Remembering and Recording Childhood, Education, and Youth in Imperial Japan: An Introduction to the Project

The research project ‘Remembering and Recording Childhood, Education, and Youth in Imperial Japan, 1925-1945’ ran from August 2012 to December 2015. The project had several aims. It sought to record the memories of about 100 interviewees who were old enough to have experienced childhood, education, and in some cases youth in Japan before 1945. It also sought to collect materials (such as writings and pictures) created by children and young people between 1925 and 1945 and digitize them. The project aimed to create a digital archive at the University of Manchester for these oral history interview recordings and digitized materials, to preserve them and to make them accessible to scholars and students. More details about the archive can be found elsewhere on this website. The creation of this website was another aim of the project. It is intended to provide an introduction to the topics researched by the project, for the benefit of students at schools and universities, as well as for teachers and scholars. It also provides extracts from the summaries and transcripts of the oral history materials housed in the project’s digital archive, and a limited selection of materials from the archive. We hope it will be useful, primarily for teaching, but also as a portal for scholars less familiar with the field, and we hope it may ultimately encourage further research.

The project sought to conduct oral history interviews with people from different parts of Japan, and with different life and educational experiences. We were able to do this. Those interviewed had grown up in areas as diverse as Okinawa, Fukuoka, Tottori, Osaka, Nara, Shiga, Ishikawa, Toyama, Nagano, Gunma, Saitama, Tokyo, Ibaraki, Yamagata, and Aomori. Some grew up in towns or cities, others in the countryside. They came from households of diverse occupations, including farming, commerce, industry, the civil service, and the military. Some interviewees attended selective secondary schools and even higher education, whereas others ended their school education at ordinary or higher elementary school. Even so, we encountered some limitations. In particular, we were not able to interview as many people from the most economically constrained households (whether urban or rural) as we would have liked, despite actively seeking out a diversity of interviewees and in particular, interviewees who had not had the opportunity to go to a selective secondary school. We hope that we or other researchers will be able to address this limitation in future.

The project members have produced a number of publications as a result of the project, and further publications are in process. Currently available publications are listed below. As part of the project, two events bringing together scholars and graduate students working in the field were organised, one in Japan and one in the U.K. In January 2014, a two-day bilingual symposium was organised at Kyoto University, in cooperation with Professor Kyoko Inagaki and the Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University. In November 2015, a one-day workshop was organised at the University of Manchester. Besides their presentations at these events, project members have presented their research at many seminars and conferences, including conferences of the Association for Asian Studies, the British Association of Japanese Studies, and the European Association of Japanese Studies.

The project members were: Dr Peter Cave (Principal Investigator); Dr Aaron William Moore (Co-Investigator); Dr Manabu Ishioka (Research Associate); Dr L. Halliday Piel (Research Associate).

Oral history interviews were conducted by Dr Cave, Dr Ishioka, and Dr Piel, as well as by the following research assistants: Mrs Hisae Hayashi, Professor Hiroko Ichimune, Ms Aya Kiriake, Dr Tsuyoshi Kitamura, Mr Kuniomi Miyahashi, Dr Yukiko Monma, Professor Michiyo Nakano, Dr Stephen Robertson, and Mr Kōichi Utagawa.

In the course of this project, we have been given kind help by too many people to name. However, we would particularly like to thank the following: Mr Yasuo Aoki, Ms Jennifer Hikari Dixon, Dr Luli van der Does-Ishikawa, Dr Anna Fraser, Dr Takako Hama, Dr Tamako Hata, Mr Osamu Hizume, Professor Kyōko Inagaki, Mr Akitsugu Inoda, Ms Atsuko Koido, Mrs Tokuko Maeda, Mrs Sueko Mikawa, Mr Yuma Murata, Dr Mamiko Noda, Professor Toshihiko Saitō, Mr Gin’ichirō Teramura, Mr Toki Tsuno, Mr Hiroaki Ueda, Dr Miyabi Yamamoto, Mr Fumishige Yoshimura, and Dr Ayako Yoshino.

This research project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) research grant AH/J004618/1, and we gratefully acknowledge the essential support of the AHRC.

This website also draws on the results of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Invitation Research Fellowship held by Peter Cave between July 2011 and January 2012 at the Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University. As part of that fellowship, 51 people were interviewed about their recollections of childhood and education in Japan between 1925 and 1940. Peter Cave would like to thank all those who participated in and helped with that research, especially the JSPS for providing the Fellowship, and Professor Kyoko Inagaki and the Graduate School of Education at Kyoto University for kindly hosting him.


石岡学. 2014.「1920年代日本の中等学校入試改革論議における『抽籤』論にみる選抜の公正性」『教育社会学研究』第94集、173-193.

Cave, Peter. 2016. Guest Editor, Special Issue, ‘Children, Education, and Media in Japan and Its Empire.’ Japan Forum 28: 1.

Cave, Peter. 2016. ‘Introduction: Children, Education, and Media in Japan and Its Empire.’ Japan Forum 28: 1, pp. 1-8.

Cave, Peter. 2016. ‘Story, Song, and Ceremony: Shaping Dispositions in Japanese Elementary Schools during Taisho and Early Showa.’ Japan Forum 28: 1, pp. 9-31.

Han, Hyunjung. 2016. ‘Adventure Stories and Geographical Imagination in Japanese and Korean Children’s Magazines, 1925-1945’. Translated from the original Japanese by Peter Cave. Japan Forum 28: 1, pp. 99-120.