I. INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT
This book contains photographs most of which were taken by me--John W. Bennett--while I was a member of the Japan Occupation in the late 1940s. It also contains descriptive material pertaining to these photographs and other textual material. The book has several identities. It is, first, a personal and photographic memoir of a unique episode in the author's career. It is, as well, a report--but sans professional details--of a unique experiment in social analysis and research. And it is--at least to some extent--a picture of Japan after the Pacific War and before the country experienced its full national revival. The present book could be considered a last report in the series produced by the Research in Japanese Social Relations Project at The Ohio State University, funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The manuscript also contains texts of several kinds: descriptions of photographs, extracts from a journal I wrote in the form of letters to my wife at home, sections of letters written to colleagues back home, and other kinds of written material. All of these materials were saved through the years, and I actually never re-read them until this project was begun in the summer of 2000. I was pleased to find that the material stood up well after all these years and that it provides useful information and insights for the photographs.
A. Time period
The research described in this book occurred over two years from March 8, 1949 to March 15, 1951. This might seem like a brief episode, however this time period was so full of travels and research experiences that it seemed much longer, and indeed an enormous amount of work was completed. The research really started in 1948, when I was ready to leave Columbus for Japan. However, due to many wartime logistical issues I was not able to leave. For one year I prepared to leave for Japan, any day expecting to get the word that it was time to go.
The photographs and texts in this book are presented by topic and by the nature of the effort. Some of the photographic "portfolios" are based on specific research projects; in such cases the text and photos are coordinated. Other chapters are based on exploratory and educational journeys designed to inform the researchers or to gather background data--because our Japanese colleagues insisted that if we were to plan and direct social research in Japan we must be properly prepared and informed. Thus, while many of the photographs reproduced here had no direct bearing on research topics, they represent important educational experiences.
B. A Note on Photography
The book contains 300 images, all but twenty-four were taken by me or of me with my own camera. The remaining photographs were taken by four different individuals. Two sets of photographs were presented to me to be used as I saw fit by local Japanese photographers. I have also included a few pictures from a Japanese publication on the Ise Grand Shrines. A few photos in Portfolio Four were taken by an Army photographer, with my direction, to be used in a Public Opinion and Sociological Research [PO&SR] Division publication (however the photographs were never used for the publication, which instead became a simple public opinion survey report). A few pictures were taken on two visits in the 1960s, when I returned to teach at Waseda University in Tokyo.
In general, the subject matter of the photographs reflects the professional orientation of the whole enterprise insofar as it was guided by, first, the topics of the research and, second, by my own need to learn something about a country and a culture of which I had no previous detailed knowledge. However, the reader may wonder why the collection lacks portraits of individuals, although there are a number of group photos of Japanese families and officials. I was reluctant to photograph individuals because I felt somewhat like a carpet-bagger--the Occupationaire taking advantage of the Occupied population. However, with some exceptions, I have always avoided too much intimacy in the photographic situation, believing that anthropologists, like journalists, tend to take advantage of their independent and free-wheeling role. Only when portraits become an official part of the fieldwork context have I felt free to ask individuals to pose for my camera.
Of course it is one thing to take pictures of architecture and technical activities since these represent material phenomena that need recording. But it is quite another to take pictures of behavior and imply motives and attitudes from the pictures. So the taking of pictures in cultural anthropology has never proven very popular or profitable. Looking over the anthropological photography scene it seems to me that most anthropologists who took pictures did so for simple or ambiguous reasons.
While in Japan I did not especially identify myself as an anthropologist, nor as an anthropologist who takes pictures! However, in preparing this material so many years after its inception it occurs to me that the relationship of picture-taking to anthropological--or at least social science research--is implied. Moreover in the years that have passed anthropologists have certainly shown more interest in photography than they did in previous decades. The relationship between anthropology and photography remains ambiguous.
Very few anthropologists took pictures as a formal or official part of their data gathering activities. For example the photographs that Bronsilaw Malinowski took on Kiriwina, the island he studied in the Trobriand Islands (see Young 1998), apparently were more or less casual products of his fieldwork. In addition the photographs themselves focus on individual people, they did not project Malinowski's interest in social and functional themes. He never seems to have used them as data nor did he publish them (according to the editor of the book). At the other extreme Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1942) used photographs taken with a speed gun Leica camera as data to illustrate their ornate Freudian theories of human behavior. In my book Classic Anthropology (Bennett 1998) I critique Mead and Bateson's photographic efforts. It seems to me that anthropologists must depend fundamentally on word pictures to describe the mental and behavioral elements of culture; photographs are simply not dynamic enough in most cases.
Although there were some specific objectives for taking pictures, mo st were taken out of habit as I had a long-term and serious interest in photography. However, it would be wrong to say that I had no professional motives in taking these pictures. I did feel that I had a responsibility to carry home visual documentation of my work in Japan and more importantly documentation of the state of Japanese life in this critical period when the country was recovering from a disastrous experience. But it was not until we started work on the compilation of these photographs that I began to realize what I had done--that is to some extent, documented a Japan that was on the verge of major recovery and would in the next decade or so become a major economic power. Finally, I should mention the vibrant atmosphere in the Japan Occupation with reference to photography. That is, the Japanese were beginning to produce the world's first reasonably priced high quality cameras and most Occupationaires eagerly purchased these beautiful objects. I joined the party.
C. A Note on Photographic Technology
All of the pictures reproduced in this manuscript in a square format were taken with a Rolleicord 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ camera, with a Schneider 3x5 lens. All pictures with a rectangular format were taken with two or three 35mm cameras, but only one of them comes to mind: my brand-new model S Nikon--the first version of the famous camera--with a Nikkor F2 lens. I bought this camera from the factory about the same time David Douglas Duncan bought his F2 Nikon in order to photograph the Korean War. The processing of the film--mostly Eastman Plus X and an occasional Kodachrome, bought at the Army PX, was done in Japanese studios; the printing done at different places at different times; in my opinion, the best prints and enlargements were done in Japan and for a decade or so after I returned to the U.S. I sent material back to a private studio in Tokyo. George Saito, one of my former employees in the Occupation, was himself an accomplished photographer, and he introduced me to his superlative processor. As for the color images, the few reproductions show considerable deterioration of dies--early color film was quite fugitive.