Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2,600th Anniversary by Kenneth J. RuoffImperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2,600th Anniversary by Kenneth J. Ruoff

Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2,600th Anniversary

byKenneth J. Ruoff

Paperback | October 21, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 225 plum® points

In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In 1940, Japan was into its third year of war with China, and relations with the United States were deteriorating, but it was a heady time for the Japanese nonetheless. That year, the Japanese commemorated the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of the Empire of Japan. According to the imperial myth-history, Emperor Jimmu, descended from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, established the "unbroken imperial line" in 660 BCE.

In carefully choreographed ceremonies throughout the empire, through new public monuments, with visual culture, and through heritage tourism, the Japanese celebrated the extension of imperial rule under the 124th emperor, Hirohito. These celebrations, the climactic moment for the ideology that was central to modern Japan's identity until the imperial cult's legitimacy was bruised by defeat in 1945, are little known outside Japan.

Imperial Japan at Its Zenith, the first book in English about the 2,600th anniversary, examines the themes of the celebration and what they tell us about Japan at mid-century. Kenneth J. Ruoff emphasizes that wartime Japan did not reject modernity in favor of nativist traditionalism. Instead, like Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, it embraced reactionary modernism. Ruoff also highlights the role played by the Japanese people in endorsing and promoting imperial ideology and expansion, documenting the significant grassroots support for the cult of the emperor and for militarism.

Ruoff uses the anniversary celebrations to examine Japan's invention of a national history; the complex relationship between the homeland and the colonies; the significance of Imperial Japan's challenge to Euro-American claims of racial and cultural superiority; the role of heritage tourism in inspiring national pride; Japan's wartime fascist modernity; and, with a chapter about overseas Japanese, the boundaries of the Japanese nation. Packed with intriguing anecdotes, incisive analysis, and revelatory illustrations, Imperial Japan at Its Zenith is a major contribution to our understanding of wartime Japan.

Kenneth J. Ruoff is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University. He is the author of The People's Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945–1995, the Japanese translation of which was awarded the Osaragi Jiro Prize in 2004 for the best book in the social sciences.
Title:Imperial Japan at Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire's 2,600th AnniversaryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:9.25 × 6.13 × 0.27 inPublished:October 21, 2014Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801479789

ISBN - 13:9780801479786

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

1. The National History Boom
2. Mass Participation and Mass Consumption
3. Imperial Heritage Tourism
4. Touring Korea
5. Touring Manchuria's Sacred Sites
6. Overseas Japanese and the Fatherland

Editorial Reviews

"In this deeply researched book Kenneth J. Ruoff offers an intriguing new perspective on wartime Japan. Hissweeping survey of the cultural landscape in 1940demonstrates the many ways, from song contests to colonial tourism, that cultural consumption sustained popular morale and support for the war effort on the Asian continent."—Peter Duus, Stanford University