. Certain Japanese-style paintings from the 1930s and early 1940s were, and are, called “shin kotenshugi,” the term used in the late 1920s to describe Picasso’s New Classicism. Art historian Moriguchi Tari used the word already in 1943, and scholars such as Ōkuma Toshiyuki and Kikuya Yoshio also employ the term today to indicate the influence of European New Classicism on Japanese-style paintings of the 1930s and early 1940s. In fact, Yasuda Yukihiko himself is today known as one of the foremost painters of New Classicism in Japan.[66] That European New Classicism found its most suitable form in Japanese-style paintings in Japan is not surprising, given the medium’s supposed historicity. Naturally, it was Japanese-style paintings, not Western-style paintings, that were introduced to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany as the art of Japan: the 1930 Japan Art Exhibition in Rome included only Japanese-style paintings; an exhibition of contemporary Japanese art that was being planned in the early 1940s in Nazi Germany (never realized) seems also to have been only about Japanese-style paintings.[67]


Although they might not look as propagandistic and problematic as Western-style War Campaign Record Painting such as Miyamoto’s The Meeting of General Yamashita and General Percival, which I described at the beginning of this article, wartime Japanese-style paintings nevertheless ideologically supported the state. The seemingly obscure link between art and politics in the case of Japanese-style painting can be clarified and most productively understood through the concept of fascism rather than, for example, militarism (which only refers to a governing system and military violence) or cultural nationalism, which does not acknowledge the degree to which wartime Japan’s concerns centered on modernity.

Using fascism as an interpretive framework, furthermore, allows us to appropriately situate Japan and the Japanese art of the 1930s and early 1940 in a global context. While the period is characterized by battles among nation-states (and colonies), there were concerns and interest that were shared across continents. As I have shown, Japan had a close connection with the “West” throughout the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, which contributed to the country’s status as a “fully modernized” nation by the 1930s. Japan’s relationship with the Axis Nations (Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany) during the 1930s and early 1940s subsequently strongly impacted the direction of Japanese artistic practices. It was to indicate this global connectedness in the early twentieth century that I used the term Second World War throughout this article to refer to the period between 1931 and 1945, rather than, for example, “Asia-Pacific War,” a term that geographically and theoretically isolates Japan from what was going on in the rest of the world during those years.

Despite the highly politicized function of the Japanese-style paintings, the American occupation officers did not consider them problematic. This is most likely because they are not noticeably different from the traditional Japanese art that the works draw on, and without knowledge of Japan’s domestic discussions about “return to Japan” and war, it is hard to recognize their ideological resonance. Furthermore, these works could not have looked more different from Italian and German fascist art, which unsurprisingly alludes to their “classics”: the perfectly proportioned, muscular nude figures of Greco-Roman classical antiquity. Alternatively, one could also imagine that American officials were reluctant to interrogate Japanese traditions with which the citizens felt deeply connected because they wanted to win support from the Japanese public. This was in fact the reason why the American occupational government did not hold the emperor legally or morally responsible for the war despite his central presence and authority. Tradition, however, played a highly politicized role in wartime Japan. Understanding that Japanese-style paintings such as Yasuda’s Camp at Kisegawa paralleled the ideology of Japanese fascism and supported the state involves careful unpacking of the meaning of both tradition and modernity in political and cultural discourses in Japan and elsewhere in the 1930s and early 1940s.


  1. ^ The Second World War in Japan entails several different military conflicts: Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the Second Sino-Japanese War (Nicchū sensō, 1937-45) and the Pacific War (Taiheiyō sensō, 1941-45).
  2. ^ Asato Ikeda, “Japan’s Haunting War Art: Contested War Memories and Art Museums,” disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory 18 (2009): 5-32.
  3. ^ For a retrospective of the leading Western-style war artist Fujita Tsuguharu, see Asato Ikeda, “Fujita Tsuguharu Retrospective 2006: Resurrection of a Former Official War Painter,” Review of Japanese Culture and Society 21 (2009): 97-115.
  4. ^ Kawata Akihisa, “Sensō-ga towa nanika” (“What Is Sensō-ga?”), Geijutsu Shinchō, August 1995; Tan’o Yasunori and Kawata Akihisa, Imēji no nakano sensō: nisshin, nichiro sensō kara rēsen made (War in Images: From the Sino-Japanese War to the Cold War) (Tokyo: Iwanami, 1996); Bert Winther-Tamaki, “Embodiment/Disembodiment: Japanese Painting During the Fifteen-Year War,” Monumenta Nipponica 52, no. 2 (1997): 145-80; Hariu Ichirō, Sawaragi Noi, Kuraya Mika, Kawata Akihisa, Hirase Reita, and Ōtani Shōgo, eds., Sensō to bijutsu 1937-1945/Art in Wartime Japan 1937-1945 (Tokyo: Kokusho kankōkai, 2007). A significant recent addition to the scholarship is Asato Ikeda, Aya Louisa McDonald, and Ming Tiampo, eds., Art and War in Japan and its Empire: 1931-1960 (Leiden: Brill, 2012). There are a small number of essays on wartime Japanese-style paintings, notably Kitazawa Noriaki, “Modanizumu to sensō-ga: Yokoyama Taikan to iu mondai” (“Modernism and War Paintings: The Problem of Yokoyama Taikan”), Nikkan bijutsu (1994); J. Thomas Rimer, “Encountering Blank Spaces: A Decade of War, 1935-1945,” Nihonga, Transcending the Past: Japanese-Style Painting, 1868-1968, ed. Ellen P. Conant, J. Thomas Rimer, and Steven D. Owyoung (St. Louis: St. Louis Art Museum, 1995); Mimi Hall Yiengprukasawan, “Japanese War Paint: Kawabata Ryūshi and the Emptying of the Modern,” Archives of Asian Art 46 (1993): 76-90.
  5. ^ The term “reactionary modernism” was coined by Jeffrey Herf in Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).
  6. ^ Roger Griffin, “Modernity Under the New Order: The Fascist Project for Managing the Future,” A Fascist Century: Essays by Roger Griffin, ed. Matthew Feldman (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 43.
  7. ^ Winther-Tamaki briefly discusses Western-style paintings in comparison with the art of Nazi Germany in “Embodiment/Disembodiment: Japanese Painting during the Fifteen-Year War.”
  8. ^ Ministry of Education, Kokutai no hongi/ Cardinal Principles of the National Entity of Japan, trans. John Owen Gauntlett (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949 [1937]), 59.
  9. ^ Watsuji Tetsurō (1889-1960), Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945), Kuki Shūzō (1888-1941), Nose Asaji (1894-1955), Hasegawa Nyozekan (1875-1969), and Ōnishi Yoshinori (1888-1959) are representative philosophers who engaged with such a question. Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (1886-1965) and Yasuda Yojūrō (1910-1981), among others, wrote about and attempted to recreate unique Japaneseness in their literature. For more on intellectual and cultural theorization of Japanese uniqueness, see Yumiko Iida, Rethinking Identity in Modern Japan: Nationalism as Aesthetics (London: Routledge, 2002); Leslie Pincus, Authenticating Culture in Imperial Japan: Kuki Shūzō and the Rise of National Aesthetics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, In Praise of Shadows, trans. Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker (New Haven: Leete’s Island Books, 1977 [1933]); Ueda Makoto, “Yūgen and Erhabene: Ōnishi Yoshinori’s Attempt to Synthesize Japanese and Western Aesthetics,” Culture and Identity: Japanese Intellectuals During the Interwar Years, ed. J. Thomas Rimer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990); Alan Tansman, The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).
  10. ^ The symposium was first published in the magazine Bungakkai in 1942 and then as a book in 1943 by Sōgensha. Harry Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 34-94.
  11. ^ For more about the embrace of modernity in the Taishō period, see Elise K. Tipton and John Clark, eds., Being Modern in Japan: Culture and Society from the 1910s to the 1930s (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000).
  12. ^ Andrew Gordon, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 330.
  13. ^ Yamanouchi Yasushi, “Total-War and System Integration: A Methodological Introduction,” Total War and ‘Modernization’, ed. Yasushi Yamanouchi, J. Victor Koschmann, and Ryūichi Narita (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), 3-4. For more on technology and science during the Second World War, see Hiromi Mizuno, Science for the Empire: Scientific Nationalism in Modern Japan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009); Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-first Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
  14. ^ Walter A. Skya, Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shintō Ultranationalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009).
  15. ^ For a fascinating history of how American scholars came to call wartime Japan “militarist” rather than “fascist” in the context of the Cold War and the postwar U.S.-Japan “democratic” alliance, see Gavan McCormack, “Nineteen-Thirties Japan: Fascism?,” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 14, no. 2 (1982): 20-33.
  16. ^ Japanese intellectuals such as Hasegawa Nyozekan, Tosaka Jun, Imanaka Tsugimaro and Gushima Kanesaburō addressed the issue of fascism in Japan as early as in the 1930s. Soviet scholars O. Tanin and E. Yohan’s 1934 book is probably the earliest non-Japanese language book on Japanese fascism, O. Tanin and E. Yohan, Militarism and Fascism in Japan (New York: International Publishers, 1934). Hasegawa Nyozekan, Nihon fashizumu hihan (The Critique of Japanese Fascism) (Tokyo: Ōhata shoten, 1932); Tosaka Jun, Nippon ideologī ron (The Theory of Japanese Ideology) (Tokyo: Hakuyōsha, 1935); Imanaka Tsugimaro and Gushima Kanesaburō, Fashizumu ron (The Theory of Fascism) (Tokyo: Mikasa shobō, 1935).
  17. ^ Maruyama Masao, “The Ideology and Dynamics of Japanese Fascism,” in Thought and Behaviour in Modern Japanese Politics, ed. Ivan Morris (London: Oxford University Press, 1963). For more on postwar scholarship on Japanese fascism, see for the postwar works, Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Kusano ne no fashizumu: Nihon minshū no sensō taiken (Grassroots Fascism: War Experiences of the Japanese Masses) (Tokyo: Tokyo daigaku shuppankai, 1987); Abe Hirozumi, Nihon fashizumu ron (The Theory of Fascism) (Tokyo: Kage shobō, 1996); Akazawa Shirō and Kitagawa Kenzō, eds., Bunka to fashizumu: senjiki Nihon ni okeru bunka no kōbō (Culture and Fascism: The Light of Culture under Wartime Japan) (Tokyo: Nihon keizai hyōron sha, 1993); Fujino Yutaka, Kyōsei sareta kenkō: Nihon fashizumuka no seimei to shintai (Forced Health: Life and Body under Japanese Fascism) (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Hirofumi kan, 2000).
  18. ^ William Miles Fletcher III, The Search for a New Order: Intellectuals and Fascism in Prewar Japan (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982). Another notable work from around this period is Gordon, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan.
  19. ^ George Macklin Wilson, “A New Look at the Problem of ‘Japanese Fascism,’”Comparative Studies in Society and History 10, no. 4 (1968): 401-412; Peter Duus and Daniel I. Okamoto, “Fascism and the History of Pre-War Japan: The Failure of a Concept,” The Journal of Asian Studies 39, no. 1 (1979): 65-76.
  20. ^ The 2009 anthology The Culture of Japanese Fascism, which Tansman edited, includes essays by leading scholars of the field, such as Marilyn Ivy, Kevin Doak, and Kim Brandt, whose work is also informed by the recent fascism studies and who examine wartime intellectual history and cultural movements in relation to the concept of fascism.
  21. ^ George Tiberiu Sipos, The Literature of Political Conversion (Tenkō) of Japan (PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2013).
  22. ^ Thomas R. H. Havens, Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War Two (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978), 77.
  23. ^ For more on state control and censorship, see Ben-Ami Shillony, Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981); Ienaga Saburō, The Pacific War, 1931-1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan’s Role in World War II (New York: Pantheon, 1978).
  24. ^ For a detailed description of the state control of art, see Michael Lucken, “Total Unity in the Mirror of Art,” trans. Francesca Simkin, in Art and War in Japan and its Empire, 79-89.
  25. ^ Maki Kaneko, “Art in the Service of the State: Artistic Production in Japan during the Asia-Pacific War” (PhD. dissertation, University of East Anglia, 2006), 102. 
  26. ^ Nakata Katsunosuke, “Teiten no nihonga” (“The Japanese-style paintings of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition”), Asahi shinbun, February 29, 1936.
  27. ^ Tanaka Hisao, “Nihon bijutsu to ‘teiten sōdō” (“Japanese art and the ‘Teiten incident’”), Nihon bijutsu-in hyakunenshi dai 6 kan (The hundred year history of Nihon Bijutsuin, vol. 6) (Tokyo: Nihon bijutsu-in, 1997), 365.
  28. ^ For more on this, see the magazine Atorie’s special issue on art and the new order “bijutsu to shin taisei,” published in October 1940.
  29. ^ John Clark, “Artistic Subjectivity in the Taishō and Early Shōwa Avant-Garde,” Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky, ed. Alexandra Munroe (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994).
  30. ^ For more on Yokoyama Taikan and his wartime works, see, for example, Kitazawa, Noriaki, “Modanizumu to sensō-ga: Yokoyama Taikan to iu mondai” (“Modernism and War Paintings: The Problem of Yokoyama Taikan”), Nikkan bijutsu, December 1994.The four offering painting exhibitions to which Yasuda submitted works were: Nihon bijutsu in gunyōki kennō dōjin sakuhinten (Japan Art Institute Offering Painting Exhibition) in 1942, Nihongaka hōkokukai gunyō hikōki keno sakuhin-ten (Japanese-style Painter Patriotic Association Offering Painting Exhibition for Battle Planes) in 1942, Zen Nihongaka kennōgaten (All Japanese-style Painter Offering Painting Exhibition) in 1943, Senkan kennō teikoku geijutsuin kaiin bijutsuten (Japan Art Academy Member Offering Painting Exhibition for Battleships) in 1943. Yasuda Yukihiko ten (Yasuda Yukihiko Exhibition) (Nagoya: Aichi Prefectural Museum, 1993), 157-58.
  31. ^ Although art critics already knew the artist’s plan for the two-screen panel in 1940, in that year Yasuda only completed the left panel. Kanzaki Ken’ichi, “Kigen nisen roppyakunen hōsyuku bijutsu ten kōki dai ichibu shōhyō,” (“The Review of The Celebration of the 2600th Anniversary of the Imperial Reign Exhibition”), Tōei, December 1940, 29.
  32. ^ Kanzaki Ken’ichi, “Kigen nisen roppyakunen hōshuku bijutsuten kōki daiichibu shōhyō,” Tōei, 35; Endō Motoo, “Rekishi-ga no gendaiteki igi” (The Contemporary Meanings of History Paintings), Kokuga, April 1943, 5.
  33. ^ Kikuya Yoshio, “Shōwa zenki ni okeru inten to sono hasei dantai to no kankei” (“The Relationship between Inten and Other Art Groups in the Early Showa Period”), Nihon bijutsuin hyakunenshi (A Hundred-Year History of the Japan Art Institute) (Tokyo: Nihon bijutsuin, 1998), 350.
  34. ^ Okazaki Yoshie, “Gendai Nihonga to kokumin sei” (“Contemporary Japanese Style Painting and its National Characteristics”), Kokuga, May 1942, 2-4.
  35. ^ Toward the end of his article, Okazaki’s rhetoric becomes remarkably militaristic. Likening the difference between Japanese and Western artistic systems to fighting strategies, Okazaki writes that the Japanese painting is not a “standard tactic of attack” (seikō hō), but rather a “surprise attack” (kishū sakusen). He states, “If the paintings of trees and birds have the power of koppō, they will lead to the surprise attack’s victory. Western paintings that apply paint all over the canvas will lose their power in front of Japanese art… I feel supernatural power in koppō.” Writing in 1942, Okazaki was referring to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor the year before. 
  36. ^ There are a number of stories about the Dan-no-ura battle in which the brothers appear, such as The Tale of Heike (year unknown, before thirteenth century) and The Tale of Heiji (year unknown, before thirteenth century), but the reunion is not a major event in those stories. Yoritomo and Yoshitsune have also been the subject of numerous traditional noh theater plays and ukiyo-e woodblock prints, but none of these literary and visual works focuses on the cooperation between the brothers either.
  37. ^ John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), 264-66. 
  38. ^ Suzuki Susumu, “Hōshuku bijutsu ten Nihon-ga sōhyō” (“The Review of The Celebration of the 2600th Anniversary of the Imperial Reign Exhibition”), Tōei, December 1940, 25-26; Kanzaki Ken’ichi, “Kigen nisen roppyakunen hōshuku bijutsuten kōki daiichibu shohyō” (“The Review of The Celebration of the 2600th Anniversary of the Imperial Reign Exhibition”) Tōei, December 1940, 35. 
  39. ^ Originally in Kawasaki Katsu, “Hōshuku-ten ni yosu” (“On the Celebration Exhibition”), Tōei, December 1940. Quoted in Maeda Kō, “Senjika ni okeru bijutsu to bijutsu hihyō: Yasuda Yukihiko’s Kisegawa no jin wo chūshin ni” (“Art and Art Criticism during the War: With Focus on Yasuda Yukihiko’s Camp at Kisegawa”), Bijutsu Forum 21 (2006): 80. 
  40. ^ For more on the celebration, see Kenneth J. Ruoff, Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2,600th Anniversary (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010). 
  41. ^ For more on mass rituals in Italy and Germany, see Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); Klaus Vondung, “Spiritual Revolution and Magic: Speculation and Political Action in National Socialism,” The Modern Age 23, no. 4 (1979): 391-402.
  42. ^ Shōwa no bijutsu (Art of the Showa Period), exhibit catalog (Niigata, Japan: Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, 2005), 190.
  43. ^ Kanzaki Ken’ichi, “Kigen nisen roppyakunen hōshuku bijutsuten kōki daiichibu shōhyō,” Tōei, 35. 
  44. ^ My argument is indebted to observations made by two important Japanese art historians, Kikuya Yoshio and Ōkuma Toshiyuki. Kikuya Yoshio, “Shōwa zenki ni okeru inten to sono hasei dantai to no kankei” (“The relationship between Inten and Other Art Groups in the Early Showa Period”), Nihon bijutsuin hyakunenshi (One Hundred Year History of Nihon Bijutsu-in) (Tokyo: Nihon bijutsuin, 1998); Ōkuma Toshiyuki, “Kankaku to kōsei no hazama de: 1930 nendai no Nihonga modanizumu” (“Caught between Senses and Structure: Japanese-style Paintings of the 1930s”), Nihon bijutsuin hyakunenshi, vol 6. (Tokyo: Nihon Bijutsuin, 1996). 
  45. ^ Victoria Weston, Japanese Painting and National Identity: Okakura Tenshin and His Circle (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2004).  
  46. ^ For more on Tsuchida Bakusen, see John D. Szostak, Painting Circles: Tsuchida Bakusen and Nihonga Collectives in Early 20th-Century Japan (Leiden: Brill, 2013).
  47. ^ For the trend of Art Deco in Japan, see Lorna Price and Letitia O’Connor, eds., Taishō Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco (Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2001); Kendall H. Brown, Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013). 
  48. ^ For more on machine-ist paintings of the 1930s, see Asato Ikeda, “Modern Girls and Militarism: Japanese-style Machine-ist Paintings, 1935-1940,” in Art and War in Japan and its Empire.
  49. ^ Here it is useful to bring up the modern movement called Shinkō yamato-e (The New Yamato-e), which was headed by Matsuoka Eikyū and began in 1921. As Nagashima Keiya points out, The New Yamato-e Movement artists, like Iwata Masami, produced works with extensive landscape until the early 1930s, and it was only after Matsuoka’s death in in 1938 that Iwata started creating paintings that prominently feature negative space. This attests that yamato-e research did not necessarily lead to art in the style of yamato-e. Nagashima Keiya, “Taishō, Shōwa senzenki ni okeru Iwata Masami no gafū henka ni tsuite” (“On Artistic Change of Iwata Masami in the Taishō and Early Shōwa Pre-War Period”), The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum Research Bulletin (March 2010): 17-25.
  50. ^ Originally in Fukuda Toyoshirō, “Shin Nihonga no dōkō ni tsuite” (“The Direction of New Japanese-Style Paintings”), Tōei, September 1937. Quoted in Shōji Jun’ichi, “Modanisuto no kikyō: Fukuda Toyoshirō no kaiga shisō to furusato” (“Modernist’s Return to Rural Home: Fukuda Toyoshirō’s Idea of Painting and Rural Home”), Fukuda Toyoshirō ten (The Fukuda Toyoshirō Exhibition) (Akita Museum of Modern Art, 2004), 10.
  51. ^ Hasegawa Saburō, “Zenei bijutsu to tōyō no koten,” Mizue, February 1937. 146-152. 
  52. ^ Between 1940 and 1942, Le Corbusier’s student Charlotte Perriand was also in Japan, working for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. 
  53. ^ Bruno Taut, Nihonbi no saihakken (The Rediscovery of Japanese Beauty), trans. Shinoda Hideo (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1939), 14-15. 
  54. ^ Yuko Kikuchi, Japanese Modernization and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism (London: Routledge, 2004), 99. Originally in Bruno Taut, “Nihon deno watakushi no shigoto” (“My Work in Japan”), Burūno Tauto no Kōgei to Kaiga (Crafts and Paintings by Bruno Taut) (Maebashi: Jōmō shinbunsha, 1992), 4. 
  55. ^ Jonathan M. Reynolds, Maekawa Kunio and the Emergence of Japanese Modernist Architecture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001). 
  56. ^ At Ise Shrine, the main building is rebuilt every twenty years. For this reason, there are two identical sites next to each other. One is in use when the other is being rebuilt. William H. Coaldrake, “Ise Jingu,” Asian Art: An Anthology, ed. Rebecca Brown and Deborah S. Hutton (Oxford: Blackwell: 2006). 
  57. ^ Jacqueline Eve Kestenbaum, “Modernism and Tradition in Japanese Architectural Ideology, 1931-1955,” Ph.D diss. (Columbia University, 1996), 204. 
  58. ^ Mark Antliff, “Fascism, Modernism, and Modernity,” Art Bulletin, 84, no. 1 (2002): 148-169, 149. 
  59. ^ There are diverse practices within modernism around this time: they might have claimed different agendas, but they were also influencing each other, and for that reason, they cannot be clearly separated, especially in visual terms. New Classicism in Europe developed concurrently with machine-ist aesthetics, and therefore they occasionally share visual characteristics. That is also the case in Japan. 
  60. ^ Emily Braun, “Political Rhetoric and Poetic Irony: The Uses of Classicism in the Art of Fascist Italy,” On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910-1930, ed. Elizabeth Cowling and Jennifer Mundy (London: Tate Gallery, 1990), 347.
  61. ^ Kenneth E. Silver, Chaos & Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936 (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2010).
  62. ^ Egawa Yoshihide, “Ihara Usaburō o megutte: seitousa to ishitsu sa to” (“In regard to Ihara Usaburō: Orthodoxy and Unorthodoxy”), Ihara Usaburō: seitan hyakunen o kinen shite (Ihara Usaburō: A Hundred Anniversary) (Tokyo: Meguro Museum, 1994). 
  63. ^ The art magazine Bijutsu shinron, for example, organized special issues on this subject in January 1929 and January 1933. 
  64. ^ Uemura Takachiyo, “Nachisu geijutsu seisaku no zenyō” (“Nazi Art in its Entirety”), Atorie, October 1937. The translated French book here is L’Art dans le III Reich: Une tentative d’esthétique dirigée (Paris: Paul Hartmann, 1936). In addition to statements about Nazi art, a number of photographs of German paintings, sculptures, and architecture were published in the art magazine Bijutsu in August 1944, showing the readers what they actually look like. 
  65. ^ “Furansu bijutsu wa doko e iku” (“Where Will French Art Go?”), Mizue, August 1940; “Kokubō kokka to bijutsu: gaka wa nani o subekika” (“National Defense State and the Fine Arts: What Should Artists Do Now?”), Mizue, January 1941. 
  66. ^ Moriguchi Tari, Bijutsu gojūnen shi (The Fifty Year History of Japanese Art History) (Tokyo: Masu shobō, 1943), 524-526; Kikuya Yoshio, “Shōwa zenki ni okeru inten to sono hasei dantai to no kankei” (“The Relationship between Inten and Other Art Groups in the Early Showa Period”), Nihon bijutsuin hyakunenshi (A Hundred-Year History of the Japan Art Institute) (Tokyo: Nihon bijutsuin, 1998), 350; Ōkuma Toshiyuki, “Kankaku to kōsei no hazama de: 1930 nendai no Nihonga modanizumu” (“Caught between Senses and Structure: Japanese-style Paintings of the 1930s”), Nihon bijutsuin hyakunenshi, vol 6. (Tokyo: Nihon Bijutsuin, 1996). What “shin koten shugi” means in the early twentieth century Japanese art history has not been debated among art historians, however. For more on this discussion, see Nihon ni shinkotenshugi kaiga wa attaka? (Was There New-Classical Painting in Japan?) (Tokyo: Yamatane Museum, 1999)
  67. ^ Western-style paintings, especially War Campaign Record Paintings were never introduced to Germany or Italy. They were displayed, however, in Japan’s colonies. In fact, the collection of 153 war paintings, which was ultimately confiscated by the States, was in Korea when the war ended in August, 1945.