If WWII resulted in the brutal dismantling of Japan’s urban spaces, then the recovery effort was a vast re-imagining of local landscapes. Construction projects expanded cities and domesticated rivers, locking national territory into an efficient, corrective brace. The highly successful economic growth policies implemented by the conservative ruling party quickly brought Japan affluence, urban problems, and rampant environmental pollution.
The brilliant triumph of Japan’s “economic miracle” represented a dizzying rise from the poverty and hunger of defeat to the heights of capitalist luxury. By the end of the war, many of Japan’s cities had been reduced to so much rubble and ash. Millions of people had been displaced due to devastating air raids, and food and material shortages were dire. Japan’s economy was in shambles.
Ishigaki Rin, Part Two: Authority and Brutality
(Click here for Part One)
Having graduated from primary school and found employment with the Industrial Bank of Japan in 1934, Ishigaki Rin devoted her free time to poetry, and by her late teens she had participated in the founding of a small poetry journal.
When the 1941 Imperial Proclamation of War on the United States of America and England was promulgated, Ishigaki Rin was 21. In an essay titled “On Life and Writing Poetry”（「詩を書くことと、生きること」）Ishigaki says that her poetry at the time was mostly personal, separated from both her work and society. Her experiences during WWII, however, would instill Ishigaki with a concern that would shape her poetry and writing. In the same essay, she recalls:
Ishigaki Rin was born in Akasaka, Tokyo in 1920, the first child of a firewood and charcoal peddler. At age 4 she lost her mother, who had suffered injuries in the wake of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Although her father remarried just three years later, by age 18 Ishigaki had known three step mothers, and seen the death of a younger sibling.
Just recently I watched the first two installments of the new Ghost in the Shell OVA (titled “Arise”). One of the many great aspects of the new OVAs has been the outstanding musical selection. Today I’d like to introduce two songs (artists) from the series (both EDs) and my translations of the lyrics.
(Image: Bricks with ceramic fragments, Arita, Japan)
While interpreting for some visitors from the USA recently, Miyazawa Kenji’s poem 「雨ニモマケズ」(Strong in the Rain) came up in conversation–as one would expect, they had never heard of it. The poem, which had already been a widely-known perennial favorite in Japan for decades, became almost ubiquitous in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. As simple as the poem is, I decided I would just jot down my own translation. And, having already gone that far, I thought I would also upload said translation here.