Skip to main content Accessibility help
Japan's Carnival War

Book description

Japan in the Asia-Pacific War years is usually remembered for economic deprivation, political repression, and cultural barrenness. Benjamin Uchiyama argues that although the war created the opportunity for the state to expand its control over society and mass culture, it also fractured Japanese people's sense of identity, spilling out through a cultural framework which is best understood as 'carnival war'. In this cultural history, we are introduced to five symbolic figures: the thrill-seeking reporter, the defiant munitions worker, the tragic soldier, the elusive movie star, and the glamorous youth aviator. Together they represent both the suppression and proliferation of cultural life in wartime Japan and demonstrate that 'carnival war' coexisted with total war to promote consumerist desire versus sacrifice, fantasy versus nightmare, and beauty versus horror. Ultimately, Uchiyama argues, this duality helped mobilize home front support for the war effort.


‘In Japan's Carnival War, Benjamin Uchiyama brilliantly proposes a new, dynamic paradigm of Japan's total war in Asia. His ‘carnival kings' - the circus freak, the reporter, the munition worker, the soldier, the movie star, and the tragic kamikaze pilot - embody and negotiate a strange mix of incitement and excitement, the hybridization of masculinity and femininity, and the fluidity of suppression. A must-read.'

Sabine Frühstück - University of California, Santa Barbara

‘This is a powerfully original look at the home front. Many Japanese supported the war effort, Uchiyama argues, not because of emperor worship, but because - like the other belligerents - they ‘consumed' the war, enjoying sensational battlefield reportage, heroic narratives of the aviator, and the perks of well-paid munitions workers.'

Sheldon Garon - Princeton University

‘A remarkably fresh, indeed a startling, cultural history of total war. Uchiyama shows how Japanese people made sense of their own experience by engaging media icons such as the ‘munitions worker' or the ‘movie star' with irreverent mockery. Must reading for anyone interested in the global experience of World War II.'

Andrew Gordon - Harvard University

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed