Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Life within the ruins
12020-04-30T18:06:30-04:00Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f352Still Picture Section, National Archives, Modern Military Section, RG-342-FH-A3902.plain2020-09-15T14:35:20-04:001945Japanairraids.org.PicasaPublic domain.David FedmanDF-0021Kandra Polatis4decfc04157f6073c75cc53dcab9d25e87c02133
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12020-04-30T18:05:25-04:00Tokyo Rises8The aftermath of the firebombing of Tokyo.plain2021-06-16T14:57:16-04:0035.6833, 139.7833TōkyōDavid FedmanIshikawa, Kōyō
What emerges from Ishikawa’s photographs is a profound sense of placelessness. As countless other testimonies would attest, survivors found themselves not just homeless but displaced, disoriented, uprooted. If, as Yi Fu Tuan has suggested, place is a “location created by human experiences,” then the places of the Shitamachi had been thoroughly annihilated. Nowhere to be found were the built structures and material reminders of everyday experience (Tuan 1979). Gone were the parks, schools, temples, markets, and homes that anchored individuals to their community. If not for the few standing buildings and smokestacks, many would not have been able to return to their former neighborhoods to search for loved ones. You might say that place was annihilated in the American war room well before it was actually destroyed on the ground. By envisioning urban Japan as singularly military and industrial in composition, war planners denied these social markers a place within Japan’s urban life.
Yet such displacement was not to last forever. While hundreds of thousands had little choice but to seek out refuge with distant relatives, countless others returned to rebuild their lives upon Shitamachi’s lunar landscape. If this underscores the resilience of the human spirit, it also conveys the transcendence and magnetism of place. The homes, neighborhoods, and communities of the low city could and would rise once more, just as they had throughout Tokyo’s long history of conflagration.