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Research Article

From Secluded Paradise to Hell on Earth

Hino Ashihei’s Imaginative Geography of Okinawa

Stefano Romagnoli    Sapienza Università di Roma, Italia    



This paper focuses on the writings of Hino Ashihei (1907-1960) about Okinawa, a corpus of twelve works composed over a period of sixteen years that were inspired by three visits to the Ryūkyū Islands. Hino is best known as a writer of war novels, but these twelve works have received almost no attention, partly because they are not considered Okinawan literature since Hino was a native of Kyūshū. The aim of this article is to show that Okinawa is not merely a setting for these neglected writings but rather a complex representation that incorporates the author’s gaze, his stance toward the region, and a topography of power. Moreover, this representation evolved over time to produce an array of at times contrasting images of Okinawa, whether as a tropical paradise, the shield of the nation, or a symbol of its occupation. On the other hand, the narrator’s stance, which is characterised at first by the strength and assertiveness of a first-person narrator, underwent a progressive disengagement that was intended, by this article’s interpretation, to introduce greater objectivity into Hino’s prose.

Keywords: Hino Ashihei. Japan and Okinawa. US-occupied Okinawa. Colonial gaze. Imaginative geographies. Othering.

Language: en

Submitted: Feb. 13, 2019
Accepted: June 17, 2019
Published: June 27, 2019

permalink: http://doi.org/10.30687/AnnOr/2385-3042/2019/01/018

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License