The first chapter, the “Basics” or the “Foundations” (基礎篇), describes in detail how, in 1941, the Japanese Navy prepared its preemptive strikes against the United States and the Pacific colonies of the former British Empire.
On the chapter title page is the seamen’s weekly schedule. “Training” is planned for every day of the week; There is neither Saturday nor Sunday, but two Mondays and two Fridays.
Monday: training (訓練) Monday: training (訓練) Tuesday: training (訓練) Wednesday: training (訓練) Thursday: training (訓練) Friday: training (訓練) Friday: intensive training (猛訓練)
The photos in this chapter show the sailors performing daily military tasks, exercising, dining, etc. They also highlight the battleships, military planes, and weapons.
The second chapter, the “Outcome of the War” (戦果篇), presents a panorama of images of Hawaii, Malaya, New Guinea, and other targets in Southeast Asia, shortly after bombing by the Japanese planes. The photos were not intended to be realistic or artistic. Nor do they appear to attempt to “entertain” or “thrill” their audience, as today’s “war pornography” does. Seen from the distant sky, the smoke shrouds the ongoing destruction below.
For the Japanese at the time, these images likely evoked a sense of pride and superiority, and promoted a worship of the Navy, its weapons and machines, and especially of the provider of those weapons: the emperor. These images were meant to “promote unity, suppress individuality, defend hierarchy, and still dissent.” (See “Revolution by Redefinition: Japan’s War without Pictures,” by Julia Adeney Thomas, inVisualizing Fascism.)
In the preface, there are various references to “sound”:
“Breaking the thirty-years’ silence, early in the morning of the eighth day, the Japanese Imperial Navy briskly woke up and raided Pearl Harbor of Hawaii…”
“The spirits of the Japanese Imperial Navy, reinforced by iron-like silence and bloody training, were released, and finally shed a brilliant light above the world.”
“The photos included in this book respond to the emotional cheers (voices) of 100 million Japanese citizens.”
He was Norman Bethune (1890-1939), a “surgeon, communist, humanitarian” from Canada, who volunteered to participate in three foreign wars outside of his home country. His role was not to fight and kill, but to treat the wounded and save lives.
In World War I he was a stretcher bearer of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. In the Spanish Civil War he organized and operated the Canadian Blood Transfusion Service, providing blood to the frontline wounded—an innovative concept that had not been tried before.
In late 1937, at the start of the Second Sino-Japan War, he joined the Communists’ side of the United Front, and was stationed in the Jin-Cha-Ji Border Area. According to his letters and reports, in the area of 130 million residents and 150,000 armed troops, he was the only qualified doctor. He again organized and operated mobile medical units, providing a medical care for the villagers in need, and training local medical staff. He started a medical school, and wrote books with hand-drawn illustrations on how to treat battle wounds. Lacking trained personnel and resources, he reportedly performed 110 operations in 12 days. When surgical gloves became unavailable, he operated bare-handed.
In spite of the challenging circumstances he was in, in his August 1938 report, he wrote:
“It is true I am tired but I don’t think I have been so happy for a long time. I am content. I am doing what I want to do. Why shouldn’t I be happy—see what my riches consist of. First I have important work that fully occupies every minute of my time from 5:30 in the morning to 9 at night. I am needed. More than that—to satisfy my bourgeois vanity—the need for me is expressed…”
He died in November 1939 in a small village near Baoding in Hebei Province. The cause of death was septicemia, caused by an infection from a bare-handed surgery he had performed a few days earlier.
Bethune, or Bai Qiu’en 白求恩, his Chinese name, became one of the national heroes of China for his contributions to the defeat of the Japanese invaders and the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He was posthumously honored and eulogized by Mao Zedong. He became a popular role model during the Cultural Revolution. There are statues of Bethune found in parks, schools, and museums. The Norman Bethune Health Science Center of Jilin University was established to succeed his medical school in the Jin-Cha-Ji Border Region that had been destroyed during the war.
The first poster was printed by the Hebei People’s Publishing House in 1969. The original painting, by Zhang Xin’guo (张辛国, 1926-), is probably from the 1950s while Zhang was working for Hebei People’s Fine Arts Publishing House. The message at the bottom, “Time Is Life” (时间就是生命), is a quote from Lu Xun’s Outsider’s Chat about Written Language (门外文谈) (1934). Why Lu Xun? Lu Xu’s symbolic status as a “doctor” who tried to create a “literature that would minister to the ailing Chinese psyche” is pretty well-known. But what’s the connection between his essay about the Chinese writing system and Bethune? For now, we’d like to reserve this topic for our future researchers.
The second poster was made for a special exhibition at Dongfanghong (East Is Red) Park in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province to commemorate Bethune. Though there is no year of publication or of the event, the poster was likely made sometime between 1968 and 1980. (The park had different names before and after this time period. See 石家庄长安公园.) The text in-between the images of Mao Zedong and Bethune is an excerpt from Mao’s 1939 eulogy:
“A foreigner selflessly took the liberation of the Chinese people as his own mission. What should we call this spirit? This is the spirit of internationalism, and the spirit of Communism. Every member of the Chinese Communist Party should learn from this.”
The most important message that this poster conveys is perhaps the wisdom of Mao, who recognizes the role model. Bethune’s image support that as he humbly looks up to Mao, while holding in his hand On Protracted War, a series of Mao’s speeches from 1938.
Bethune remained relatively unknown in Canada until the early 1970s. Today he is listed among the “100 Canadians in the First World War” on the Library and Archives Canada website. There are multiple biographies, and fictionalized versions of his life, some made into movies and plays. An annual interdisciplinary conference, the Bethune Round Table (BRT), is held to discuss “the challenges of providing accessible, high-quality surgical care to marginalized patients in low-resource settings.”
If interested in learning more about Bethune, check out the biographies, fiction, and plays about him that the Hesburgh Libraries offer. Notre Dame users can also watch a ten-minute documentary that has footage of Bethune in China in 1938-1939.
Two of the posters depict female characters from Cao Xueqin’s Qing novel, The Story of Stone.
Gao Jingbo’s Yi lu chun feng 一路春风 (2019 print of the 1980 original painting) depicts contemporary women of various social backgrounds. The relationship between the woman in urban clothing, and those in typical peasant clothing seems ambiguous. Are the rural women the followers of the city woman? Or are they sending the urban woman off with their best wishes?
In Wei le sheng huo geng mei hao 为了生活更美好 (1980), and in Jiang li mao 讲礼貌 (1981), we see images of contemporary Chinese women in rural and urban environments. One is a mother, content with a child on her back; the other is a teacher, who upon arriving at her work place on her bicycle, is respectfully greeted by a boy and a girl.
The goal of the Catholic Central Bureau (CCB), founded by Archbishop Riberi in 1946, was to ensure that the country’s Catholic missions, which were independently run by various denominations, would communicate a unified message about Catholicism and the Catholic world view to the Chinese intellectuals and youths, who were increasingly being attracted to Communism. The CCB, in an attempt to fight off the image of Catholicism as an imperialist and non-scientific religion, actively translated and published European Catholic materials about social reforms. In June 1951, the Chinese government disabled the CCB’s activities and arrested and imprisoned many of its members.
RBSC has two editions of Tian zhu jiao qian shuo (天主教淺說) or An Introduction to Catholicism, authored/edited by Zhang Jiemei and published by the CCB.
Its first edition (106 pages), published in Beijing in 1948, introduces Catholicism “more frankly and objectively” (更坦白，更客觀的方式) than the existing publications about Catholicism. It begins with the questions: “What is religion?,” and “What is Catholicism?,” and discusses the doctrines, organization, rituals of Catholicism, and the Bible. The sixth edition (156 pages), published in Shanghai in 1951, begins with the question, “What is human?,” addresses evolution theory, and explains the relationship between science and Catholicism. The final page gives the statistics of Catholic faiths by country. An example: Of almost 1.2 billion population in Asia, almost 30 million were Catholic; of the almost 463 million Chinese, approximately 3.5 million were Catholic.
Wong, Yee Ying Bibiana. “The Catholic Central Bureau: A Short-lived Church Authority set up around the Time of the Communist Takeover of China.” Lumen: A Journal of Catholic Studies 5, no. 1 (2017).
The anthology Living Hiroshima: Scenes of A-Bomb Explosion with 378 Photographs Including Scenery of Inland Sea (1948) was planned and published by the Hiroshima Prefectural Tourist Association for the purpose of introducing images of post-war Hiroshima to the world. The production was handled by Bunkasha (formerly Tōhōsha, which had published propaganda materials for the Japanese military during the war). Most of its photos were taken in 1947 by three Bunkasha photographers, two of whom also had formerly worked for Tōhōsha. The anthology also includes photos taken in 1945 by Kimura Ihē, the former head of the Photography Department at Tōhōsha.
Although published under U.S. military censorship during the American Occupation, the anthology is a rare and valuable documentation of the devastation and the recovery of the city from the bombing.
In 2017, RBSC received thirty poster-sized prints (53 x 77 cm) from Grailville, a non-profit Catholic organization in Loveland, Ohio. Little was known about the prints. They were not dated. They contained a copyright statement by the Catholic University of Peking (1925-1952). They were apparently reproductions of Chinese-style paintings and calligraphic messages that illustrated the Bible. They appeared to have been intended for the Chinese audience.
Based on the following two sources, we now assume that these prints are copies of paintings done in Xinxiang, Henan in 1939 by Wang Suda.
According to Atomic Apostle, Thomas M. Megan, S. V. D., Edward J. Wojniak’s biography of the Bishop Megan, who was the Prefect Apostolic of Xinxiang, Henan, Megan, in keeping with contemporary Vatican policy, used native art for Catholic teaching. He visited the Catholic University of Peking, chose Wang Suda among art students, and brought him back to his Xinxiang mission: “Megan himself chose the themes and directed their portrayal. Many a time, Wang Su-Ta was forced to throw away a half-completed picture because it did not measure up to Megan’s ideas and requirements.” (Wojniak, p. 139)
The Bishop gave the original paintings to the Catholic University of Peking. According to an article that appeared in the January 1941 issue of the Christian Family and Our Missions, the University reproduced the paintings in a “six-tone edition.”
“The series comprises thirty-five separate pictures illustrating the Old and New Testaments, the Sacraments and the Ten Commandments. The large size (55×61 cm, or, including the descriptive texts 60×80 cm) will make this series particularly useful for classroom and catechumenate use.” (p. 38)
The Xinxiang series at RBSC, though fewer and smaller in size, are possibly a reprint of the above-mentioned series.
The Xinxiang series is distinctive, and perhaps unique, in comparison to other paintings by Wang, and to paintings by his contemporary Chinese Christian artists.
In one painting, Jesus points at Peter and says, “You are the rock, Peter on which I will build my Church.” Peter, like the Bishop Megan, has a goatee and wears a “simple blue Chinese gown.” The church in the background resembles the “Chinese-style” church that the Bishop had built.
Ancient Japan, samurai warriors, and your casual spider—casual, that is, until nightfall. According to ancient Japanese legend, these ordinary spiders would morph as dark night enveloped the landscape. Menacing pincers, bulging eyes, and even taking on human form to deceive unsuspecting victims—like the samurai in the tale below—these goblin spiders wreaked terror.
Lafcadio Hearn brings this ancient tale, one of many in the Japanese tradition of ghost stories known as kaidan, to English readers. The Goblin Spider is lavishly illustrated in Takejiro Hasegawa’s five-volume set of crepe-paper books. These brightly colored illustrations are hand-printed using wood blocks on textured pages.
Hearn, Lafcadio. The Goblin Spider. Kobunsha’s Japanese Fairy Tale Series. Second series. No. 1. Tokyo: T. Hasegawa, 1899.
Happy Halloween to you and yours from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!
. . . “I cannot,” cried the pilgrim, trembling and clinging;—”I dare not look beneath! Before me and about me there is nothing but skulls of men.”
“And yet, my son,” said the Bodhisattva, laughing softly,—”and yet you do not know of what this mountain is made. . . .”
“A mountain of skulls it is,” responded the Bodhisattva. “But know, my son, that all of them ARE YOUR OWN! Each has at some time been the nest of your dreams and delusions and desires. Not every one of them is the skull of any other being. All,—all without exception,—have been yours, in the billions of your former lives.”
“Fragment,” In Ghostly Japan, 6
This image and warning drawn from mythical Japan resonated all too well with the author, who himself had lived many lives.
Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), born in western Greece on the island of Lefkada, was the son of an Irish military surgeon and a mother native to the Greek island of Kythira. Raised and educated in Ireland, Britain, and France, Hearn emigrated to the United States when he was nineteen, where he held menial jobs before becoming a translator and journalist.
In 1890, Harper’s offered Hearn the opportunity to go to Japan to write about the country’s efforts to modernize. Shortly after arriving, Hearn became enthralled with Japan—the atmosphere, the cities and towns, the magical-looking trees, the temples, the people. He recorded his first impressions in series of essays and, after marrying the daughter of a samurai family, Hearn took the Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo, and immersed himself in the culture of old Japan, looking for the “roots” of his beloved new home.
A newspaper reporter suddenly made professor, Hearn was appointed in 1895 as Chair of English literature at the Imperial University of Tokyo. During the next eight years, Hearn authored four works that reveal his deep understanding of and immersion in Japanese culture, religion, and literature. These works included Exotics and Retrospectives (1898), Shadowings (1900), A Japanese Miscellany (1901), and the book featured here, In Ghostly Japan (1899).
Published in succession from 1944 to 1946, this collection of 10 pamphlets was produced by the Republic of China’s Ministry of Information’s United Kingdom Office. Together they offer an interesting perspective on the Chinese Nationalist (Guomindang) government’s information campaign outside of China during the 1940s.
The pamphlets cover a wide range of topics on China and are intended for different audiences. The first, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth works in the collection discuss history, classics, art, education and philosophy and were designed for the general public. The second pamphlet, produced for British military and diplomatic personnel during World War II, gave them a general overview of the geography of China.
Remaining pamphlets introduce readers to the situation of China immediately following World War II. The third pamphlet, on the Guomindang, gives a general discussion of the history of China’s governing party at the time. It describes the party’s ideology, political agendas and brought readers up to date on the Guomindang’s conflicts with the Chinese Communist Party, which had led to civil war during the 1940s. Pamphlet four, discussing agriculture in China, assesses the reason behind the country’s poverty. It argues that China’s rural masses can only be uplifted from poverty through gradual measures such as tax reform, improved agricultural methods and industrialization. The sixth pamphlet gives an overview of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives, a program that encouraged and provided assistance to small scale rural industrial enterprises in the country. Started by a group of Chinese and foreign benefactors in World War II, the program was supported by the Guomindang and was seen as a way to both economically sustain the country during wartime and offer employment for idle rural inhabitants and refugees.
The pamphlets in general were created for an educated audience, with good knowledge of western high culture, geography and economic issues. Due to this they were written with remarkable sophistication. The works were authored by a variety of experts on China, both within and outside of the country, including Neville Whymant, a well-known British oriental scholar at the time, Lu Guangmian (卢广绵), a founder of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and Wu Yuanli (吴元黎), a respected Chinese economist. Works on Chinese history and philosophy, though brief, attempt to stimulate intellectual curiosity towards China. They introduce readers to sources on classical China and draw their conclusions on Chinese civilization from a variety of scholarly resources. Such works also contain useful guides for understanding China, such as charts on Chinese dynasties, reign dates of Chinese emperors since 1368 and diagrams of Buddhist and Daoist symbols (See photos). Pamphlets also compare important events in Chinese history with developments in the West and differences and similarities between classical Chinese and Greek philosophy.
Pamphlets on contemporary China were produced with propaganda purposes in mind. They promoted the Guomindang’s view that China’s problems must be resolved by gradual reforms as opposed to the Communist agenda of radically changing the country through class revolution and redistribution of property and encouraged foreign assistance with Guomindang programs. However, to appeal to their specific audience the pamphlets took an approach of explaining issues through selected facts rather than slogans and moral exhortation. They discuss matters such as poverty and industrial development in China to great length, often citing statistics and other information from independent studies.
Information campaigns between the Guomindang and Chinese Communists towards foreigners during the 1940s are an important part of the history Sino-western relations. To some degree the Chinese Communists successfully swayed foreign opinion to their side in 1949, and their seizure of the country that year led to many discussions among foreigners on whether they were deceived or “lost” China due to their poor knowledge of the situation of the country. Pamphlets in the collection are a small piece of the Guomindang’s foreign outreach, and they offer insights on the party’s approach towards foreigners during the period.