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The Japanese had to do crafts after WWII? 2020/11/25 22:36
I heard from a famous Colombian historian, Diana Uribe, that the government ordered the Japanese to practice crafts with their families in order to keep their minds occupied, and lift their spirits, after their defeat. She used the expression "useless crafts" to explain the hidden value of this practices. (1) Did this really happen? (2) Can you please give me more details about it? (3) Can you also please help me find more information about this on the web? The following question is very important, (4) is the word "useless" or a synonym often used to refer to this historical episode? Finally, (5) was origami one of those crafts practiced due to the governments order?

Thank you in advance!
by Gerardo (guest)  

Re: The japanese had to do crafts after WWII? 2020/11/26 18:08
(1) Not that I recall of. The Japanese in general were kept quite occupied after the war. But even today, I believe it is common for doctors to make patients of mental illness do useless crafts to keep their minds occupied.

(5) Origami had been and still is a very common craft that any Japanese person would do, whether you're a toddler or an elderly. I am convinced that it is not only fun but also good for your mental and physical health. It can be useless or useful depending on what you are making.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: The japanese had to do crafts after WWII? 2020/11/28 07:53
Thank you for your answer Uco. So you where in Japan the years after WWII?

Diana Uribe talks about something different from what you're referring. The practice of this crafts would be part of a political and cultural project for the resurgence of Japan. I'll translate, from Spanish to English, excerpts from two webpages to give you a more detailed idea.

"The Japanese began to take advantage of the most adverse situation, the humiliation, the depression, the low self-esteem generated by the North American occupation.

On the one hand, the "mayoral incentives" for so-called "useless trades" began. In the prefectures of Kyoto and Nara, the two oldest and most traditional cities, the mayors promoted the production of crafts (origami and painted pottery)." From The Day After: The Reconstruction of Japan by Solusan.

"After the two nuclear bombs, first: the god emperor Hirohito ordered his people to live (despite the shame and disgrace they felt for the defeat). Second: The "Mayor's Office" offered "Incentives" from which the "useless trades" would derive, which consisted in making origami and crafts, but for what purpose? Maintaining the stimulation of the creative muscle and, according to the Buddhist doctrine, unemployment is a source of resentment and bitterness, feelings that they know are dangerous for a society undergoing reconstruction.

And although it is true that the handicrafts of those Japanese families were bought (for a small price), the purpose was actually to create a social network that would keep the spirit afloat, to generate a concept of unity and solidarity, of community, to strengthen the ties within the families so that they, and the State consequently, could be well." From On the Reconstruction of Japan and the Useless Trades: Parallels with COVID-19 by Gabriel Dary

Uco, and anyone else who can help me, did this really happen in Japan some time after WWII?
by Gerardo (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: The Japanese had to do crafts after WWII? 2020/11/29 01:01
Hi again,

I was born in Tokyo in 1961, so I've heard lots of first-hand post-war stories from my family, teachers and the media, but then I don't know much about Kyoto and Nara specifically.

But from your translation, it seems to me that the mayor's office (or it would be natural to assume that they were governors' offices) simply "encouraged" citizens to engage in things like origami, which is not surprising at all. You can't "order" citizens to do crafts, but you can tell them that it's better for their mental health to do certain things. You can also distribute pretty paper to citizens as well, so that they don't have to use old newspapers to do origami. In fact, however, multiple websites tell us that origami had been taught at schools for decades until the war ended.

Perhaps you'd like to inquire a library or history museum to see if they could lead you to a better source. I also came across a website of an origami museum which has a bilingual inquiry form:
https://www.origamikaikan.co.jp/contact/
by Uco rate this post as useful

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