The Journal of Japanese Studies
Yasuda Yojūrō’s 1936 “Nihon no hashi” (Japanese bridges) was among the most influential essays of its time. A discursive reflection on the place of Japanese bridges in the Japanese cultural imagination, “Nihon no hashi” earned Yasuda, the inspirational center of the Japanese Romantic Movement, the fervent devotion of his readers during the 1930s and the vilification of intellectuals after the war. Yasuda’s aura, projected from this essay as from no other, made him an emblem and embodiment of an age and a spirit. To many of his readers, in essays like “Nihon no hashi” Yasuda provided an antidote to a spiritual and cultural crisis in the beautification of sacrifice and violence; to later critics like Ōoka Makoto, Yasuda and his writing were toxic, to be treated like “radioactive substance disposed of deep in the sea.” This translation of “Nihon no hashi” attempts to give a sense of the power of the original work by preserving its slippery and at times maddeningly opaque expository slides.
34, Number 2 (Summer 2008)