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  • Outdoor Play in Wartime Japan

    L. Halliday Piel

    Chapter from the book: Frühstück S. & Walthall A. 2017. Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan.


    Part of an oral history project on children’s wartime experiences, this chapter, by Halliday Piel, focuses on outdoor play, both that structured for the purposes of indoctrination into the role of little nationals and free play that was unsupervised. Certain forms of self-directed child play were acceptable so long as they transmitted state-sanctioned culture (the conservative culturalism underlying ultranationalism), prepared children for adult roles, and had physical or spiritual benefits. The folklorist Yanagita Kunio lauded autonomy in play because he saw it as harboring Japan’s indigenous culture. Play had to fit between the time allotted for patriotic work service, often took the form of searching for edibles, and sometimes relied on handmade toys. Gender segregation meant that girls and boys seldom played together, although there were exceptions. Play was often a challenge for children who had been evacuated from cities, because they did not know rural practices.

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    Piel, L. 2017. Outdoor Play in Wartime Japan. In: Frühstück S. & Walthall A (eds.), Child’s Play. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.40.i

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    Published on Oct. 10, 2017