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Kanetaka Kaoru and the South Pacific Islands: Travel documentary and travel-writing in the early 1960s

Nishino, Ryota (2013) Kanetaka Kaoru and the South Pacific Islands: Travel documentary and travel-writing in the early 1960s. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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The presentation discusses the analyses of travel writing and television documentary programme by the travel journalist Kanetaka Kaoru. Kanetaka Kaoru sekai no tabi, enjoyed popular and critical acclaim during its 31 years of broadcasting from 1959 to 1990. On her sixth filming trip in 1961, she visited Australia and the South Pacific islands for the first time. Her itinerary included Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. The trip resulted in a series of programmes and, albeit lesser known travel writing, Sekai no tabi: Oceania (1962). Her travel programme and the book contributed to the burst of postwar-era travel-writing publishing such as best-selling Nan de mo mote yarô (1960) by Oda Makoto and Dokutoru mambô kôkaiki by Kita Morio (1960). In the English-speaking academy travel writing has grown into an interdisciplinary scholarly field. The scholars apply the discourses of Orientalism, post-colonialism and counter-hegemony to analyse to better understand the subtle and not-so-subtle descriptions of the destinations and the people and about themselves. Numerous scholars have demonstrated the image of the Pacific Islands as idyllic paradise is a most potent and enduring trope European travel-writing and novel. The analyses of Japanese literary representation of ‘the South Sea’ islands by Faye Yuan Kleeman and Naoto Sudô (Taiwan and Micornesia respectively) reach similar conclusions. Yet, as the theorist Kang Sang-Jung finds, ‘Japanese orientalism’ has mutually enhancing role of defending colonialism by the West, and imposes Japanese hegemonic power over Asia Pacific. Kanetaka’s approach is largely ethnographic. She reports the culture and societies of the South Pacific Islands, but does not present the Pacific Islands as one monolithic paradiascal zone. Some, but not all, Pacific Islanders developed capacity to progress and to engage in trade and business. In particular she admires ethnic Fijian chiefs and urbane ethnic Fijians. She maintains that they had struck a fine balance between their own culture and western civilisation. She seems to vindicate her self-image as a globe-trotting ambassador of postwar Japan clad in kimono. Rather she paints a nuanced picture informed of her values in civility and respectability. By contrast Kanetaka is appalled and annoyed by debauched and arrogant westerners she encountered in Suva. In Papua New Guinea she is impressed with a Papuan coffee grower. However, she doubts whether some rural Papuans would evolve from their own civilisation, and achieve the same attainment as the ethnic Fijians. Kanetaka presents Vanuatu as a contact zone between the newly-established Japanese fishery station and the undeveloped tropical forest. Kanetaka finds the Japanese fishermen had ‘gone native’ to the local conditions and the demands of work. She revises her preconceptions of the ‘rough and ready’ stereotypes of fishermen. Kanetaka depicts a sanguine impression of the islands and their future. While she reports former soldiers who fought the Japanese in the Pacific War, she does not dwell on their wartime memories. Rather she seems to suggest the Japanese could compensate the wartime disrepute through cultivating new collective and individual character.

Item Type: Other
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kanetaka Kaoru, travel documentary, travel-writing, Pacific Islands
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Ryota Nishino
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2013 21:20
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2016 03:22

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