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Sample text

Another question which remains, however, is whether provincial women, or at least women’s groups, continued in later years to pursue greater links with the military as a vehicle to enhance their social status. Perhaps the most important group for the long-term future of civil-military relations was the schoolchildren. For them, the war quickly came to dominate the daily routine of lessons, featuring in classes on history, geography and ethics. In these lessons, as one prefectural education board declared, the aim was to emphasise the virtue of the emperor, demonstrate to the pupils that this was a ‘just war’ (gisen), familiarize them with the history and geography of China and Korea, explain the system and strength of the Japanese armed forces, and also show that, in addition to modern weapons, a ‘faithful and courageous warrior spirit is superior to an iron warship’.

Perhaps the sects absented themselves where possible because they saw less advantage in being associated with the military, at least in this form. Instead, they attempted to identify themselves more with life, conducting prayers for victory, sometimes, as in the town of Takayama, in association with shrines, and sometimes using magic lantern shows to attract a crowd (in the immediate postwar years many sects were also highly active in setting up life insurance companies for their believers). In the years following the war, some localities erected stone memorials to the war dead but, once again, the relatively light toll of war meant that, while these were longlasting, they were thinly spread.

In towns and villages, these were the first places to which people turned to celebrate victory. This meant that the shrines were identified with success and happiness, a sentiment reinforced by the simplicity of Shinto- in which prayers or formalities were brief, to the point, and generally followed by cups of saké (following Japan’s victory at Weihaiwei in February 1895, it was said that all the villagers of Musubuwachu-, Anpachi 34 The profits of war county, stopped work for three days to celebrate and drink saké at the local shrine).

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Japan - Hiroshima Prefecture - Guidebook for Tourists


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