Submitted to Wesleyan University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies.
Director of Academic Computing
My final project involved the creation of an academic web site to integrate what I have
learned in hypertext, writing, and computer fundamentals during my MALS degree program with
a concentration in Computerized Communications. This project paper describes the process
used to perform research and create a web site on Kamikaze Images. This topic combines my
interests in Japan-U.S. relations, computer technology, and Japanese language, society, and
history. The project builds on my previous studies for an MA in Advanced Japanese Studies
from the University of Sheffield.
Section 1 of this paper summarizes the project topic and web site contents. Section 2
presents design considerations for the web site. The next section discusses how I used
technology in project research and site design. Section 4 gives highlights of my trip to
Japan in order to visit museums and to talk with former kamikaze pilots about their wartime
experiences. Section 5 examines the connections between this project's web site and my web
site on Japanese-American Friendship Dolls. The final section gives a few closing remarks
about this project.
The Kamikaze Images web site is at http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/kamikaze.
1. Project Summary
American and Japanese images of kamikaze pilots differ greatly. This web site explores
diverse portrayals and perceptions of young Japanese men who carried out suicide attacks
near the end of World War II. The site's two principal essays, one on American views and
the other on Japanese views, analyze the primary images or perceptions about kamikaze
pilots and identify the most important sources of these images.
People form images about kamikaze using various means, ranging from well documented
histories to popular movies. I examine in detail the specific forms that create perceptions
and opinions about kamikaze, including books, films, museums, Internet, and writings by
kamikaze pilots. My evaluation includes works of popular culture, such as comic books,
television programs, fiction, animation, and children's books. The site contains several
analytical essays covering topics such as documentaries, web sites, and Japanese films.
The site covers all of Japan's special attack forces, which carried out suicide attacks
not only with planes but also with other weapons such as torpedoes, rocket-propelled gliders,
and explosive motorboats. The term "kamikaze pilots" has been used in this project paper for
convenience to refer to all members of Japan's special attack forces.
The Kamikaze Images site has about 150 web pages or the equivalent of about 300 typed
pages (assuming 350 words per page). My web site includes a bibliography, several pages
for internal navigation, and a links page to Internet sources of information about kamikaze
and other special attack forces. I have translated about 70 typed pages of Japanese stories,
letters, poems, and speeches for my own site and for the Japanese web site of a former
kamikaze pilot. His web site contains much information about his wartime experiences and
the stories of men who served with him in the Imperial Japanese Navy. I consider my English
translations of thirteen stories in the "Sadness of Bereaved Families" section on his web
site (http://www.warbirds.jp/senri/19english/izoku/izoku.html) to be an important part of
my overall project work.
The critical reviews and essays published on Kamikaze Images make an original
contribution to the existing literature. Other writers have not specifically addressed or
comprehensively explored the issue of sharply contrasting American and Japanese
perceptions of kamikaze pilots. Several of my web site topics, such as documentaries and
Japanese museum exhibits related to kamikaze pilots, have only a few scattered published
reviews. My web site provides the only source for a comprehensive analysis and comparison
of individual works. For example, Kamikaze Images contains critical reviews of about 30
English-language books published since the 1950s on Japan's kamikaze corps and other
special attack forces. In addition, separate critical essays examine the book categories
of fiction, personal narratives, and general books.
Many individual English-language web pages on the Internet provide information on
kamikaze pilots, but most of these rely heavily on previously published books and do not
provide an academic perspective. Also, these web pages rarely provide the Japanese
viewpoint of kamikaze attacks. Five large Japanese web sites and numerous other Japanese
web pages present information on special attack forces, but Kamikaze Images is the first
large English-language web site outside Japan to address this topic.
2. Site Design
This section discusses issues related to the design of my web site. I examined several
other web sites that present academic topics in history, literature, and anthropology in
order to identify effective design characteristics. My first web site on Friendship Dolls
contained some design errors, such as inconsistent menus, fonts, and page layouts, so I
spent much time planning the design for Kamikaze Images to ensure I did not repeat these
A. Organization and Navigation
This site uses a hierarchical structure to organize its contents. This assists readers
to find information classified under specified topics. During site development, I changed
the organization several times to better fit the topics addressed by individual pages. I
plan to add information to this site beyond December 2004, the deadline for submission of
the final project required for my MALS degree. Therefore, I constructed a hierarchy that
will allow new pages to fit into existing web site categories.
The left-hand expanding menu and the bar at the top and bottom of each page provide
the site's primary navigation capabilities, but several other features assist readers in
finding information. The top right of each page has a Google search box that allows searches
of the site based on key words. The Site Map page lists in hierarchical order all pages on
the site. In addition, there are additional categorizations of web pages in individual
sections such as "Books" and "Museums." The page on "Recent Changes" allows previous visitors
to go directly to new web pages they have not yet viewed.
Many web sites today use a page layout with a standard header, menu on left-hand side,
and page content in the remaining space. This layout has several advantages, including
standardization of the menu and header for all pages on the site. Most sites with this type
of layout have a small logo and name at the top left with a link to the home page, so I
adopted the same convention for this site. Many sites use narrow columns for page content,
but decided to use most of the available space on the page to allow photos to fit comfortably
with a normal size window.
B. Hypertext Considerations
Hypertext presents information as a collection of pages with links between them.
Readers can move between pages in a non-linear fashion based on available links, which
provide multiple options for exploration within a network of numerous pages and links. Many
people experience disorientation when reading hypertext. Conklin (1987, 38) describes this
disorientation problem, "Along with the power of being able to organize information much
more complexly comes the problem of having to know (1) where you are in the network and
(2) how to get to some other place that you know (or think) exists in the network."
No perfect solution exists for this disorientation problem, but I included several design
features in this site to lessen confusion. Each web page has the same header and left-hand
menu system, so someone arriving at any page will recognize the Kamikaze Images logo at the
top left and can click on it at any time to go to the home page. The top and bottom of each
page have a bar to show the page location in relation to the home page. This bar includes
links to any higher-level page in the hierarchical path to the home page.
Search engine results or links from other web pages allow readers to start at any page
on the web site. As a result, I tried to write the site content in such a way that readers
can get necessary information from the first page visited. For example, for a person who
wants to read a critical review on a specific film or book, I tried to write the review page
in such a way that the person does not need to read other pages on the site. This leads to
some repetition of background information not required in a standard linear essay.
The creation of hypertext allows the identification and analysis of relationships
between different information. Landow (1997, 125-6) explains its academic value:
One of the presuppositions in hypertext, particularly when applied to
education, is that linking materials encourages habits of relational thinking
in the reader. Such intrinsic hypermedia emphasis upon interconnectedness
(or connectivity) provides a powerful means of teaching sophisticated critical
thinking, particularly that which builds upon multicausal analyses and relates
different kinds of data.
At the beginning of my research, I found it difficult to make connections due to the
complexity of Japan's kamikaze operations. As I learned more about its history and about
different types of conceptions people have about kamikaze, I started to identify many
relationships between books, films, museums, letters, web sites, and personal interviews.
C. Writing Hypertext
Writing hypertext to create an academic web site differed greatly from composing a
traditional linear essay. Hypertext added much more complexity since multiple relationships
between pages in the site had to be considered.
Creating pages for the web site seemed like constructing a pyramid. The bottom of the
pyramid consists of the lowest-level pages in the hierarchical structure, such as critical
reviews of individual books or films. The home page makes up the top level of the pyramid,
and the two critical essays on Japanese and American views of kamikaze pilots also sit near
the top of the pyramid. As a result, I did not complete the home page and the two integrative
essays until the very end of the project, since these depended on the foundation of sections,
subsections, and lowest-level pages. The middle levels of the pyramid consist of various
classifications and subclassifications of lower-level pages. For example, six individual book
reviews fall into the category of "Personal Narratives," under the higher-level category of
"Books." The essay for a section or subsection contained links to supporting pages, and the
summary observations and conclusions needed to be consistent with detail pages. Therefore,
I found lower-level pages supporting them had to be written first before I could complete an
analysis at a higher level, even though from the beginning of the project I wrote many notes
and observations to be included in higher-level pages.
Hypertext writing must consider the number, placement, and relevance of links. Too many
links in an essay or critical review gives the writing a cluttered look and provides too
many opportunities for readers to jump to other pages without ever getting through the
original web page. Therefore, this site's lower-level pages (e.g., reviews of individual
museums) have few links. These links tend to be placed near the end of the page, so a reader
will not jump to another page without finishing the text on the original page. I tried to
limit the links to those most relevant to the typical reader. For example, the site has
reviews of two books on the suicide mission of the battleship Yamato, so each review page
has one link to the page on the other book. In contrast, some pages have the principal purpose
of internal navigation, so these pages contain numerous links that usually start near the top.
D. Colors and Graphics
When considering the color scheme for this web site, I recognized immediately the need to
stay away from any shade of red in order to avoid association with blood or the Japanese flag.
I tried to select neutral colors that will not influence visitors' opinions about kamikaze.
This site's color scheme of white and shades of blue comes from an internal web site at my
company, but I have found several large commercial and educational web sites with a very
similar color scheme.
The placement of photos and other graphics generally follows a consistent pattern throughout
the web site. Most pages start with a graphic at the top right of the main contents
area. Multiple graphics on a single page generally alternate from right to left as the text
goes down the page. Other than the site logo at the top left of each page, I have avoided use
of custom graphics. Instead, I try to give an objective presentation of images related to
kamikaze, including historical photos, current photos of places and items related to kamikaze,
and copies of works being reviewed such as book and video covers.
3. Technology Use
New technological tools, which have become widely available only in the past decade,
provided much assistance in performing research and in designing this web site. Although I
used some technology with which I had previous familiarity, I also discovered some valuable
new tools while working on this project. I discuss in this section some examples of how
technology played a part in project research and web site design.
Acquisition of Source Materials
Since the end of World War II, books and films have played an important role in the
formation of people's perceptions of kamikaze pilots. However, many used items have been
very difficult to obtain, especially those that first came out several decades ago. Most
libraries generally have few books and videos related to a specialized topic such as kamikaze
pilots, and a single used book or video store is also unlikely to have many items. Now
readers can locate previously obscure items since many stores make available their stock
online. For example, I found Abebooks.com to be extremely helpful in locating out-of-print
books. This web site has a database that includes 12,500 booksellers selling 60 million
books, so I could locate several valuable references there. Through the search feature at
Abebooks.com, I found Kamikaze by Yasuo Kuwahara and Kamikaze Submarine by Yutaka Yokota,
first published in 1957 and 1962, respectively. Both of these books went through several
printings, an indication of their popularity and influence in the past, but they have
been out-of-print for many years. Through the Internet I also located and purchased old
English-language documentaries and used Japanese videos and books.
Japanese electronic message boards on special attack forces (including kamikaze pilots)
have regular postings, which allowed me to gain an understanding of people's current
feelings and opinions. These message boards had a spike in activity after the September 11th
terrorist attacks in 2001, as many people gave their opinions about the relationship of these
suicide attacks with the attacks made by kamikaze pilots in World War II. Japanese message
boards on kamikaze have also allowed me to make contact with others to ask questions and to
gather information for my web site. Although several active message boards on kamikaze exist
in Japan, outside of Japan there are no kamikaze-related message boards and almost no
kamikaze-related postings on other message boards.
Online Translation Resources
Jim Breen's online Japanese-English dictionary server continues to help me immensely in
translations of Japanese names and obscure words. I have heavily used this invaluable
resource since 1997, and no other hardcopy or online Japanese-English dictionary comes close
to it in terms of comprehensiveness and ease of use. Jim Breen, retired professor at Monash
University in Australia, has continued to add words and features to his dictionary server.
As part of my work in a Fall 2000 GLSP course on "Web Literacy: Theory and Practice of
Reading and Writing Hypertext," I wrote an extended essay on Jim Breen's web site
Although Jim Breen's online dictionary contains a huge number of words and phrases,
it helped little for most Japanese technical terms encountered while translating and
researching. Starting this project, I had no knowledge of Imperial Japanese Navy and Army
ranks, aircraft, and organization. A few web pages became invaluable resources to ensure
correct English translation of Japanese terms used by the military in World War II.
Google News Alerts
Throughout this project, I utilized a news alert feature initiated by Google in 2003.
Google updates its database continually from 4,500 online news sources, and you can receive
a daily e-mail for news articles matching the topic you specify. I requested any article that
contained the words "kamikaze" and "Japan." Each week I have been receiving links to about
five articles, which have been quite helpful in assessing current opinions about kamikaze
throughout the world. The most frequent topic has been veterans who experienced kamikaze
attacks, but there have also been quite a few articles related to modern-day terrorism.
The following three technological tools helped improve site design and decrease
When maintaining my Friendship Dolls web site, one of my biggest frustrations was the
effort required to change the navigation menu. I had embedded the menu in each web page,
so a simple menu change required me to modify the code on each page. For my new site I
wanted a consistent menu for each page that could be changed in a minimum amount of time,
so I considered using HTML frames. Although frames allow the implementation of a static
header and a standard site navigation system with a single HTML file for each, frame-based
sites have several disadvantages. Unless one uses appropriate HTML tags, search engines
have difficulties indexing a framed site, and site visitors using a search engine may
arrive at a single content page rather than the framed version including the header and menu.
I decided to search for an alternative to HTML frames.
Rather than start with the technology, I browsed the web to find the type of menu
system I would like to use, and then I would determine if it could be modified for my web
site. Even though I looked at many menu systems, the one I liked best was a dropdown
navigation system used by a site on my own company's intranet. I examined the code and
two or three days of work and almost giving up more than once, I figured out how to modify
certain variables and change certain sections of the code to get the desired menu system. The
original menu system only had one level of dropdown, so it took me a long time to figure out
how to change it to allow for multiple dropdowns. Although I read that some users may not
tested the script on many different machines and browsers without encountering problems.
Cascading Style Sheets
Over time, many individual pages on my Friendship Dolls site have an inconsistent style,
such as font size and color for headings and regular text. Therefore, I wanted to ensure
this new site on Kamikaze Images had a consistent style that will allow the style to be
changed without having to change the HTML code on every single page. Through the use of
HTML tags applied to portions of text, cascading style sheets allow one file to control the
style used on pages throughout the web site. For example, I use the tag H5, which means
Header 5, to designate text that I want to be bold, small text in Arial font type with a light
blue color (i.e., #006699). I use H5 to designate the titles for content pages on the site, so
now each title will remain consistent with other pages. If I wanted to change the H5 size to
medium, then I would just change one word in the style sheet file, and all of the H5 headings
in the entire site would change from small to medium.
Google allows a site search option that can easily be incorporated into web pages by
copying the HTML code available at the Google site. The Google ranking system is widely
recognized as the best in providing a numbered listing of relevant pages based on user search
criteria. However, the HTML code at the Google site only gives a search of an entire site
with the same base URL, such as wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu, which means all folders and
subfolders with this base URL will be included in the search results. Consequently, pages in
both my Friendship Dolls and Kamikaze Images sites would be included in the search results.
I discussed this problem with my project advisor to see if he had any ideas on how to
limit search results to pages on Kamikaze Images. He explained that Wesleyan licensed
Google software that indexed the Wesleyan site each night, and the code for the search
feature at the Wesleyan Davison Art Center could be modified for my site. When I tried this,
I found that the indexing did not include personal sites on the Wesleyan servers, so I
experimented with changes in the HTML code to see if I could use the Google index directly.
I finally got it to work, so this is the search feature used for this site. Although Google
does not index sites daily like the Google-licensed software used by Wesleyan, this factor
matters little since my site will not change that rapidly. Also, the use of the Google index
allows me to move this site to another URL without any ties to the Wesleyan server embedded
in the HTML code of individual pages.
I reviewed some other technology options for use on my web site, but I decided to forego
them. At the beginning of this project, I read Jakob Nielson's book on Designing Web
Usability to get ideas on what technology to use and on how to structure the site. Nielson
(2000, 97, 160) argues that simplicity should be the goal of page design, since users rarely
come to a site to enjoy the design but rather to focus on the content. Also, users want a web
site design that allows them to locate quickly the page or information in which they are
interested. Keeping Nielson's advice in mind, I tried to keep the design of Kamikaze Images
simple, so I stayed away from technology that would detract from the main goal of providing
relevant content that can be quickly located.
Animation and Graphics
A few people recommended animation, graphics, and videos in the design of this site.
Although many excellent web sites have been developed using this type of technology, my
skills do not lie in this area. Moreover, the vast majority of people have more interest in the
content rather than fancy graphics decorating a site. I have tried to include historical photos
that illustrate kamikaze images, but I have avoided animation or more complex graphics.
I like the idea of a message board where site visitors can write their opinions and questions.
This allows interaction between visitors and the webmaster, and it also allows the free flow of
ideas between anyone in the world interested in the web site topic. However, the message board
for my first web site on Friendship Dolls drifted to topics not directly related to the site's
primary purpose, and at times inappropriate advertising would be posted. As a result, I decided
to discontinue that message board. Most postings on a message board on one Japanese site
(Kamikaze) are relevant to my web site's topic, so I decided to direct people to this message
board rather than try to establish my own. This Japanese site encourages postings in both
Japanese and English, but about 90% are written in Japanese. The small number of English
postings may discourage people who do not read Japanese, but I prefer to support this existing
message board rather than establish a competing one.
Style Sheets for Documentation
When I started this project, I envisioned that visitors would not want to get bogged
down with citations and notes, so I tried to find a way to use cascading style sheets and
HTML tags to create two versions of the same page, one with documentation and the other
without. Readers could use a link to go between two versions of the same page. I found that
such an approach would be very complex, since I had to deal with how to eliminate the non-
documented version spaces where there were notes or citations in the other version. I decided
then to create two separate files of each page, one with documentation and one without.
However, this made the site design overly complex. Also, search engines would index two
versions of each page, which would be very confusing to someone seeking information. In
most cases, the amount of documentation required on one web page was limited, so I
concluded that one documented version of each page would be the best approach.
4. Japan Trip
As part of my research for Kamikaze Images, I visited Japan for two months in 2004.
The primary purposes of this trip were to view artifacts at museums, to visit former air bases,
and to talk with former kamikaze pilots and others about their wartime experiences. These
activities greatly assisted my exploration of Japanese portrayals and perceptions of the men
who participated in suicide attacks.
My trip itinerary included visits to 11 museums with exhibits related to special attack
forces that carried out suicide attacks. I also went to several former air bases with monuments
related to the kamikaze corps, such as Oita, Kushira, and Miyazaki. I had the opportunity to
meet about 40 people who served in the former Japanese Imperial Navy or who were family
members of kamikaze pilots who died in the war. Most of the former Navy pilots had joined
kamikaze squadrons, and four had flown on suicide missions to Okinawa but returned due to
engine problems, weather, or plane damage after attacks by American planes. Near the end of
the war the Navy and Army designated many entire units as special attack corps intended to
carry out suicide attacks. Many men had trained in kamikaze units, but they did not attempt
actual attacks because the military lacked sufficient usable planes and the end of the war
occurred soon after the men had been assigned to kamikaze units. Although most of Japan's
special attack forces consisted of pilots who tried to crash planes into Allied ships, I also
met one man in an ohka (rocket-powered glider bomb) squadron and another man who trained as
a fukuryu (frogman in shallow water to destroy the enemy's landing craft with explosives
attached to top of bamboo pole).
Senri Nagasue, a former kamikaze pilot who has one of the largest Japanese web sites
about kamikaze, arranged for me to meet many people on my trip through Japan. Most of
these people are his Navy classmates or others he has met in performing research for the four
books he has written on kamikaze special attack corps. Several people took me to out-of-the-
way monuments and small exhibitions that I did not have on my original itinerary. Many men,
in addition to telling me about their wartime experiences, provided me with articles, books,
photos, and other material that provided invaluable resources for my web site.
During my trip to Japan, the places I visited and people I met allowed me to make
many interesting connections between information found in books, films, museums, Internet,
and other sources. For example, I discovered many links to Shinichi Ishimaru, a professional
baseball ace pitcher who joined the Navy and died as a kamikaze pilot at the age of 22 in
May 1945. During the first half of my two-month stay in Japan, I attended Japanese classes at
the Okayama Institute of Languages. The mother of the family in whose home I stayed was
from Saga Prefecture, Shinichi Ishimaru's home prefecture, and she had been a volunteer in
the production of the film Ningen no Tsubasa (Wings of a Man) about Ishimaru's life. She let
me watch this touching 1995 film, and I wrote a review of the movie for my web site. When I
visited the Special Attack Corps War Dead Memorial Tower in Kanoya City, I saw
Ishimaru's name on a plaque with the names of 908 kamikaze corps members who lost their
lives after departing from Kanoya Air Base. During my talk with a former ohka squadron
member, he mentioned to me that he met Ishimaru at Kanoya Air Base in 1945 and gave me
a copy of a newspaper article he had written about the film. I visited the Yasukuni Jinja
Yushukan near the end of my trip, and I saw Ishimaru's photo among the several thousand
photos of war dead displayed at the museum. On the Internet, I read that Ishimaru's name is
engraved on a monument, located outside the Tokyo Giants' stadium, which honors
professional baseball players who lost their lives in the war. Finally, through the Internet
I obtained a book about Ishimaru's life, which includes several historical photos.
Although I learned much from hearing the wartime experiences of former kamikaze
pilots, I also gained insights to Japan's special attack forces by talking with other people.
For example, I visited the former Kokubu No. 2 Air Base with Kiyoshi Iwamoto, who wrote a
book that includes a detailed history of the base, the last letters of several kamikaze pilots,
and reflections on kamikaze operations by several local residents. Iwamoto served in the
Japanese Navy during the war, but he never was part of the kamikaze corps. During my visit
I learned that Iwamoto has written three other books, including a book of poetry. He wrot
the following poem (my translation to English) inscribed on the plaque at the Special Attack
Corps Monument, located on a hill that looks down upon the former Kokubu No. 2 Air Base.
Repose of Souls
Riders of the white clouds
Come back to us
Cherry blossom breeze
Scent of chrysanthemums
Giving your blessing
Your hometown now filled
Another interesting talk was with Yuko Shirako, a woman whose mother's fiance
sortied from Miyakonojo Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture and died in a kamikaze attack off
Okinawa. Her mother has never said anything to her father about this part of her life, but in
her later years she has shared with her daughter many of the details of her engagement and
her fiance's death. However, even today she has never shown anyone the last letter her fiance
wrote to her prior to his departure toward Okinawa. Shirako showed me the sweater of her
mother's former fiance, and she said that she sometimes wears it. She has done much
research to try to piece together the full story of her mother's former fiance, and this web
site has one page that tells her story based on the results of that research.
In Kagoshima City, I spent a couple of days with Shoji Jikuya, a former Zero pilot who
flew a kamikaze mission to Okinawa. He managed to return to mainland Japan when his plane was
damaged after a skirmish with American planes. He commented that many men joined the kamikaze
corps before the end of the war, but only a few had real battle experience with the enemy and
managed to return.
The topic most discussed with former Imperial Japanese Navy airmen was modern-day
terrorism. A Los Angeles Times reporter planned to talk with some of the same people I did
about the relationship of kamikaze attacks to modern-day suicide bombings, so several
former kamikaze pilots eagerly wanted to tell me their views on this issue. They strongly and
unanimously disagreed with the insinuation that kamikaze attacks during World War II were
the same as today's terrorist suicide bombings. When some Japanese and foreign media in
2001 linked kamikazes with the terrorists who steered planes into the World Trade Towers
and Pentagon, these former Navy pilots became especially angry. They argued, reasonably in
my opinion, that the two were completely different. The terrorists attacked innocent civilians
using highjacked civilian aircraft. In contrast, the Japanese kamikaze attacks took place
against military targets during war.
The former kamikaze pilots who I met during my trip seemed little different than other
Japanese people. They seemed very happy to live now in a peaceful Japan, but they also all
had pride in their military service. Other than one man who wanted to emphasize to me that
the kamikaze corps had true samurai spirit, nobody displayed militaristic and nationalistic
opinions. In fact, I met several men who played leadership roles in friendship associations
with other countries such as Taiwan, Philippines, and Australia. Since the militaristic
wartime government prohibited the study and use of English, many of the men I met missed
the opportunity to study English in high school. During my visit no one could speak English,
and also nobody had ever visited the mainland U.S. Although many men had served in the
kamikaze corps, the men generally showed a much closer bond over many decades with their
classmates in the Yokaren (Naval Flight Training Program) rather than fellow pilots in the
5. Parallels to Friendship Dolls
I developed my first web site as a project for the GLSP course on "Reading and Writing
Hypertext" in 2000. This site covers the history of Friendship Dolls exchanged between
Japan and the U.S. in 1927 and recent years (http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls). The
topics of my two web sites, Kamikaze Images and Friendship Dolls, may seem far apart.
Actually, the process used to create these two web sites turned out to have many parallels,
and the two topics have many similarities from a research perspective. This section examines
connections between the two web sites.
A. Japan-U.S. Relations
The historical events of both topics involved many people in the United States and Japan,
and each topic continues to generate interest in both countries. In 1927, over 5 million
Americans and Japanese participated in a project to exchange dolls as a gesture of friendship
and peace. From October 1944 to August 1945, about 6,000 special attack corps members died
in suicide attacks (Shirai 2002, 22). The Japanese military leaders and press widely publicized
the patriotism of these young men who sacrificed their lives. Numerous crewmen on American
ships witnessed kamikaze planes as they tried to make suicide crash dives.
The subject of kamikaze pilots continues to generate interest, primarily in Japan but
also to a lesser extent in the U.S. Two recent extremely popular Japanese movies, Hotaru
(Firefly) in 2001 and Gekkou no Natsu (Summer of the Moonlight Sonata) in 1993, have
kamikaze pilots as their main characters. The Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in
Kagoshima Prefecture has over 500 million visitors each year. In the U.S., the topic of
Japanese kamikaze has recently generated interest as people hear about suicide bombings in
Iraq, Israel, and other countries. Many Americans thought back to World War II kamikaze
attacks when planes crashed into the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001.
B. Research Methods
The methods used to perform research and gather information for the two web sites had
several similarities. Since sources related to these two subjects are spread throughout Japan,
the development of both web sites involved trips through Japan to gather information and to
meet people knowledgeable on the subjects. For the Friendship Dolls site, I went to about 25
elementary schools and kindergartens to obtain information. I also visited several museums
with Friendship Doll exhibits and met with members of organizations in individual
prefectures that support Friendship Doll activities. For the Kamikaze Images site, I visited 11
Japanese museums to view exhibits, obtain books, and talk with museum directors and
workers. I also met with several former members of the kamikaze corps.
American museums also supplied valuable resources for the two web sites. Several
curators at museums with Japanese Friendship Dolls supplied me with photos, articles, and
other information. As part of the research for this project on Kamikaze Images, I first
stepped on board an aircraft carrier when I visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in
New York City. This ship's immense size and sturdy construction let me understand firsthand
how the Intrepid survived five hits by kamikaze planes.
Many people in Japan, including journalists, museum workers, veterans, teachers,
and authors, have given me a remarkable amount of resource material for my web sites on
Kamikaze Images and Friendship Dolls. My research also involved searching the Internet
and establishing contacts with creators of Japanese web sites and web pages on the two
subjects. This collaboration with Japanese authorities on kamikaze and Friendship Dolls
has provided me many insights that could not be obtained just by reading.
Both web sites rely heavily on information published in Japanese, including books
and web pages. I estimate about 20 to 50 times more information exists in Japanese than in
English related to both kamikaze pilots and Friendship Dolls. Although several books have
been published in English on kamikaze, many stories and details on this subject remain
unavailable to English readers. In addition to this web site's main objective to explore the
different Japanese and American perceptions of kamikaze pilots, I have also tried to translate
stories and information not published previously in English.
6. Closing Remarks
Many people provided materials, suggestions, and other invaluable assistance for
the creation of the web site on Kamikaze Images. Michael Roy, Director of Academic
Computing Services at Wesleyan University, and Ellen Schattschneider, Assistant Professor
of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies at Brandeis University, provided many
useful suggestions during my research and my design of the web site. Senri Nagasue, former
kamikaze pilot and author of several books on the kamikaze corps, provided much assistance
in arranging interviews during my stay in Japan. He has been an inspiration to keep up with
changing information technology, since in his seventies he learned HTML and created a large
web site. The "Acknowledgments" page on my web site recognizes by name the numerous
other people who provided assistance or gave permission for use of materials.
Although this paper covers the research and creation of the Kamikaze Images web site
for the final project required for completion of my MALS degree, I feel in some ways that it
is the beginning. I still have dozens of ideas for new web pages based on resources obtained
during my research and interviews conducted during my Japan visit. I hope to continue to
add to the web site long after my degree completion.
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