In 1964, 44 percent of households owned a camera, and the primary user of these millions of cameras was, in nearly all cases, a man (Economic and Social Research Institute). This moment in history was also marked by the spread of the moniker “cameraman father” (otōsan kameraman). The gendering of the person behind the camera piggybacked on the already gendered patterns of consumption of stuff and information in amateur photography; photography magazines habitually appeared to address the male reader and snapper. Beyond consumption, the label also divided family space time by whether it was suitable for a father or mother photographer. While the “Mama no kamera kyōshitsu” column in Yoiko magazine (running from 1962-1970) called on women to snap away at the tea table, when the family camera was outside the home at school sports days and formal ceremonies, experts and satirists expected it to be wielded by a father. Isao is an excellent example of this imaginary man in action as the following page from Album 1 shows.
One winter’s day around 1948, Isao and Haruki visited the grounds of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery. The trip would have taken between thirty minutes to an hour from the eastern suburbs they called home. As the family did not own a car until 1952, they probably took public transport. Haruki packed a small duffle bag, wore the hat from his school uniform pulled low around his brow, and fastened his coat all the way to the top button to stop the cold from getting in. The only thing we know that Isao packed was his camera. Isao devoted one full page of the album to eight photographs from this day trip. Additional photographs appear later in the album and extend the narrative to include a visit to Hibiya Park, with its trees bare, and a trip through Ginza Crossing to gawk at the traffic controllers stranded on their concrete islands.
What is clear from this example is how the photographic moment carved out time together for fathers and their children and emphatically did so outside the home—the otōsan kameraman was an outdoor apparition. The photographs may show where they went and what they saw, but they also create a new point of access into a way fathers participated in childrearing. For Isao, the photograph was a way to experience and perform his identity as father, and the photograph album was one of the ways he labelled himself as such. Across the album captions, Isao refers to himself as “Isao,” “Yajima,” “father” (otōsan), and “papa” (papa); photography was perhaps the only way to reconcile each of these identities with the identity of a working man. For Isao, and perhaps many other postwar men, photography was instrumental in providing a sanctioned space in which to blend family with his world beyond the doorstep.
As Isao’s day trip with Haruki begins to show, the practice of family photography also turned fathering and the family unit into a transportable public spectacle. In contrast, it was mothers who, when the camera was turned inward towards the home, were targeted by manufacturers and experts to turn their daily life into something aesthetic, public, consumable, and productive. Although the single album page “Around Gaien” radically suggested that the Yajima family was not always somewhere Eiko was present, it still preserved the home as a space marked by Isao’s absence.
Source: Economic and Social Research Institute, Cabinet Office. “Percentage of Households Possessing Major Durable Goods—All Japan (1959-2004).”
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media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg
media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg
One Family’s Photographs (1941-66)
This module begins at the moment a photograph was taken in January 1941. It is in this image that we are introduced to Yajima Isao and his new bride, Eiko. They are sitting in the grounds of what was, probably, their honeymoon hotel, the Atami Ocean Hotel (Atami taiyō hoteru). The pair pose in view of the grand entrance despite the bubbling activity behind them where another photograph is taking place and a bathing towel dries on the bushes.
Isao almost certainly took the picture himself. After having chosen a suitable spot, with favourable lighting and the backdrop of the hotel’s entrance, he probably mounted the camera on its tripod, set the timer, and then ran back to his seat. While the honeymoon was the start of their family life—Eiko was either pregnant or soon would be—this photograph commenced their visual life together in which Isao would soon assume the new role of father-photographer (otōsan kameraman) and make a shift in physical and emotional geography to a place behind the camera. By happenstance or overwhelming ordinariness, the role of father-photographer is previewed behind the posing couple. Look closely and you'll see that a man—a father perhaps—sits with his camera in hand while another supervises the child-subject of the photograph attempt to climb the steps of a slide ready for her photographic moment.
This image is the foundation stone for the this module. It gives us a date, a place and two faces, and it begins our story that orbits around Yajima Isao. Born in 1913, Isao was a proud dentist, regular smoker, amateur golfer, keen traveller, car enthusiast, and occasional dancer. Starting in the 1940s and coinciding with the start of his own family, he began work on the first of three photograph albums. Over the sixteen years that followed he assembled hundreds of photographs across three photograph albums. The albums blend the many Isaos and the spaces he moved through to create the appearance of a coherent self, complete with family, possessions and freedom of movement. Much like the photo above, Isao appears to have taken most of the photos himself and after sticking them carefully into the pages, he narrated them with occasional and succinct captions.
Despite this module and the albums orbiting around Isao, he is often absent from the final photographs, especially those which feature his family. This is simply because he was taking the photograph. Perhaps Eiko and the children were not avid, interested or able photographers, but within a historical context where men’s absence from the home (and presence at work) is widely accepted to have been expected if not lauded, Isao’s images connect to a wider scholarly and cultural narrative—which still plays out in households around the world today—in which male absence from the home is connected to his success (DasGupta 2012).
With access to an astonishing selection of photographs from nearly three decades of family life, this module tracks the movements Isao made in and around his camera to produce a visual archive of where he was, and where he was not always visible.
How this module works
This module is based on three consecutive family albums. Here we will call them Album 1, 2 and 3. As historical sources they are made for touching and gazing, suspended between what Kathleen Canning describes as “narrativity and materiality” (Canning 2006). The albums themselves are made of cardboard, velvet, and cardstock—they are heavy to hold, and smell of dust and damp. They are well-kept, and in flaking paper and faded faces, bear traces of time, as well as bodily traces of their maker in his handwriting, nicknames, even the whirling sepia fingerprints on pressed-down corners.
This module cuts four pathways through the albums.
- Snappy Family is the first and it introduces the wider historical context on how photography was not only cultivated as an “ideal family pastime” (Ross 2015) but how its practice became gendered through the spaces in which taking photos happened. The remaining three pathways take each album in turn.
- Album 1 follows Isao's transition from dental student and newlywed, to father and tracks his movement to a place behind the camera.
- Album 2 while ostensibly a story of the places the Yajimas went on holiday, tracks the disappearance of his teenage children from his photographs and asks what, exactly, is worth taking pictures of.
- Album 3 is all about Isao's extensive car collection and this pathway explores how the photograph enabled him to enjoy and document his “car fever” and his financial success. The car also worked to summon Isao back in front of the camera. The swapping of bouncing baby for a gleaming car bonnet is significant because while Isao is visually absent as a father when photos are taken of the children because he is behind the camera, in his status as a car owner he readily moves in front of the lens.
The images in this module are part of a personal collection. Please read the Note on Ethics before continuing.
Click here for a list of references for this module, which is also available from the module's Conclusion page.
media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg
The rules the Yajima albums play by
This page begins all three album pathways. It does this to emphasise the aesthetic, personal and spatial connections between the three volumes.
Isao's albums are largely chronological, they also create a version of Yajima family life that is distilled through concentrating on certain spaces. Aside from the touchable, foxed pages of the albums themselves, a viewer of the family albums comes to know their curated life through the time they spent outside the home. On the few occasions the home was photographed, it was nearly always its threshold spaces of doorstep, window, veranda or garden that were captured to speak for the home as a place the Yajimas were. Isao made this choice consistently across the albums and in his images of both Yajima homes. In contrast, when the family were away from home—staying at hotels or with friends—the inner rooms were eagerly captured as seen in the photograph below from Isao and Eiko's 1961 trip to Atami.
Why did Isao take and keep so few images from inside the Yajima home? It may have been a question of aesthetic consistency with the outside of the house offering a consistent backdrop. Practically it could have been that the house interior was too dark to get a good photo—but as there are a few photographs taken indoors particularly when the children were newborns, we know a indoor snaps were possible. There may have been a performative element at play, with Isao wanting to be seen outside with his camera in his status as otōsan kamerman. Whatever the motivation behind the choice not to include many images of the home in these albums, the result is that the domestic interior emerges as a subject through its absence. As Isao ran the family dental practice from within the structure of his home for most of his professional life, the invisibility of the domestic space in the albums is not explained by his sustained physical absence at a place of work distant from his home. Instead, the invisibility of the home suggests both what Isao thought photography was for and where he thought it should happen. Like most otōsan kamerman taking pictures of his family was part of a public performance rather than a private practice, and a way in which he enjoyed himself. The content in albums 1, 2 and 3 reflect this.
The photo reel below tracks how Isao used threshold spaces across all three albums to speak for his home. Looking across them, observe the differences between how and where Isao and Eiko pose; while Isao is always external to the house almost like a sentinel, Eiko is occasionally captured from the inside, looking out—transforming Isao momentarily into a domestic voyeur. It might be tempting to wonder whether the spaces in which his photos were taken represented the limits—geographic and emotional—of where his fathering happened. Instead this module argues that the distance between himself and his home visible in his photographs signifies where the findable parts of his fathering happened. The recurrence of threshold images in the albums also suggests that the family home becomes visible through his separation from it; much like the snaps of his car in Album 3, his physical removal from the home was an act of class and status—he had time and wealth enough for spending time outside with his family through camera clicks and day trips.
Without a visual grasp on the interior life of the Yajima home, the albums testify to the existence but not the details of the Yajima home as a material and inhabited space. The pages are sun-bleached, curled with the memory of moisture and some images carry sticky fingerprints. While albums are neither rooms nor passing places between them, the linear stacking of images on a page and in a volume succeeds in conjures a feeling of architecture and the movement between inside and out. Isao deftly shows this on an early page in the first album where he pasted three sequential studio portraits of himself in a loose circle around a photograph of the family dental practice.
This is not just a record of ageing and place, but a visual playing out of connections between individuals, space and identity. It is as if the hereditary pull of the family practice took paper form, but Isao was kept somehow at its periphery. As much as the taking of a photograph created a space between subject and photographer, between threshold and beyond, the sticking and cutting of making an album also created a domestic space and its archive.
Reorienting Our Scholarship
Guided Tour (4)
David R. Ambaras
Bodies and Structures 2.0 allows us as scholars and students to take ownership of our maps. As we wrote in an earlier essay, “The map is not a given. We map, and in doing so we produce knowledge. But we also produce fictions, and elisions. Ownership entails the responsibility to map in ways that align with the ethics of our scholarship” (Ambaras et al. 2019).
Owning our maps leads to ontological and epistemological “so whats” and “takeaways.” The first contribution of Bodies and Structures 2.0 is ontological. The critical geographic and spatial humanistic theory that helped us to frame this project has been in development for over forty years. We are, in other words, not the first to recognize the need for multivocal mapping, for liberating the map, and for provincializing cartographic rationalities (Corrigan 2015; Pearson and Shanks 2014; Pickles 2012; Winichakul 1997; Certeau 1984). What Bodies and Structures 2.0 offers is the visceral experience of multivocal mapping—the ability to encounter and analyze historical experiences in multiple spatialities, with frameworks provided by our editorial collective and / or that readers supply via the Lenses tool. In the words of John Corrigan, the site’s collaborative design “fosters intersections in research” and “complicate[s] the stories we can tell.” It provides students, scholars, and teachers a way of approaching the past that “leverages the open-endedness and the polyvocality of spatial humanities and the often surprising insights derived from that enterprise to create narratives that are more inclusive, that bridge gaps, that challenge familiar categories of space and time as historical constructs that privilege some voices and marginalize others” (Corrigan 2021). Bodies and Structures 2.0 uses collaboration and digital methods to demonstrate not just the rich possibilities that multivocal mapping offers, but also the essential need to write and think in ways that presume the multivocality of space and place.
Essential Situatedness: From Critique to Structure
Bodies and Structures 2.0 invites readers to stand certain in the essential situatedness of knowledge and experience about space and place. It asks scholars to attend not to the question of “what” is space and place, but rather “whose space” and “on what terms?” It precludes metonymies of scale—allowing a history of one province, one individual, or one culture to stand in for the whole. Instead, it posits a deep map of modern East Asia that both spans the entire globe and renders such a universalized spatiality impossible.
As in the case of our critiques of cartographic rationality, we are not the first to suggest that the borders of “Asia” or “modern East Asia” are porous, that the spatial experience of Asia is always emergent, or that the meaning ascribed to the regional framework has more to do with geopolitics than lived histories (see, e.g., Tagliacozzo, Siu, and Perdue 2015a, 2015b, and 2019; Ho 2017; Duara 2010; Lewis and Wigen 1997). Bodies and Structures provides a research environment in which these insights are the foundation, rather than the critique. For example, the site does not gather its many cartographic images under a tag called “Maps.” Instead, the site uses the tag “Mapping” to place cartographic representations and regionalizations within a melange of ways in which historical actors have made spatial differences meaningful. Bodies and Structures conducts a mapping operation that is less about identifying parcels of absolute space or plotting specific steps in an itinerary, and more about cognitively reframing our perception of the rhetorics and technologies used to produce modern East Asia as a certain kind of space amenable to specific operations of power. Mapping includes many examples of historical cartography (e.g., “Cartographies of Northern Vietnam”; “Aerial Innovations in Mapping”; “Surveying Empire”; “Capital Punishment”). But it also includes the practice of ascribing higher artistic value to the works of artists in Japan's inner territories in contrast to those of “settler-artists” working in colonized territories (“Model Works”), the construction of the Lingquan Temple in Taiwan as a site of fusion between Chinese and Japanese Buddhism (“The Lingquan Temple: Taiwanese Buddhism”), and a Chinese lithograph that visualizes the future and traces its passage from Paris to London to Shanghai (“The Trottoir Roulant”). We know that the cartographic map occludes in order to illuminate. “Mapping” illuminates and then asks what else we need to include.
Through its visualizations, tags, and opportunities for nonlinear reading, Bodies and Structures enables users to read across places and, in so doing, shift from thinking about map as a noun to thinking about mapping as always already a verb. In a similar fashion, Bodies and Structures 2.0 approaches “scale” as an act of situated knowledge making and human action rather than a matter of absolute geometry. By putting the tag “media” onto a cartographic map (via the Lenses tool), for example, we can consider how representations and imaginative geographies operating in a given locality might be connected to others. Rendering the same tag relationships as a list affords a different possibility for visualizing the site’s contents, in this case suggesting the different ways and scales at which spatial processes were constituted and experienced: e.g., from the air, on the printed page, and in gendered, embodied movements that included the consumption and manipulation of new material objects and technologies.
The coexistence or simultaneity of different ways of constituting and experiencing space and time underscores the need to approach scale critically when deep-mapping modern East Asian history. Used without reflecting on the rationality that produces it, scale naturalizes particular spatial structures (e.g., local, regional, national, and international; or micro, meso, and macro) as space itself (see, e.g., Howitt 1998). Multiple scales—if they are constituted within the same, unspoken rationality—do not necessarily produce a critical spatial history. In contrast, Bodies and Structures 2.0 uses the tag “Rationalities” to highlight the logics of space and time that distinguish one spatiality from another. Though they exist in the same time and place, the spatio-temporality of a spatial structure governed by a “vital rationality,” for example, differs significantly from one governed by a “territorial rationality.” In the former, the time that a given living being can survive determines distance, including the meaning of adjectives such as “near” and “far.” In the latter, the ability of the bureaucratic and social structures of the state to demarcate and manage territorial boundaries determines the difference between “here” and “there” or “domestic” and “foreign.” Significantly, the difference between rationalities is not necessarily one that can be defined through comparisons within categories. Instead, Rationalities shows that different spatial logics define space and time by prioritizing completely different categories.
Rationalities suggests that scales are worth analyzing as historical phenomena in their own right. Here, for example, Peter Thilly’s comparison of the spatial logic of Qing regional administration and that of the Jardine-Matheson opium network is instructive. Both coexist in the same locale, the same time and place. Yet both produce very different spatio-temporalities and concepts of scale. Likewise, Sakura Christmas and Michitake Aso show how scale in the history of “aerial zones” is made up of non-overlapping layers of knowledge, history, media, topography, and political networks. Each scale enables or constrains the ability of aerial photographers, in Christmas’s example, or Viet Minh anti-biological warfare activists, in Aso’s example, to achieve their goals. In her analysis of the oral histories of Okinawan migrants to Taiwan, Hiroko Matsuda shows how these “liminal” actors produced their own scalar relationships through a combination of topographical, network, territorial, and market rationalities, even as their physical and social locations were shaped by the scalar politics of metropolitan bureaucrats, sugar capitalists, and other actors. Together, the Bodies and Structures modules show how attention to encounters between and across scales generates grounded and situated analyses that bring the spatiality of “modern East Asian history” to life on as many terms as there are histories.
Conceptual Deep-Maps: “East Asia” in Multivocal Space
Deep-mapping East Asia, or any region, requires taking ownership of our maps by recognizing the inherent multivocality of space and mapping our analyses within that multivocal space and its situated relationships of scale. Bodies and Structures 2.0 shows that such multivocal analysis produces spatial histories that push far beyond the traditional objects of spatial historical analysis. “East Asia” in multivocal space is an East Asia whose imaginative geographies and practices of orientation unfold in everyday objects as much as they manifest in maps, networks, and geopolitical articulations of region and culture. Library and exhibition catalogues, department store magazines, legal documents, medical devices, family albums, oral histories, and temple and community festivals reveal the mutual constitutions of space and place in the everyday and the extraordinary, the mundane and the liminal. In Emily Chapman’s module, Yajima Isao’s photography reveals how Yajima used space, place, and mobility to articulate his senses of masculinity, domesticity, agency, and selfhood. Weiting Guo shows how the inhabitants of the city of Wenzhou oriented their daily lives and senses of self by the city’s waterways. As Guo shows, the water oriented social life along non-overlapping spatialities of topography, geopolitics, lineage networks, imaginative geographies, and market. To write about Wenzhou, then, means to grapple with the multiple, coeval spatial sensibilities that intersect in everyday interactions, generate conflict, and structure social time. Likewise, as Maren Ehlers shows, it is fundamentally impossible to understand the history of smallpox vaccinations in early modern Japan without untangling the spatial structures that governed social relations. At the same time, attention to these structures reveals how important working with the particular territorial rationality of warrior rule was to early public health actors. Kasahara Ryō and other doctors did not merely operate within prevailing spatial structures. They used and adapted status boundaries, territorial jurisdictions, and imaginative geographies of center and periphery to accomplish their vaccination goals—all while contending with the demands of a vaccine/virus that required the presence of specific human bodies in specific places at specific times, even as weather and other environmental conditions threw up challenges to such movement.
In individual modules and through our method of reading across places, Bodies and Structures connects spatial structures to lived histories and specific localities: dialectically, as in a place-space relationship; via juxtapositions within spatial concepts and the space of the site; and analytically, through the tracing of multiple itineraries and routes along which people, things, and ideas circulated. Combining these forms of connection yields new approaches to classic concepts in the history of East Asia. For example, one can read across several modules to observe permutations in the spatial structure often referred to as the Sinosphere. Nathaniel Isaacson suggests how images of real and imagined trains and railroads reveal “a Sinosphere in flux—a hybridized landscape transformed by the presence of western technologies and epistemologies,” in which “the railroad running through the landscape symbolizes an era of change in the Sinosphere from the imperial center of a pax sinica, to one state among many.” Shellen Wu also offers an account of a Sinosphere in flux, as Republican officials sought to reconstitute territorial space via the internalization of global discourses of “the frontier” and the physical and imaginative domestication of Mongolia. Focusing on peddlers and migration, David Ambaras suggests that the Sinosphere continued to operate as a networked space that intersected with and adapted to the new territorial formations of the modern international system in the region. The endurance of the Sinosphere can also be seen in Mitch Aso’s account of North Vietnamese sociopolitical and scientific framings of the threat of biological warfare: while the Cold War radically transformed frameworks of international relations in East Asia, China remained an ideational and political hub for Việt Minh leaders, who “envisioned Vietnam rejoining a recreated Sinosphere world, this time linked not by Confucian culture but by communist party rule.”
The production of modern East Asia as globally networked space can also be seen in our module builders’ work on capital flows and the fixing of commodity exchanges in specific localities and sites. Peter Thilly’s project on the opium trade in 1830s Fujian, with its connection to both the Jardine Matheson network and to Qing lineage, exchange, and administrative systems, offers one window into this process of reconfiguration—one that is perfectly complemented by Tim Yang’s treatment of the displacement of the early modern Japanese patent medicine trade by a new kind of drugstore franchise system predicated on an American-style reorganization of urban public space and individual consumer attitudes. Noriko Aso’s module on Mitsukoshi Department Store, meanwhile, shows how new consumer emporia made themselves at home across the Japanese imperium; the glossy magazines she analyzes resonate with Sakura Christmas’s study of Manchurian Airways’ commodification and strategic appropriation of airspace, which for all its abstractions depended on highly localized exchanges of fuel and diplomatic ritual across the Eurasian landmass.
As it deepens our knowledge of classic concepts in the field, thinking dialectically, by juxtaposition, and through connection generates new sensibilities about what constitutes a key spatial concept in modern East Asian history. Concepts such as “pioneer” take on specific meaning and become sites of action in the context of East Asia’s overlapping colonialisms in modules by Evan N. Dawley, Magdalena Kolodziej, and Shellen X. Wu. Likewise, the spatial figure of “the Corporation” emerges as a significant player in the movement of commodities, the articulation of legal and political boundaries, expertise, and the day-to-day operation of colonial power relations in modules by Peter D. Thilly, Noriko Aso, Sakura Christmas, and Timothy Yang. Mitchitake Aso, Maren Ehlers, and Peter D. Thilly join with historians of science and the environment in identifying “biota” as a foundational actor and site of conflict in East Asian history. Those interested in the ways in which technologies and material objects (re)constitute space and place through their physical operations, social locations, and ideological affordances will find much to think with in the discussions of cameras, transport devices, and buildings that run through the various modules.
It is easy to overlook these concepts as foundational to modern East Asian history because, unlike a concept like “Sinosphere,” whose very morphemes signify “Asia,” terms such as “pioneers,” “corporation,” “biota,” or “camera” do not immediately invoke a specific place. It is easy to say that they circulate within East Asian history but they are not of East Asian history. But, as Bodies and Structures shows, the multivocality of space applies to the conceptual map of historical thinking as well—we need not define a specifically “East Asian” concept of pioneers, corporation, biota, or camera in order to underscore how each has instantiated significant spatial structures and served as a significant site of conflict in the many stories that make up the history of East Asia (Azuma 2019; McLaughlin et al 2021; Onaga 2013).
The digital structure of the site makes it possible to visualize new conceptual and thematic mappings and highlight a dynamic array of juxtaposition. It is also a practice that we hope to see carried out in different forms in more traditionally-structured print formats (see, e.g., Corrigan 2017) and other digital approaches to humanistic inquiry. Above all, we call for scholarship that starts from the three propositions that Doreen Massey articulated many years ago: first, that space is produced relationally, across multiple scales; second, that space is “the sphere…of coexisting heterogeneity”; and third, that space is “always under construction” (2005, 9). We see these propositions as foundational to an ethical scholarship that eschews the absolutisms and limitations of older conceptions of spatial inquiry and of the map itself.
Ethical scholarship requires owning our maps. Bodies and Structures owns its maps by underscoring their incompleteness and their situatedness. Our mappings reflect our own concerns as scholars as well as the history of knowledge production about East Asia, the uneven coverage and colonial categories of archives, and the limits and affordances of our own bodies, family systems, social positions, and institutional and social support networks. Bodies and Structures invites you to join in this process by examining how our mapping of East Asian history reflects, challenges, and expands your own.
Ambaras, David R., Curtis Fletcher, Erik Loyer, and Kate McDonald. 2019. “Building a Multivocal Spatial History: Scalar and the Bodies and Structures Project (Part 3),” Platform: a digital forum for conversations about buildings, spaces, and landscapes, August 19, 2019.
Azuma, Eiichirō. 2019. In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Certeau, Michel de. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Corrigan, John. 2021. Commentary, “Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History,” Panel at American Historical Association Annual Meeting 2021 (Virtual). Recorded April 19, 2021. Availabe on YouTube.
——— 2015. “Genealogies of Emplacement.” In Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives, edited by David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris, 54–71. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Corrigan, John, ed. 2017. Religion, Space, and the Atlantic World. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press.
Duara, Prasenjit. 2010. “Asia Redux: Conceptualizing a Region for Our Times.” The Journal of Asian Studies 69, no. 4: 963–83.
Ho, Engseng. 2017. “Inter-Asian Concepts for Mobile Societies.” The Journal of Asian Studies 76, no. 4: 907–28.
Howitt, Richard. 1998. “Scale as Relation: Musical Metaphors of Geographical Scale.” Area 30, no. 1: 49–58.
Lewis, Martin W., and Kären E. Wigen. 1997. The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Massey, Doreen B. 2005. For Space. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.
McLaughlin, Levi, Aike P. Rots, Jolyn Baraka Thomas, and Chika Watanabe. 2021. “Investigating the Corporate Form in Practice: Heterarchy, hitozukuri, Hello Kitty, and the Public Good.” The Immanent Frame. Published April 2, 2021.
Onaga, Lisa A. 2013. “Bombyx and Bugs in Meiji Japan: Toward a Multispecies History?” Scholar & Feminist Online 11, no. 3. . Accessed May 21, 2021.
Pearson, Mike, and Michael Shanks. 2014. “Pearson|Shanks—Theatre/Archaeology—Return and Prospect.” In Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms, edited by Ian Alden Russell and Andrew Cochrane, 199–230. One World Archaeology. New York, Heidelberg, Dordrecht, and London: Springer.
Pickles, John. 2012. A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-Coded World. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge.
Tagliacozzo, Eric, Helen F. Siu, and Peter C Perdue, eds. 2015a. Asia Inside Out: Connected Places. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.
——— 2015b. Asia Inside Out: Changing Times. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.
——— 2019. Asia Inside Out: Itinerant People. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.
Thongchai, Winichakul. 1997. Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg
The Yajimas as a 'my car' family
Two big things happen to the Yajimas in Album 3:
- they move into a larger house;
- they increase their car collection.
The privilege of the first page of Album 3 is all about the car (see image on the left). The photos on the pages which follow pre-date the arrival of the Ford, a fact which not only reaffirms the chronological play Isao enjoys in creating “album time” but also the immense importance the Ford had for him. On the page shown above Isao, Eiko and Haruki each took it in turns to pose with the car in three separate car portraits aptly summarised by the caption: “together with the Ford.” This Ford and her siblings enter this album—and possibly the life of the Yajima family—as kin and worthy of great care. In Isao's photographs, the car achieves a level of visual intimacy not afforded to the house, even the new one. This was perhaps because the car was Isao’s space–and it relied almost solely on his presence and skill. We never see Eiko, for example, behind the wheel.
Turn the page of Album 3 and with the sudden splurge of a colour photograph, viewers also learn that the family have also moved to a new larger home that incorporates the dental practice. The house was newly built in a modern housing development known as a danchi and when Isao was taking photographs of it, the house was surrounded by blank, unoccupied garden which the family filled with spiky shrubs and a traditional stone lantern, but mostly Isao used the space to park his cars. There, he developed a new aesthetic and spatial setting for taking family photographs.
As signalled by the curatorial choice behind the first page, Album 3 is dominated by Isao’s pride in owning and using his cars, a choice of subject that also reflects the reduced family milestones and perhaps, teenage unwillingness to pose. Around 1952 in the course of Album 1, the Yajima family bought the Japanese-produced Auto Sandal, which, for around 100,000 yen, faithfully enabled their domestic travels. However, the expanded outside space of their new home in turn allowed Isao expand his car collection and also photograph his cars at rest. Owning more than one car was a loud claim to the privilege of space to park and to travel when and where you pleased and at your own pace. Car parking was a pressing urban issue in 1960s Japan, and a reason many licence-holders gave for not yet owning a car (Asahi Shimbun 1966). In the album pages which follow it was the car rather than the new home which Isao chose to photograph close-up and solo, but also with himself back in front of the camera. This move back in front of the camera signalled a new stage in Isao’s visual and familial identity as he gradually lost his status as otōsan kameraman with his three pubescent children now far beyond the expected and desired infant snaps.
In 1963, the Yajimas would have been among the millions of maikā zoku (my car families) in Japan. In his essay on the rise of the owner driver in Shōwa Japan, David Plath describes how the family car and the car–owning family remapped, not only the Japanese landscape as roads were built and parking spaces competed over, but “the lines of human sociability” (Plath 1990, p. 235). Plath traces the car’s influence as a possession, but as Isao’s photos show, the car also existed as a photographic subject and the idea of the car was woven into the fabric of millions of families’ lives by the time Isao and his family posed with the Ford in 1963. In both Japan, and the Yajima family, the pace of car acquisition stepped up in the 1960s as Japan more widely entered the kokuminsha jidai—the “era of the people’s car.” By 1963 car ownership in Japan exceeded one million. By this point, the Auto Sandal and the Ford were not enough for the Yajimas, and in 1965 they purchased a Volkswagen Kahmann Gia, amusingly named “Sir Kahmann Gia” in Isao’s captions. Just a year later, in 1966, the year the Japanese media heralded as the “my car era,” they purchased a Toyota Corona. The car collection exhibited the family’s accumulating wealth, and the photographs which survive in Album 3 are one material trace of the family’s group performance as wealthy and proud car owners. The photo reel below shows just a few of these images from Album 3. Look closely at:
- patterns of pose: notice the physical closeness between the posing person and the car;
- the place of Isao in front of the camera;
- how the car enabled the family to take up space on the move and mark out landmarks such as Odawara Castle with their own mobile Yajima territory.
The sheer number of images of the cars in this album, particularly the closeness between bodies and the car, show that Isao cared about having a car collection, being seen with one or other of his cars, and making sure the future viewers of his photograph albums knew he owned many cars. The photos in this volume made these emotions material. Histories of post-1945 consumption have understandably focused on rates and patterns of acquisition as these are the acts that have generated archival traces. However, the Yajima family photos begin to make a case for examining the emotions behind and within the acts of consumption; emotions such as desire, pride, caretaking, and envy which all play a role in the experience of displaying something you own and want others to know you own. What is striking between this album and Album 1 and Album 2 is the different visual role that owning a car offered Isao versus that available when he became a parent. Isao’s visual trace of car ownership positions him in full view of any future onlookers. However, his visual traces of fatherhood render him largely invisible in the archive which survives as he stands, crouches or encourages his wife and children from behind the camera, beyond the threshold of historical view.
This page references:
- 1 media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg 2019-12-30T05:10:56-05:00 "Mama no kamera kyōshitsu" 22 Yoiko magazine (1962) plain 2021-09-28T11:07:25-04:00 1959-1962 Emily Chapman Yoiko Yoshioka Senzō
- 1 media/The newlyweds pose outside the Atami Ocean Hotel 1 January 1941.jpg 2020-10-21T16:57:31-04:00 The Yajimas as a 'my car' family 18 plain 2021-09-28T11:22:27-04:00 35.68039, 139.76901 Chuo 1952-1966 Yajima Isao Yajima Eiko Odawara Castle
- 1 media/Around Gaien c.1948_thumb.jpg 2020-01-06T16:32:44-05:00 Around Gaien 6 Isao took Haruki and his camera for a day out in Tokyo, 1948 media/Around Gaien c.1948.jpg plain 2021-08-09T16:16:05-04:00 35.67723, 139.71711 Private Collection 1948 Copyright undetermined. If you are the rights holder, please contact us at bodiesandstructures [at] gmail.com. Emily Chapman EBC-0020