Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Touring with ManAir

ManAir introduced readers to tourist attractions all over Manchukuo and beyond, from sacred stupas to majestic mountains to the Great Wall. Many of these covers also included a Manchuria Aviation Company airplane flying overhead.

Can you spot the company airplane on the magazine covers?
Do you recognize any of these famous sites? What are they? Can you find them on a map?
Why did ManAir feature different tourist attractions throughout the country? What ideas was it conveying to its readers?

The nearly ubiquitous presence of these airplanes flying above might first suggest the expanding purview of the Manchuria Aviation Company. Yet few Japanese could afford to travel on this airline as tourists. Instead of advertising aerial access to these places, then, ManAir was emphasizing what Kate McDonald has called "the cultural pluralism" of the client state (McDonald 2017).

Many of these covers highlighted sacred sites of Manchukuo's various ethnicities: Manchu and Chinese Buddhists meditated at the Beita stupa in Fengtian, the Russian Orthodox community gathered at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Harbin, and Manchu and Korean shamans worshipped at Tianchi Lake on Mt. Changbaishan.

Through this discourse of cultural pluralism, ManAir underscored the idea that Manchukuo consisted of diverse and exotic populations, but essentialized and unchanging in place, as compared to their modern, colonial overlords, the Japanese. Imperial tourism thus deepened and sustained colonial difference between Japanese and their subjects, while still incorporating them all within the same empire.

This page has paths:

This page has tags: