War, Peace, and Tourism in Postwar Okinawa
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About the author
Gerald Figal is professor of history and Japanese cultural studies at Vanderbilt University.
This original and fresh book explores Okinawa’s makeover as a tourist mecca in the long historical shadow and among the physical ruins of the Pacific War’s most devastating land battle. Gerald Figal considers how a place burdened by a history of semicolonialism, memories of war and occupation, economic hardship, and contentious current political affairs has reshaped itself into a resort destination. Drawing on an innovative mix of detailed archival research and extensive fieldwork, Gerald Figal considers the ways Okinawa has accommodated war experience and its legacies within the manufacture and promotion of both a “tropical paradise” image and a heritage tourism site identified with the premodern Ryukyu Kingdom. Tracing the postwar formation of “Tourist Okinawa,” Figal addresses interrelated issues of economic sustainability, local political autonomy, interregional and international relations, environmental preservation, historical and cultural self-representation, and especially Okinawa's role as a global peace site laboring under the legacies of war. From the end of World War Two to the present, the author follows Okinawa’s evolution through three main themes: war memorialization, tourism-influenced environmental and historical restoration, and invasion and occupation represented by U.S. military bases and beach resorts. Creatively, accessibly, and eloquently written, this compelling work highlights a set of islands that represent key issues facing contemporary Japan.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
; April 2012
276 pages; ISBN 9781442215832Read online
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Author: Gerald Figal
Part I: Graves and Caves
Chapter 1: Tours among the Ruins
Chapter 2: The Touristification of Sacred Ground
Part II: Creations and Recreations
Chapter 3: “Tropical Image Up”: Landscape under (Tourist) Occupation
Chapter 4: Ryukyu Restoration: Shuri Castle and Furusato Okinawa
Part III: Bases and Beaches
Chapter 5: Military Bases as Tourist Attraction
Chapter 6: Beach Resort Invasion
In the press
With its triangulated position at the crossroads of Japan, the United States, and its own past kingdom, contemporary Okinawa provides observers with richly complex material. Figal handles this material well. Based on archival research and fieldwork begun in 2001, his book provides fascinating insights into the branding of Okinawa for the Japanese domestic tourist marketplace, from tropical landscaping to the restoration of Shuri Castle (the former center of the Ryukyuan Kingdom) to the building of swank resorts. In working to create a distinctive brand, the tourist industry sought elements that would make Okinawa distinctive within the Japanese domestic tourist market. Those elements included a tropical image ("Japan's Hawaii") and continuing connection to the United States through the ongoing U.S. military presence. Thus, tropical beaches and U.S. bases are not such uncommon bedfellows in Okinawa. They constitute what Figal calls "beachheads"—luxury resorts capable of launching their own offense against Okinawan physical and cultural space. Embedding the making of "tourist Okinawa" within the experiences of wartime and U.S. occupation, Figal's compelling analysis greatly enriches the growing field of Okinawan studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended.