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Beachheads: War, Peace, and Tourism in Postwar Okinawa

Overview

This original and fresh book explores Okinawa’s makeover as a tourist mecca in the long historical shadow and among the physical ruins of the Pacific War’s most devastating land battle. Gerald Figal considers how a place burdened by a history of semicolonialism, memories of war and occupation, economic hardship, and contentious current political affairs has reshaped itself into a resort destination. Drawing on an innovative mix of detailed archival research and extensive fieldwork, Gerald Figal considers the ways...
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Beachheads: War, Peace, and Tourism in Postwar Okinawa

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Overview

This original and fresh book explores Okinawa’s makeover as a tourist mecca in the long historical shadow and among the physical ruins of the Pacific War’s most devastating land battle. Gerald Figal considers how a place burdened by a history of semicolonialism, memories of war and occupation, economic hardship, and contentious current political affairs has reshaped itself into a resort destination. Drawing on an innovative mix of detailed archival research and extensive fieldwork, Gerald Figal considers the ways Okinawa has accommodated war experience and its legacies within the manufacture and promotion of both a “tropical paradise” image and a heritage tourism site identified with the premodern Ryukyu Kingdom. Tracing the postwar formation of “Tourist Okinawa,” Figal addresses interrelated issues of economic sustainability, local political autonomy, interregional and international relations, environmental preservation, historical and cultural self-representation, and especially Okinawa's role as a global peace site laboring under the legacies of war. From the end of World War Two to the present, the author follows Okinawa’s evolution through three main themes: war memorialization, tourism-influenced environmental and historical restoration, and invasion and occupation represented by U.S. military bases and beach resorts. Creatively, accessibly, and eloquently written, this compelling work highlights a set of islands that represent key issues facing contemporary Japan.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael Molasky
Tourism is rarely, if ever, 'innocent,' as Gerald Figal reveals in this provocative and probing study of tourism in Okinawa. Rather, it is invariably intertwined with the history of both the tourist’s homeland and destination. Nowhere is this more evident than in Okinawa, where even the most remote, pristine beaches serve as repositories of the past—a past in which the dark legacies of colonialism, war, and military occupation lurk beneath the brilliant sunlight.
Sabine Frühstück
Born in the ruins of war, Okinawa had been the site of the Asia-Pacific War's bloodiest battle. To this day, it remains the site of intense contestation regarding the U.S. military presence. Yet, Okinawa has also become a tourist destination whose attractions range from recently introduced forms of tropical leisure to rich cultural displays and a live experience of an imagined past. Gerald Figal expertly examines the enormous tension between these two identities of 'Okinawa.' He brilliantly shows not only the constructedness of Okinawa as tropical paradise but also the tourist appeal of the U.S. military in Okinawa, from the spectacle of the bases and their hardware to the personnel themselves. A benchmark book for readers interested in civil-military relations, war and peace, and modern Japan and Okinawa.
CHOICE
With its triangulated position at the crossroads of Japan, the US, and its own past kingdom, contemporary Okinawa provides observers with richly complex material. Figal (Vanderbilt Univ.) handles this material well. Based on archival research and fieldwork begun in 2001, his book provides fascinating insights into the branding of Okinawa for the Japanese domestic tourist marketplace, from tropical landscaping to the restoration of Shuri Castle (the former center of the Ryukyuan Kingdom) to the building of swank resorts. In working to create a distinctive brand, the tourist industry sought elements that would make Okinawa distinctive within the Japanese domestic tourist market. Those elements included a tropical image ('Japan's Hawai'i') and continuing connection to the US through the ongoing US military presence. Thus, tropical beaches and US bases are not such uncommon bedfellows in Okinawa. They constitute what Figal calls 'beachheads'—luxury resorts capable of launching their own offense against Okinawan physical and cultural space. Embedding the making of 'tourist Okinawa' within the experiences of wartime and US occupation, Figal's compelling analysis greatly enriches the growing field of Okinawan studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
Annals of Leisure Research
Beachheads by Gerald Figal is a well-written and well-researched book on the development of tourism in Okinawa from a historical perspective. He draws from many historical documents, personal interviews, and first-hand experiences to create a very interesting and thorough analysis of how tourism evolved in Okinawa, Japan after World War II. ... Beachheads is a fascinating read for those specifically interested in the development of tourism in Okinawa, but others may find this book very valuable in that it addresses a number of subjects and topics that are often discussed in tourism such as how to deal with the aspects of war from a tourism perspective, authenticity of tourism destinations, creating tourist destinations that meet the expectations of visitors, dealing with military bases in tourist locations and the tourism that comes along with them and the evolution of beach resort tourism. Gerald Figal provides a unique historical analysis of Okinawa and its tourism development after World War II. The book offers thoughtful insight into furthering our discussion and understanding of tourism development.
Journal Of Japanese Studies
Beachheads is a valuable addition to the field of Japan studies. Figal has undertaken both painstaking archival work and gotten his hands dirty exploring caves and graves to offer a thought-provoking analysis of the legacy of war and the rhetoric of peace. This book contributes much to our knowledge of postwar Okinawa, U.S. military bases, heritage and nonheritage tourism, and the environment.
Journal of Japanese Studies
Beachheads is a valuable addition to the field of Japan studies. Figal has undertaken both painstaking archival work and gotten his hands dirty exploring caves and graves to offer a thought-provoking analysis of the legacy of war and the rhetoric of peace. This book contributes much to our knowledge of postwar Okinawa, U.S. military bases, heritage and nonheritage tourism, and the environment.
Choice
With its triangulated position at the crossroads of Japan, the US, and its own past kingdom, contemporary Okinawa provides observers with richly complex material. Figal (Vanderbilt Univ.) handles this material well. Based on archival research and fieldwork begun in 2001, his book provides fascinating insights into the branding of Okinawa for the Japanese domestic tourist marketplace, from tropical landscaping to the restoration of Shuri Castle (the former center of the Ryukyuan Kingdom) to the building of swank resorts. In working to create a distinctive brand, the tourist industry sought elements that would make Okinawa distinctive within the Japanese domestic tourist market. Those elements included a tropical image ("Japan's Hawai'i") and continuing connection to the US through the ongoing US military presence. Thus, tropical beaches and US bases are not such uncommon bedfellows in Okinawa. They constitute what Figal calls "beachheads"—luxury resorts capable of launching their own offense against Okinawan physical and cultural space. Embedding the making of "tourist Okinawa" within the experiences of wartime and US occupation, Figal's compelling analysis greatly enriches the growing field of Okinawan studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442215818
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/12/2012
  • Series: Asia/Pacific/Perspectives Series
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald Figal is associate professor of history and Japanese cultural studies at Vanderbilt University.
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Table of Contents

Prologue
Part I: Graves and Caves
Chapter 1: Tours among the Ruins
Chapter 2: The Touristification of Sacred Ground
Part II: Creations and Recreations
Chapter 3: “Tropical Image Up”: Landscape under (Tourist) Occupation
Chapter 4: Ryukyu Restoration: Shuri Castle and Furusato Okinawa
Part III: Bases and Beaches
Chapter 5: Military Bases as Tourist Attraction
Chapter 6: Beach Resort Invasion
Epilogue
Bibliography
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