Local Sites of Memory

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The scars of war are visible in many places around Japan. Very often they are preserved by the actions of dedicated local activists trying to pass on history to future generals.

Putting “senso iseki” (戦争遺跡)into a search engine will bring up many pages on prefectural and municipal websites listing the war sites and remains in a particular administrative region. For example, here is the page for Mitaka city in Tokyo. It lists the sites (such as the remains of wartime aircraft hangers) around modern-day Chofu Airfield, which I can see from my office window.

Similar pages can be seen at the prefectural level, such as this page in the Kanagawa prefecture website. Particularly important sites of war history will even have their own dedicated websites, and some are for attracting tourists as in Hiroshima and Okinawa.

One of the largest complexes of sites is the Matsushiro Imperial Underground Headquarters in Nagano prefecture. The work that goes into the preservation of such sites, and also their contested nature, is discussed by Jung-Sun Han in “The Heritage of Resentment and Shame in Postwar Japan”.

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