“Sacred Reproductions”: Rethinking Tsurumi’s Tenkō in the Context of the Global Marketplace

By Joseph Blessin.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In his exploration of wartime and postwar Japan Shunsuke Tsurumi made interesting use of the reproducible image of a simple Japanese dish, known as oyako donburi. If a reproducible image of such a delectable Japanese dish could actually take on material form surely it would fall under copyright protection, guaranteeing that all usages serve only the interests of the proprietor. In fact, oyako donburi had a very particular application for enforcers of the Japanese “Maintenance of Public Order Act of 1928”, who used the test of one’s love for a mother to coerce excessively cosmopolitan “New Men” of the competitive examination system into complying, or enacting tenkō, to the nationalist government’s growingly jingoistic policies. David Brewer examined a similar test, one involving securing copyright proprietorship for William Hogarth over his own works, works increasingly seen as emblematic of an eighteenth-century notion of “English-ness”. This test was the 1734 Engraver’s Act, or Hogarth’s Act. Despite the historical and contextual distance interesting parallels between these two tests remain unexplored, pointing to the fundamental manner reproductions, both physical and mental, are not only held by cultural authorities but also contestable in the marketplace.

Keywords: Japanese “Maintenance of Public Order Act of 1928”, 1734 Engraver’s Act (Hogarth’s Act), History of East Asian Twentieth Century Visual Culture, Manners of Cultural Exchange in Global Society, Shunsuke Tsurumi, Yoshimi Takeuchi, Conversion (Tenkō), Reproduction, Copyright

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.127-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.506MB).

Joseph Blessin

PhD Student, McGill University in Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I am now teaching English in Ulsan, Korea, preparing to embark on my PhD research Jan 2011 at Edinburgh University. I had been an Art History Master’s graduate student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. My primary focus of study is eighteenth- and nineteenth century objects and images related to science, especially the formative scientific disciplines of neurology, psychiatry and evolutionary theory.


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