The Journal of Japanese Studies



The Bloodstained Doll:
Violence and the Gift in Wartime Japan

During 1936-45, women throughout the Japanese Empire made countless female figures and sent them in imonbukuro (comfort bags) to military personnel.  Incorporating elements of amulets, Bodhisattva images, hitogata (ancient protective figures), and Western-style dolls, these masukotto (mascots) or imon ningyō (comfort dolls) took on shifting ideological and ritual functions.  Initially, they helped domesticate colonial landscapes and bind conventional soldiers to the female-coded mythic Japanese homeland.  Late in the war, when taken by tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps, or “kamikaze”) pilots on fatal missions, the dolls had increasingly conjugal and sacrificial associations, foreshadowing their ambiguous deployments in postwar memorial, display, and political projects.

Volume 31, Number 2 (Summer 2005)
© 2005 Society for Japanese Studies


Marie Anchordoguy and Kevin M. Doak, Coeditors     Martha L. Walsh, Managing Editor
The Journal of Japanese Studies
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