Question about kissing and Audience studies of the Occupation

Kirsten Cather kcather at
Fri Sep 3 12:32:15 EDT 2010

Hi Sarah - 
I don't know if you already located a source on this question about kissing & censorship, but I just happened
to come across an article by Iwasaki Akira - "From MacArthur to Yujiro" (Makkaasaa kara Yujiro made) from
Eiga hyōron in August 1958 that has a couple of sections on kissing and its censorship from Taisho to the Occupation period.
(I have a pdf and would happy to forward it your way if you contact me off-list)

While on the topic of censorship, I thought I'd also chime in on the question Rob Buscher recently raised:

On Aug 27, 2010, at 2:18 PM, Rob Buscher wrote:

>  to what extent the politically subversive messages snuck past the censors actually affected the viewing population at that time (i.e. to what extent did they pick up on these messages, and did they affect the way audience members perceived the US occupation). 
> While I have enough historical documentation to back up many of the claims that I would like to make, I cannot seem to find any studies that have been conducted on audience perception from that time period, which would more definitively prove my argument. Does someone on the list know of any audience studies conducted in the 1940s or 1950s? Japanese or English sources are fine. 
> Thanks in advance,
> Rob Buscher
> MA Japanese Film Studies Candidate SOAS

I have always been very skeptical of these kinds of claims because it assumes
the censors were denser than the audiences, certainly a possibility, but not necessarily true
and nearly impossible to substantiate. How to get around this is tricky, but a great example of one that does is
Edward Fowler's really wonderful account of Ozu's skirting the Occupation censors in
"Piss and Run: Or How Ozu does a Number on SCAP" in Washburn and Cavanaugh's "Word and Image."
Basically, he uses very convincing close textual readings to suggest that the subversive message would have been 
obvious to the contemporary Japanese audience and, even more interestingly, cites misreadings by later US film critics (Richie and Bordwell) to
consider how the Occup. censors might have misinterpreted or not even seen those subversive moments of the film.


Kirsten Cather
Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies
1 University Station, G9300
Austin, TX  78712
WCH 5.104B; kcather at; 512.471.0031 (office)

On Jul 16, 2010, at 9:53 PM, Mark Nornes wrote:

> I don't recall if the issue is covered in the detail you require, and it's not at hand at the moment, but the first stop shopping for anything on censorship is Makino Mamoru's "History of Japanese Film Censorship." (Harvard has it in your area.) Aside from its detailed history, many of the regulations are reprinted in its 500 some pages.
> Markus
> 日本映画検閱史 /
> Nihon eiga kenʼetsushi
> Author:	牧野守, 1930- 牧野守著. ; Mamoru Makino
> Publisher:	パンドラ : 発売現代書館, Tōkyō : Pandora : Hatsubai Gendai Shokan, 2003.
>> Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2010 14:11:32 -0400
>> From: sfred at
>> To: KineJapan at
>> Subject: Question about kissing
>> I was just editing something I wrote and started to wonder whether it is true.  I was suggesting that kissing in Japanese cinema in the early 1930s would have been the object of censorship.  That is a rather vague way that I have put it but is it true in either the sense that 1.) depiction of a kiss would have triggered some attention and potential censorship based 2.) there were actual guidelines about kissing that the censors followed? 
>> I am aware of the censorship categories at the time and have looked at a lot of print media censorship primary materials in both political and fuzoku categories.  But not much about cinema (or kissing in particular).  Is there some better research on this out there?  I think I based my statement on anecdotal materials from people I know, and I don't think those individuals are really old or reliable enough to base this claim on!
>> Thanks for any direction you might send me in!  I don't have easy access to a Japanese language library at the moment either.
>> Sarah 
>> Sarah Frederick
>> Associate Professor of Japanese
>> Dept. Modern Languages 
>>    and Comparative Literature
>> Boston University
>> 718 Commonwealth Avenue
>> 402C
>> Boston, MA 02215
>> 617-358-4654
>> sfred at
>> Get a free e-mail account with Hotmail. Sign-up now.

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