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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.

27 Giugno 2019
17 Giugno 2019
13 Febbraio 2019

Keywords: Japan and OkinawaImaginative geographiesColonial gazeOtheringUS-occupied OkinawaHino Ashihei

Copyright: © 2019 Stefano Romagnoli. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.