Urashimaso: literature, traumatic memory and restorative memory

Mizuta Noriko, Hannah Osborne (Translator)

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In the following essay, Mizuta Noriko asks how traumatic events, which result in the violent repression and obliteration of personal memories, might rather be understood as the root of all artistic representation. As Freud writes in "Archaic Remnants and Infantilism in the Dream" (1920): "[latent thought] extends back to conditions of our intellectual development which we have long progressed beyond, to the language of pictures, the symbol-representations, perhaps to those conditions which were in force before the development of our language of thought." Mizuta wonders how Freud's insights on trauma might illuminate our understanding of Ōba Minako's Urashimasō (1977), and its inscription of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Ōba (1930-2007) is perhaps best known for being instrumental in reshaping female subjectivity during a resurgence of women's writing in Japan from the late 1960s onwards. However, as Mizuta's essay demonstrates, those of Ōba's writings that discuss the legacy of the Second World War, and in particular, the bombing of Hiroshima, should be reserved a special place in Japan's literary canon for their ability to confront trauma and effect healing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-243
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Japanese Culture and Society
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2021


  • Oba Minako
  • Urashimaso
  • Mizuta Noriko
  • translation
  • Japan
  • Hiroshima
  • atomic bomb fiction
  • memory
  • trauma

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